Experience is Everything In the book, The Once and Future King, T. H. White shows the importance that education relies heavily upon ones own personal experiences. When Merlyn is called on to tutor Wart, an adopted child, he uses this exact learning method on Wart. Merlyn, who is a magician, uses transformation as a his learning tool. Merlyn turns Wart into different animals to show Wart lessons of life. Through each transformation Wart experiences different forms of power, each being a part of how he should rule as king.
When Wart experiences each of these different stages of lesson he finds out from Mr. P that mind power is nothing, from the wild goose he learns freedom, and the badger teaches him to accept what you have. When Wart is transformed into a fish Merlyn takes him to go talk to the master of the moat, Mr. P. This is the first transformation that Wart will learn his first lesson in.
When Wart approaches Mr. P he already senses a great deal of danger because of his massive size and strength. Wart was so flabbergasted by his enormous structure that he could not think of anything to ask Mr. P. Then Mr. P replies with his view on life, a simple statement, There is only power. Power is of the individual mind, but the mind power is not enough (52). Mr. P is showing the importance of physical power over the minds with this comment he makes.
What Mr. P states astonishes Wart so much that Wart becomes speechless and does not move from where he is positioned. As Mr. P teaches his theories of life he becomes very agitated with Wart and Pronounces, I think you ought to go away really almost at once in case my disillusioned mouth should suddenly determine to introduce you to my gills, which have teeth too (52). As Wart is listening to Mr. P say this he is tunned by the words he is saying to him. Wart is astonished that Mr. P is thinking about eating him.
At this instance Wart has enough time to turn around and swim away just in the nick-of-time to escape from Mr. P. Another one of Wart s transformation places him in a flock of geese. These geese are a peace loving race that never kill. Wart learns all about being a geese from other geese. Wart learns most of his lessons from a goose named Lyo-lyok. Wart and Lyo-lyok talk about how the geese communicate and most everything about geese. When Wart asks, Are we fighting people (169). Wart and Lyo-lyok get in an rgument. Lyo-lyok refuses to listen to Warts explanation to his question. Lyo-lyok did not understand Wart point of view.
Once Wart explains to Lyo-lyok his situation, she then helps Wart in his understanding of the goose. Wart learns that there is one leader to a group who is called The Admiral. He guides them on their flight south for the winter. The Admiral receives his position because of his knowledge of the southern migration route. He is only elected if all the geese in the migration group agree he is capable of doing the job. During the flight the geese obey his choices, since he is their elected eader. But his power ends once they are back on the ground, where he is only looked upon as a respected elder.
Lyo-lyok teaches Wart about this and tells him, this is how Great-uncle became an admiral (171). Through out Wart experiences as a goose he learns alot about why the geese are not a group that fights within their species. Lyo-lyok tells Wart that the only reason humans fight amounts each other is that we set boundaries and that is what causes fighting. In the final transformation Wart visits the badger. The badger is a great philosopher who enjoys giving scholarly commentaries, this is why Merlyn ants this to be Warts last transformation. Merlyn explains that, except for Archimedes, he is the most learned creature I know.
You will like him (183). While Wart is visiting him, he explains a story he has written on the creation of the animal kingdom s hierarchy. In his commentary he explains how man answered God s riddle and is awarded control over the animal kingdom. The Badger explains to Wart, in his view, that God created embryos and that the embryos had a chance to pick out three different characteristics to change about themselves. When man approaches God he states, I think that You made me in the shape which I now have for reasons best known to Yourself, and that would be rude to change 192).
This, God explains is a riddle which Man has solved. In this lesson Wart learns that some things are better off being left alone than being changed. Through each of the transformations, Wart sees different uses of power. Wart must choose how he will eventually govern his kingdom. The leaders he visits, govern in their own way, each retaining their power through different methods. When these are combined, the following picture of how a leader should r should not rule emerges: A leader should not attempt to rule his or her people through might and fear, as does the fish-king.
A democratically elected leader, whom subjects have faith in his or her ability to get a job done, and who has the required skills will complete the task at hand, as do the geese. Leaders must give great thought to making decisions related to their use of power, and use their experience, like the Badger. Also like the Badger, these decisions should be made without the help of others, and therefore may lead to solitude. T. H. White is therefore similar to Merlin in trying to teach us about leadership.