Certain protagonists are considered to have universal qualities and these qualities are called archetypes. Archetypes have similar characteristics throughout literature and make unpredictable characters easier to understand. One archetype is the hero - defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. However, there is more than one hero archetype.
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.
The Ill-Made Knight | Lancelot as an Epic Hero in the Once and Future King by TH White
BATTLES SUPERNATURAL FOES
Lancelot is the son of French King Ban of Benwick, a friend and ally of King Arthur.
On the way to England to join Arthur’s Round Table, Lancelot is challenged by a knight dressed in black armor. He challenges young Lancelot to a tilting joust, which Lancelot easily wins. His strength and dexterity are unmatched to any other knight Arthur has seen.
In order to get away from the temptation of Guenever, Lancelot agrees to go on many quests in which he encounters evil knights, a girl trapped in boiling water, and the Holy Grail.
Lancelot is so skilled in battle, that he is able to defeat men in armor with only a sword, and he manages to save Sir Bliant from attack by breaking free of his handcuffs from the cell where he was being kept.
Lancelot quickly becomes known as “The Best Knight in the World,” and it is this title that allows him to perform miracles.
Lancelot is constantly at war with himself. and believes that he is ill-made on the inside as well as on the outside and eventually goes by the name “Le Chevalier Mal Fet,” or “The Ill-Made Knight”. He never gloats, and feels constant guilt about his affair with Guenever behind Arthur’s back.
Lancelot defeats and thwarts many foes, many of whom have superhuman strength, but he also manages to thwart and escape from the fairie sorceress, Morgan le Fay, who tries to trap him and make him her lover.