In George MacDonald's Phantastes Anodos, a man from the familiar human world, is transported into Fairy Land on the morning of his twenty-first birthday. In his travels about this new world he encounters both triumph and tragedy throughout the course of many strange adventures. It is interesting to note however, that most of the ill that befell him in his adventures were the result of his own actions. Over and over again, though he had been warned by another person or by some internal sense not to do something, he foolishly ignored the warning and often had to deal with the consequences for the rest of the tale.

Then the woman spoke, but without lifting her head or looking at me: "You had better not open that door." This was uttered quite quietly, and she went on reading . . . the prohibition, however, only increased my desire to see; and as she took no further notice, I gently opened the door its full width and looked in. [p.56]

Yet the revulsion from hope and fruition was such that, unable to restrain myself, I sprang to her and, in defiance of the law of the place, flung my arms around her, as if I would tear her from the grasp of visible Death, and lifted her from the pedestal down to my heart. [p. 117]


1. Why does MacDonald create a hero who has almost no self-control?

2. Is the fact that nearly every advancement in the plot comes from Anodos' failure significant?

3. How is MacDonald able to keep us, the readers, from dismissing the hero for his continually foolish behavior?


MacDonald, George. Phantastes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000.

Last modified 9 February 2004