In this passage from Phantastes, MacDonald describes the experiences of Anodos immediately after he escapes the wrath of the Alder. He begins the chapter with a ballad, and proceeds to relate AnodosŐ thoughts. Anodos is distressed by his most recent capture and fortunate escape from the evil Alder and Ash.
"Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew sayes,
A little Ime hurt, but yett not slaine;
He but lye downe and bleede awhile,
And then Ile rise and fight againe." — "Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton"
But I could not remain where I was any longer, though the daylight was hateful to me, and the thought of the great, innocent, bold sunrise unendurable. Here there was no well to cool my face, smarting with the bitterness of my own tears. Nor would I have washed in the well of that grotto, had it flowed clear as the rivers of Paradise. I rose, and feebly left the sepulchral cave. I took my way I knew not whither, but still towards the sunrise. The birds were singing; but not for me. All the creatures spoke a language of their own, with which I had nothing to do, and to which I cared not to find the key any more. I walked listlessly along. What distressed me most - more even than my own folly — was the perplexing question — How can beauty and ugliness dwell so near? Even with her altered complexion and her face of dislike; disenchanted of the belief that clung around her; known for a living, walking sepulchre, faithless, deluding, traitorous; I felt notwithstanding all this, that she was beautiful. Upon this I pondered with undiminished perplexity, though not without some gain. Then I began to make surmises as to the mode of my deliverance; and concluded that some hero, wandering in search of adventure, had heard how the forest was infested; and, knowing it was useless to attack the evil thing in person, had assailed with his battle-axe the body in which he dwelt, and on which he was dependent for his power of mischief in the wood. "Very likely," I thought, "the repentant-knight, who warned me of the evil which has befallen me, was busy retrieving his lost honour, while I was sinking into the same sorrow with himself; and, hearing of the dangerous and mysterious being, arrived at his tree in time to save me from being dragged to its roots, and buried like carrion, to nourish him for yet deeper insatiableness." I found afterwards that my conjecture was correct. I wondered how he had fared when his blows recalled the Ash himself, and that too I learned afterwards.
1. What is the purpose of the ballad before this chapter in particular?
2. How does MacDonald use the description of the surrounding environment to parallel Anodos's recent disenchantment with the Alder? Has the environment become more realistic or fantastic in response? Has Anodos become more distant?
3. Why does MacDonald tell us that Anodos's "conjecture was correct"? Why does he make it clear that Anodos is relating the story to us from a distance rather than tell the story as it happens?
4. How does Anodos's current disillusionment relate to his past and future doubts concerning Fairy Land?
MacDonald, George. Phantastes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000.
Last modified 9 February 2004