Arthur?S Journey To Self Discovery Essay, Research Paper
Arthur?s Journey to Self Discovery
The future is inevitable. It is only with experience that one can come to an understanding of any sort. It is only with time that experience can become achievable. Understanding one?s true self can only be made possible with a multitude of experiences, leading to realizations. The entire package of experiences for one individual person can take no less that a lifetime. This reality, in itself, is a tragedy. A tragedy that Arthur, King of Camelot, was destined to realize.
Born into a life of deception, even the truth about his maternal origin is kept from him. Innocent and na?ve, Arthur as a young man succeeds in doing what no other could do before. He pulls from a stone the sword named Excalibur. Long before his birth, his father declared that whoever could remove the sword was to be king.
Unsure and not at all confident in his abilities, Arthur?s strength and will as king is tested almost immediately. With the help of his sword, Excalibur, he wins a fight against Uriens? men and saves the castle of another king. Arthur earns his first taste of victory. Accompanying this victory, is the respect of the people within his kingdom.
While attempting to cross a bridge, Arthur meets a man who refuses to respect his authority and clear the way across the bridge. Arthur?s ?rage unbalances him?. He agrees to fight to the death over the crossing of a bridge that can easily be traveled around. Arthur?s opponent outmatches him. Arthur is forced to call upon the power of his sword, Excalibur. Arthur is victorious, but in the process, Excalibur is broken. ?[His] pride broke that which could not be broken.? Arthur is remorseful and refers to himself as ?nothing?. It is with this first display of condescension that Arthur realizes that especially because of his stature, his personal mistakes and poor decisions could affect many lives other than his own.
Adding an element of contrast to Arthur?s life is Arthur?s friend and mentor, Merlin. As a seer of the future and a man of great intelligence and wisdom, Merlin is everything Arthur is no. Arthur looks to Merlin for guidance. Through Merlin, the king?s many great possessions are put into perspective. In comparison to the king, Merlin appears to have very little. Insight and wisdom are all that Merlin has, but it is these two things that Arthur continually looks to Merlin for. Merlin lives a more fortunate life than Arthur does in that he possesses riches of a greater kind.
Arthur grows to be a good king. He leads men who fight valiantly for his kingdom of Camelot and bring peace and prosperity to the land. Although matured in his experiences, Arthur?s naivete blinds him of the inevitable evils that reside within the walls of his kingdom. He boasts to Merlin about the indefectibility of his kingdom. Merlin explains to Arthur the truths about good and evil. ?There never resides one without the other. You?ll will find evil where you never expect it.? Arthur hears and respects the words of Merlin, but these words do not become true to him until he first learns of the potential evil in his own castle.
Gawain, one of Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, accuses Arthur?s wife, Guinevere, of loving Arthur?s best friend Lancelot. Gawain demands a battle with Lancelot and Arthur agrees, concluding ?no knight who is false can win in combat with one who is true.? Guinevere, knowing she is guilty of loving Lancelot, begs Arthur not to allow the fight.
Arthur is forced to choose between his love for his wife and her wishes, and his responsibilities as king to be fair and just. Arthur decides that ?[his] laws must bind everyone high and low.? In making such a decision against his wife?s requests, Arthur realizes the extent to which he values his kingdom. He sees that he has put everything second to upholding the laws of his kingdom ? including the development of his marriage, and thus of himself.
Confused, Arthur turns to Merlin and asks him which is the greatest quality of a knight. Merlin imparts his final words of wisdom upon Arthur. He tells him ?the greatest quality is truth above all. When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.?
Confident in the validity of Merlin?s words, Arthur?s devastation is intensified when he sees for himself the secret love affair between his wife and his best friend.
This, for Arthur, is an instant realization of his naivete. His willingness to trust without reserve made it easy for others to fool and take advantage of him.
Merlin leaves Arthur, and Arthur soon finds himself an old man incapable of ?being king on his own.? His body and soul are weakened by the realization of his powerlessness. His land deteriorates and his people become at war with one another. He describes himself as ?wasting away. [He] cannot die and [he] cannot live.?
He is unable to pass away because he is not yet at peace with himself. Great difficulty is found in living because he must be witness to his failures every day as he watches his once prosperous kingdom fall to ruins.
A grail containing healing fluids is presented to Arthur. The fluid succeeds in replenishing Arthur?s strength. It is with this renewal of life and the second chance to make right of all his wrongs that Arthur realizes the faults in the way he chose to carry out his life. ?Percival, I didn?t know how empty was my soul until it was full. Lancelot carried my honor and Guinevere my guilt. My knights fought my causes.?
Arthur for the first time in his life is able to stand tall on his own to feet with out the accompaniment of any other. He at last finds himself confident in his beliefs and thus his identity. Transformed by the strength of his realizations, Arthur proclaims ?now I shall be king.?
Fighting his final battle, Arthur meets his long lost best friend and betrayer, Lancelot. Unable to save the wounded Lancelot?s life, Arthur displays the nobility in his character by forgiving Lancelot, and allowing Lancelot to die with the knowledge that he was still considered a knight of Arthur?s round table.
?[Arthur] was not born to live a man?s life.? It was only until his last hours that he was able to live with the knowledge of who he was. He died valiantly, ?[riding] with [his] knights to defend what was and the dream of what could be.?
Realizing one?s greatness is the ultimate purpose of all human life. Arthur?s many experiences made it possible for him to reach this realization. There is great disappointment in knowing that which could have been, but never came to be. Greater tragedy, as seen in the life of Arthur, can only be found in that which finally was at the exact moment that it could no longer exist.