A shadow persistently follows Anodos throughout his journey in Fairyland after he opens a magical door within the house of the ogre. This shadow, intermittently present, can sometimes have a distorting effect on the different creatures and people that Anodos encounters on his journey. During his early experiences with the shadow, he believes that the intermittent black being is necessary to weed out the true essence of the characters he comes across in Fairy Land. After several encounters, Anodos traverses a stream by boat while commenting on his environment.
Why are all reflections lovelier than what we call the reality? — not so grand or so strong, it may be, but always lovelier? Fair as is the gliding sloop on the shining sea, the wavering, trembling, unresting sail below is fairer still. Yea, the reflecting ocean itself, reflected in the mirror, has a wondrousness about its waters that somewhat vanishes when I turn towards itself. All mirrors are magic mirrors. The commonest room is a room in a poem when I turn to the glass . . . In whatever way it may be accounted for, of one thing we may be sure, that this feeling is no cheat; for there is no cheating in nature and the simple unsought feelings of the soul. There must be a truth involved in it, though we may but in part lay hold of the meaning. Even the memories of past pain are beautiful; and past delights, though beheld only through clefts in the grey clouds of sorrow, are lovely as Fairy Land. But how have I wandered into the deeper fairyland of the soul, while as yet I only float towards the fairy palace of Fairy Land! The moon, which is the lovelier memory or reflex of the down-gone sun, the joyous day seen in the faint mirror of the brooding night, had rapt me away.
I sat up in the boat. Gigantic forest trees were about me; through which, like a silver snake, twisted and twined the great river. The little waves, when I moved in the boat, heaved and fell with a plash as of molten silver, breaking the image of the moon into a thousand morsels, fusing again into one, as the ripples of laughter die into the still face of joy. The sleeping woods, in undefined massiveness; the water that flowed in its sleep; and, above all, the enchantress moon, which had cast them all, with her pale eye, into the charmed slumber, sank into my soul, and I felt as if I had died in a dream, and should never more awake. [66-67]
1. Do the shadow's early and relatively more rampant mischievous acts suggest something about Anodos's current state in his journey?
2. Does the imagery of the reflected moon stimulated by the motion of the water suggest anything more about the nature of reflections?
3. Within the passage, is there an implicit idea about real worlds reflected in fantastic ones?
4. Within the context of the story is there really any validity in reflections, considering for example how Anodos was fooled by the outward beauty of the Maid of the Alder-tree?
MacDonald, George. Phantastes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000.
Last modified 9 February 2004