Cliff’s Papper Essay, Research Paper

The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone is a book about an adopted child named Wart.

He is of royal blood and does not know this. One day when Wart is in


forest, he finds a magician named Merlin. Merlin comes home with

Wart and

agrees with Sir Ector, Wart’s guardian, to become Wart’s tutor.


goes about educating Wart by transforming him into different


Through each transformation Wart experiences different forms of

power, each

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


the ruler. This fish takes what he wants because of his size. In a


about power, he tells Wart that, “Might is right,” and might of the

body is

greater than might of the mind. Because of the way the fish-king

rules, his

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


mews. All the birds in the mews have a military rank. Their leader

is an

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

instance, Wart is ordered to stand next to the cage of a crazy hawk


almost kills him. On the other hand, her seasoned age brings


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


There is a single leader of the ants, and she is the only thinking

individual in the whole nest. All the ants are manipulated and

overseen by

her. Each ant has a specific task, which it completes repeatedly.


absolute power exerted by the leader destroys all individualism,


the ants with no creativity. Instead, they use trial and error to


tasks that should take only a small amount of thought. Wart sees


occur when an ant tries with difficulty to organize three cadavers

in a

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

geese are a peace loving race that never kill. 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


migration group agree he is capable of doing the job. During the


the geese obey his choices, since he is their elected leader. But


power ends once they are back on the ground, where he is only looked


as a respected elder.

In the final transformation Wart visits the badger. The badger is a

great philosopher who enjoys giving scholarly commentaries. While

Wart is

visiting him, he explains a story he has written on the creation of


animal kingdom’s hierarchy. In his commentary he explains how man


God’s riddle and is awarded control over the animal kingdom. He

lives a

life of solitude because many other animals do not think at his

level. They

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,

and who

has the required skills will complete the task at hand, as do the


Leaders must give great thought to making decisions related to their

use of

power, and use their experience, like the Badger. Also like the


these decisions should be made without the help of others, and


may lead to solitude. T. H. White is therefore similar to Merlin in


to teach us about leadership.

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