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Notes on The Once and Future King Themes

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The Once and Future King Topic Tracking: Might Makes Right

Book 1, Chapter 5

Might Makes Right 1: The "King of the Pond" terrifies Arthur with his thoughts on life: power is the most important thing, claims the huge fish. This is exactly why Merlyn has brought Arthur to meet him: Merlyn wants to teach Arthur about this kind of thinking, and get him to understand that it is wrong. He wants Arthur to see that the point of ruling is to create order and peace, not just to make people do what you want. Merlyn shows Arthur what a nasty creature the fish is, to make him realize that that isn't what he wants to be.

Book 1, Chapter 13

Might Makes Right 2: The ants completely and blindly agree with a "might makes right" philosophy. They believe that as long as they can overpower their enemies, that means that they were meant to. Thus, they spend all their time fighting with other ants, believing it is their right to kill others, while getting angry if others kill them.

Book 1, Chapter 18

Might Makes Right 3: Lyo-Lyok teaches Arthur her own views about fighting and power struggles: she thinks they are immature. It just doesn't make sense to her to try to overpower your own people, when you can be so much more successful working together. She gives Arthur, who enjoys fighting because he thinks that is what knights do, a very different perspective.

Book 1, Chapter 21

Might Makes Right 4: Badger tries to help Arthur understand the other animals of the world, who are bullied by powerful humans. He implies that humans did not originally set out to be the masters of all animals, but that God gave them that blessing-which may not always be a blessing at all, since it makes other animals afraid of humans. Badger pointedly asks Arthur who he liked better, the ants or the geese (when he knows that Arthur liked the geese better, even though the ants are more similar to most humans) so that Arthur will see that some human qualities are not always good qualities.

Book 1, Chapter 23

Might Makes Right 5: When Arthur simply tries to use force-"might"-to remove the sword, he can't do it. When he draws on all the power and knowledge he has learned from his animal friends, however, he removes the sword easily. He is not able to remove the sword because he is the strongest, or the biggest, but because he has a better understanding of the secret powers of the world, which Merlyn has given him through his education.

Book 2, Chapter 2

Might Makes Right 6: Merlyn makes Arthur understand that, even though it might be nice for him, as the King, to engage in battle while never really having to risk anything, forcing the peasants to do the real work, it is not morally right. He decides that he wants to use his power to change that, so that no one will be able to use their wealth or power to harm others again.

Book 2, Chapter 6

Might Makes Right 7: Arthur finally realizes why he was made King: so that he could stop bullies from running England just because they have money or power. Finally, Merlyn is pleased with Arthur, because this is what he has wanted him to learn all along.

Book 3, Chapter 26

Might Makes Right 8: Arthur is convinced that, because he founded the Round Table by force, even though he was founding it to avoid people using force in the first place, the Table will fail and he will be punished. When Morgause's sons kill her and Lamorak, his prophecy seems to be coming true.

Book 3, Chapter 37

Might Makes Right 9: In order to avoid power equaling justice, Arthur is willing to see his wife burn to death. However, he is unsure whether that will really solve anything, and he finds it extremely difficult to allow it to happen.

Book 4, Chapter 14

Might Makes Right 10: Arthur finally realizes that his idea will work. He will return one day to establish justice on earth, and it will begin with Tom, the young page who Arthur convinces not to fight.

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