After Anodos meets up once again with the good knight near the end of Phantastes, his mentor and companion tells him about the ambiguous nature of the realm of Faerie in terms that suggest it might symbolize the human imagination:

Notwithstanding the beauty of this country of Faerie, in which we are, there is much that is wrong in it. If there are great spleandours, there are corresponding horrors; heights and depths; beautiful women and awful fiends; noble men and weaklings. All a man has to do, is to better what he can. And if he can settle it with himself, that even reknown and success are in themselves of no great value, and be content to be defeated, if so be that the fault is not his; and so go to his work with a cool brain and a strong will, he will get it done; and fare none the worse in the end, that he ws not burdened with provision and precaution (Ch. 23).

Although the closing lines of this passage emphasize the importance of motive and comittment regardless of an act's outcome, the opening describes a world that seems to represent the human imagination. If so, what does this passage have to do with the many mentions of singing and songs during the course of the book?

Even more important, what does MacDonald's fantasy therefore say about the importance of imagination in one's moral growth and development.


Victorian Web Overview George MacDonald

Last modified 16 October 2002