In chapter 9 after Anados has become afflicted by his evil Shadow, he takes hold of the little girl's ball despite her pleas not to touch it:

The music went on growing in intensity and complication of tones, and the globe vibrated and heaved; till at last it burst in our hands, and a black vapour burst upwards from out of it; then turned, as if blown sideways, and enveloped the maiden, hiding even the shadow in its blackness. She held fast the fragments, which I abandoned, and fled from me into the forrest in the direction whence she had come, wailing like a child, and crying, “You have broken my globe; my globe is broken — ah, my globe!

Precisely what does the girl's globe represent, and what has the narrator done?

Later after he has found himself hopelessly trapped in a prison of self, this same girl appears, and her singing frees him. Reminding him of their encounter, she surprisingly tells him "You broke my globe. Yet I thank you. Perhaps I owe you many thanks for breaking it. . . . I have something so much better. I do not need the globe to play for me; for I can sing" (ch. 22). Her words suggest that pain and loss sometimes produce or lead directly to greater happiness, and this idea echoes the traditional children belief (stated most famously by Milton) in the Fortunate Fall — in the idea that Adam and Eve's fall and consequent loss of Eden ultimately results in the greater eternal joy that comes with Christ and his sacrifice. As M. H. Abrams and other scholars have shown, the major romantic poets, particularly Blake and Wordsworth, transform the Fortunate Fall into secular form by arguing that after we lose the earthly paradise of childhood and infant joy, we find compensation in the higher pleasures of the poetic imagination.

Does MacDonald believe in the original religious version of the fortunate fall, the romantic secularized one, a combination of the two, or some fourth possibility? What evidence from Phantastes can you cite in support of your interpretation?


Victorian Web Overview George MacDonald

Last modified 16 October 2002