The Changing Arthur: A Comparison of Malory and White
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Semmes, Kristen C.
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T.H. White transforms the story of Arthur with his retelling of Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Dathur in his novel The Once and Future King. I argue that White’s perception as a man of the twentieth century influences his take on the age old story of Arthur causing his work to diverge from Malory’s, specifically in his representation of noble values. Through the characters of Arthur, Merlin, and the women in the work I will prove that due to the authors’ differing personal experiences, the values upheld by Arthur’s story change drastically. Malory, as a knight during the War of the Roses, emphasizes heritage, prowess in battle, and loyalty in his men while treating the women as secondary characters. White’s characters, however, present the importance of individuality, pacifism, education, and motherhood. As these authors deviate from those before them, the characters of Arthurian legend reflect the change in what society considers noble.