In The Once And Future King T.H. White takes great care to explain that King Arthur had very humble beginnings and that he did not simply pick up where his father left off. In fact in the story Arthur is not born of royal blood in the conventional sense, he inherits the throne because of the virtues and wisdom taught to him by Merlyn. It is because of these virtues that he is able to pull excalibur from the stone and inherit the throne. In a way King Arthur is comparable to and likely, at least in part, inspired many modern day noble heroes portrayed in movies. One such example is Thor who rules Asgard because he is able to lift Mjolnir, the legendary hammer of norse mythology meaning that he is worthy of ruling his people. The reason for this is because the hammer represents the great weight of responsibility and wisodm required of a true leader quite similar to King Arthur. One quote from T.H. White in the book is as follows:
“Might does not make right! Right makes right!”
This quote demonstrates T.H. Whites overall philosophy of peace rather than war. T.H. White recognizes that at times conflict is unavoidable and that sometimes war is necessary, but that in order to be a wise leader one must be able to draw the distinction between necessary deescalation and pointless bloodshed which is often difficult to discern.
In the story King Arthur represents the ideal leader, constantly striving to maintain peace but accepting the unfortunate harsh reality of human nature in the forms of lust, jealousy, envy, anger, etc. Of course like many people he hopes for one day living in a world where laws are not necessary because everyone lives in harmony. In other words he envisions utopia. This claim is backed by the quote I listed earlier. Ultimately however, no matter how many people may agree on what is right somebody or something has to enforce those ideals which by definition is largely left to arbitrary and subjective methods. This returns to my point on human nature, while people may agree on a superficial level what is right there are countless nuances, exceptions, and complexities that no one person can perdict. Whose to say that his rule would be the best and that he should rule? This is what eventually led to the decline of Arthur’s kingdom despite his noble intentions.
This story like many others of kingdoms, knights, morality, government, and political persuasion seeks to explore human nature as seen from an authors point of view. Whether or not the author comes across as “correct” is up for debate by the reader or audience. After all it is quite challenging to truly blanket legislate morality or fully control how every single person will behave without resorting to the very strategies and tactics one claims to oppose.