What is the common theme of Odysseus and Wart, the young King Arthur?

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In T.H. White's novel The Once and Future King, Wart, like Odysseus, is placed in situations in which he must use his wits to succeed. Merlyn educates Wart by turning him into various animals--fish, hawk, ant,and goose.  Wart must figure out the type of rules that apply in each particular way of life.  For instance, he learns that the fish operate in with a "might makes right" mentality; the hawks are militaristic; the ants are blind conformists in a totalitarian regime; and the geese need no boundaries to maintain peace.

Each of the animals represent different forms of government, and from them, Wart learns valuable lessons as to how to govern his own people when he becomes the king of Camelot.  Similarly, Odysseus uses his wits to elude the lure of the Sirens and escape imprisonment by the Cyclops.  The major theme that seems to operate in each is the triumph of wit and intelligence over physical power.


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The Once and Future King

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