Study Guide

The Once and Future King The Supernatural

By T.H. White

The Supernatural

The Winchester bros would be right at home in the medieval world White creates. For one, there are demons. Merlyn's father is even said to be one. There are also all sorts of fantastic beasts: Questing Beast, dragons, and griffins (oh my!).

Some of the human characters also manipulate forces from the unseen realm, like Merlyn, Morgause, and Morgan le Fay (do those with M-names have a monopoly on the magic market or what?). From little magics to Great Arts, from barges that float on their own to the mystical Holy Grail, there is a world in The Once and Future King that exists beyond just the merely physical one. And this world can be both helpful and hostile.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. How can we classify the various characters who use magic? Think about: Merlyn, Morgause, Morgan le Fay, Nimue, and even Guenever (with her subconscious quasi-clairvoyance).
  2. What is the difference between magic and the type of healing ability Lancelot and Galahad demonstrate? Is one power more legit than the other? Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think Merlyn is the only male character to use magic? How might we think of magic and the supernatural differently if there were other male practitioners?
  4. Aside from characters who use magic, where else do we see the supernatural playing a significant role in the books?

Chew on This

The magic system in White's novels is kind of antifeminist, since lady magic is mostly used for fripperies or mischief, while Merlyn's magic is for serious and legit purposes.

Little of the magic we see used in the books is truly beneficial; it all involves some kind of unforeseen consequences that turn out to be bad.

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