Written in an era where bad leadership had brought the world to the brink of destruction, T.H. White did what many others before him did: he took a very famous legend and crafted it to fit the concerns of the 20th century. The Once and Future King is divided into four books. Each book deals with a distinctive period of King Arthur’s life and important lessons for readers: the characteristics of a good leader and the importance of education; what happens when the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons; the importance of imperfection and finding redemption in God; and finally, the hope that eventually good will overcome evil in the world as long as the flame of goodness is passed down to future generations.
Candle in the Wind Literary Conflict in The Once and Future King by TH White
MAN vs MAN
MAN vs SELF
MAN vs SOCIETY
Mordred hates Arthur because he thinks he tried to have him killed as an infant. He swears to get revenge by tearing down Arthur’s closest circle and exposing Lancelot and Guenever’s affair publicly. Under Arthur’s civil code of laws, their activities constitute treason, and he will have to execute them both.
With his wife a prisoner, his best friend in exile, his son trying to kill him, and his Round Table dispersed, Arthur realizes that he has been unable to stop these misfortunes. He feels his new system has failed and wonders if war will always be inevitable. He makes sure to pass on his ideas to Thomas Malory in the hopes that his mantra of “Might only for Right” will be passed on to future generations.
While Arthur realizes what Guenever and Lancelot have done to him is treason, he loves them both and does not want to carry out a punishment; however, as King, he is bound by the rules he’s created for his own society to do so. Guenever is sentenced to be burned at the stake, and Arthur secretly hopes Lancelot will ride in to save her at the last moment.