The Sword in the Stone
forest, he finds a magician named Merlin. Merlin comes home with
agrees with Sir Ector, Wart’s guardian, to become Wart’s tutor.
goes about educating Wart by transforming him into different
being a part of how he should rule as king.
The first transformation plunges Wart and Merlin into the castle’s
moat as fish. They proceed to meet the largest fish in the moat, who
subjects obey him out of fear for their lives. Wart experiences this
firsthand when the fish-king tells him to leave. He has grown bored
Wart, and if Wart does not leave he will eat him. The king uses his
as his claim to power, therefore his subjects follow him out of
In Wart’s next transformation into a hawk, he soars into the
old falcon, who Sir Ector keeps for show. The birds who rank below
falcon, hold her in highest regard because of her age. She applies
power over the other birds with no concern for their lives. In one
since she had not been released once she outlived her usefulness as
huntress. This allows her to maintain a powerful grip over all the
she rules through fear and respect.
Next, Wart is transformed into an ant and posted within an ant
individual in the whole nest. All the ants are manipulated and
her. Each ant has a specific task, which it completes repeatedly.
absolute power exerted by the leader destroys all individualism,
tasks that should take only a small amount of thought. Wart sees
occur when an ant tries with difficulty to organize three cadavers
small burial chamber, when a small amount of reasoning would have
the problem quickly. The ants are of a collective mind, so that what
thinks, they all think. They go about their daily lives oblivious to
control the leader has over them.
Wart’s fourth transformation places him in a flock of geese. These
group who is called The Admiral. He guides them on their flight
the winter. The Admiral receives his position because of his
the southern migration route. He is only elected if all the geese in
migration group agree he is capable of doing the job. During the
the geese obey his choices, since he is their elected leader. But
as a respected elder.
In the final transformation Wart visits the badger. The badger is a
animal kingdom’s hierarchy. In his commentary he explains how man
life of solitude because many other animals do not think at his
listen because he is old and experienced, and with this comes
Through each of the transformations, Wart sees different uses of
power. Wart must choose how he will eventually govern his kingdom.
leaders he visits, govern in their own way, each retaining their
through different methods. When these are combined, the following
of how a leader should or should not rule emerges: A leader should
attempt to rule his or her people through might and fear, as does
fisk-king. Unlike the falcon, a ruler should not retain power only
of age, and should rule with the subjects well-being in mind. One
not exert total control over one’s subjects, because they lose
and individualism as shown by the ants. A democratically elected
whom subjects have faith in his or her ability to get a job done,
has the required skills will complete the task at hand, as do the
power, and use their experience, like the Badger. Also like the
these decisions should be made without the help of others, and
to teach us about leadership.