Anados is sitting on a rock when he decides to take his knife out and begin to carve away the moss that has grown there. As he continues to carve, he realizes that it is not just any kind of a rock on which he is lying: it is a piece of alabaster, a very fine type of stone. He continues to carve away when he realizes that embedded inside of the alabaster is a woman, whom he finds very attractive. He thing begins to ponder how to get the woman out from within the rock:

I thought of the Prince of the Enchanted City, half marble and half a man; of Ariel; of Niobe; of the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood; of the bleeding trees; and many other histories. Even my adventure of the preceding evening with the lady of the beech-tree contributed to arouse the wild hope, that by some means life might be given to this form also, and that, breaking from her alabaster tomb, she might glorify my eyes with her presence. "For," I argued, "who can tell but this cave may be the home of Marble, and this, essential Marble — that spirit of marble which, present throughout, makes it capable of being moulded into any form? Then if she should awake! But how to awake her? A kiss awoke the Sleeping Beauty! a kiss cannot reach her through the incrusting alabaster." I kneeled, however, and kissed the pale coffin; but she slept on. I bethought me of Orpheus, and the following stones — that trees should follow his [68/69] music seemed nothing surprising now. Might not a song awake this form, that the glory of motion might for a time displace the loveliness of rest? Sweet sounds can go where kisses may not enter. I sat and thought."

Questions

1. Does McDonald's reference to Sleeping Beauty, another fairy tale, do the work of foreshadowing as Brontë did in Jane Eyre?

2. Is the fact that this beautiful woman is embedded in alabaster suggest that she might want to stay where she is? Is McDonald telling us that we should not be adventurous but try to find happiness while we are already happy? Or is he telling us that even though things might be stable and nice where we are, should we reach for the sky and continue to search for what's better?


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Last modified 3 February 2003