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Themes Within The Death Of King Arthur English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1048 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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“The Death of King Arthur” is one of the most renowned and successful books written by James Cable. The book focuses on the story of King Arthur and his last days. As the matter of fact, the novel represents the interpretation of the legend on King Arthur made by James Cable. The author re-evaluates the last days of King Arthur, his environment and the historical background. At the same time, James Cable raises a number of important themes which make the book interesting to the mass audience. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the theme of the “Great” King, which King Arthur is a prototype of. Also, the author raises the theme of love, which is closely intertwined with the theme of treachery. In such a way, James Cable raises themes which mirror not only his vision of King Arthur legend but also reflect the historical background and schemes that occurred within his court in that time.

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The theme of the “Great” King

King Arthur is the main character of the book, which personifies the ideal, powerful truly great king, whose authority is unchallengeable. In fact, King Arthur is a truly ideal king because he holds the power in his hands firmly. He is strong, bold, and heroic. He has a great authority and power over his knights and his people. He takes care of his subordinates and does his best for the prosperity of his kingdom. The well-being of his people is one of his priorities and his rule focuses on the favorable conditions for the prosperity of people living in his kingdom. In response, people love sincerely their king and they mourn bitterly when he passes away. In fact, King Arthur was one of a few kings, who have gained the public acclaim and love of his people.

At the same time, King Arthur does not only take care of the domestic affairs but also he focuses on the strengthening of the international position of his country. He participates in the Quest for the Holy Grail but fails. Nevertheless, he never gives up and carries on his heroic acts as a good Christian and King. In such a way, King Arthur turns out to be an ideal King, who observes fundamental moral principles and promotes Christian values, which were of the utmost importance in that time.

The author attempts to evaluate critically King Arthur as the ruler of England but he also slips toward idealization of the king. In such a situation, the attempt of James Cable to make the king closer to the real life does not overshadow his greatness and respect his people felt toward him. No wonder, King Arthur has become a symbol of the Great King for English people.


Love is another central theme of the book “The Death of King Arthur”. In his attempt to show the real King Arthur, James Cable grants him with such human feelings as love, jealousy, and strong feelings and emotions which accompany any affection typical for humans. King Arthur turns out to be an ordinary person who is vulnerable to the impact of sincere feelings and emotions. He proves to be able to love as any other people do and his sincere love does not differ from the love of other people.

In such a way, James Cable debunks the myth about King Arthur as a superior human being deprived of feelings and emotions typical for other humans, including his subordinates. Nevertheless, his love to his wife is sincere and he does not admit even the possibility of treachery from the part of his wife. At the same time, he is unable to betray his wife himself. Thus, willingly or not, James Cable slips toward the idealization of the king depicting him as a good husband, who is fair with his wife, whom he adores.


Obviously, the theme of love is revealed not only from the ideal point of view of King Arthur. The author also shows that love may be unfair because people love each other regardless of their social standing, marital status and their position in the court of King Arthur. In this respect, the theme of treachery arises in the book. James Cable shows that the love of King Arthur confronts rumors concerning love affairs between his wife and his best friend and noble knight Lancelot. The kind does not believe to rumors and he is certain in the faithfulness of his wife as well as he is certain in his friend. However, his wife and Lancelot do have the love affair. In such a way, the author reveals the dark side of the love. In fact, he shows that it is not always ideal love of a husband and a wife but also love can ruin family relationships and people cannot resist to the strong feeling when they fall in love with each other. In such a situation, love leads to treachery.

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In case of “The Death of King Arthur”, the author depicts the double treachery. First, the wife betrays her husband and King Arthur is deceived bitterly that becomes an unbearable psychological trauma for the king. Second, he is betrayed by his best friend and his knight, whom he trusted so much. Therefore, the double treachery of the king becomes the last straw that leads him closer to his last day.

At the same time, the author shows that even the ideal and great king like King Arthur are not protected from treachery. In all probability, James Cable wants to show readers that human nature is not always good. People are weak and vulnerable to the overwhelming impact of passion which overshadows their responsibility, devotedness and faithfulness.


Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the book “The Death of King Arthur” by James Cable is the story of the great king, who lived a heroic and noble life. He struggled for his kingdom and his faith. He attempted to make the life of his people better and they loved him for that. He had a beloved wife and good friends but still he failed to avoid treachery and wickedness of the real life, which proved to be too cruel to the great king and he could not afford such a stroke as a treachery from the part of his wife and Lancelot, his best friend. In such a way, the book reveals such different themes as love and treachery along with the theme of the great king as an ideal ruler for English people.


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