In Phantastes, George MacDonald uses allegorical settings to reflect an individual's emotions. For example, one point, Anodos, dreary and depressed, wanders around blindly in Fairy Land in search of the white lady. The setting that surrounds Anodos reflects his inner self.

I stood on the shore of a wintry sea...It was bare, and waste, and gray. Hundreds of hopeless waves rushed constantly shorewards, falling exhausted upon a beach of great loose stones, that seemed to stretch miles and miles in both directions...Sign of life was nowhere visible. I wandered over the stones, up and down the beach, a human imbodiment of the nature around me" (125). Like the waves, he feels "hopeless" and "exhausted." Like the landscape, his soul remains "bare, and waste, and gray."

Anodos will not find happiness, and the setting will not change, until he learns that to sacrifice is the highest and truest form of love. When he dies after sacrificing himself for the knight, the landscape changes: "They laid me in the grounds of their own castle, amid many trees; where as it was spring-time, were growing primroses, and blue-bells, and all the families of the woods" (180). The description of the changed setting in the novel also reflects Anodos' internal change. The world, no longer gray, hopeless, and wintry, grows and flourishes in spring-time, reflecting Anodos' self-contentment.

How does MacDonald's use of this technique differ from Dickens's?.


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Last modified 1993