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Idylls of the King: the Coming of Arthur

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Idylls of the King: The Coming of Arthur

The authors of literature, direct or indirectly, always link elements of the plot in their work to facts in history, past or present. By reading a work of literature, a reader can use the text and context clues to pull out facts about the author's life and the society he or she is living in. Alfred Lloyd Tennyson's famous epic poem, Idylls of the King, has many plot elements that can be related to the Victorian era.

The Idylls of the King as a whole represents the rise and fall of civilization. During the Victorian era, Queen Victoria helped to stimulate and improve society. Before her reign, life in Great Britain was not the greatest. The society and economy were trying to recover from all the wars that had been fought in the last sixty years including the Seven Years War, the American Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars. When Queen Victoria received the crown, the period of her reign saw much prosperity for the British people as a result of profits acquired through the vast British Empire and industrial improvements at home. The end of the Victorian era, due to Queen Victoria's death, brought in the Edwardian period. During this era of British history, the people viewed the monarchy as anachronistic due to the events of World War I and the injustice of class division. Queen Victoria's reign is described by "rapid change and developments in nearly every sphere - from advances in medical, scientific and technological knowledge to changes in population growth and location" ("Victorian England").

In the first book of Idylls of the King, the land of Cameliard is described by "...waste,/Thick with wet woods, and many a beast therein,/And none or few to scare or chase the beast/So that wild dog, and wolf and boar and bear/Came night and day, and rooted in the fields,/And wallow'd in the gardens of the King" (Tennyson, 1283). This view of Cameliard is seen before King Arthur reigns. Tennyson uses this description to show how the Great Britain was perceived before Queen Victoria's reign. During the time period before her reign, Great Britain was seen as a "waste" due to wars fought for almost sixty years straight. However, after King Arthur came to power, Cameliard saw a period of prosperity and peace just like Queen Victoria's era of reign.

The Coming of Arthur "introduces the basic myth of a springtime hero transforming a wasteland and inspiring faith and hope in the highest values of civilized life among his devoted followers" (Tennyson, 1282). Like King Arthur in The Coming of Arthur, Queen Victoria transformed Great Britain from its war-time "wasteland" to a period of peace and contentment among the people. The values of civilized life were honored and obeyed by Queen Victoria which allows her to be viewed as a good role model for the people of her



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