In the journey throughout Fairy Land, Anodos has just left a village and travels on. He soon comes across a small stream and becomes enraptured by it. He soon drinks from the stream and decides to follow its path.

I drank of this spring, and found myself wonderfully refreshed. A kind of love to the cheerful little stream arose in my heart. It was born in a desert; but it seemed to say to itself, "I will flow, and sing, and lave my banks, till I make my desert a paradise." I thought I could not do better than follow it, and see what it made of it. So down with the stream I went, over rocky lands, burning with sunbeams. But the rivulet flowed not far, before a few blades of grass appeared on its banks, and then, here and there, a stunted bush. Sometimes it disappeared altogether under ground, and after I had wandered some distance, as near as I could guess, in the direction it seemed to take, I would suddenly hear it again, singing, sometimes far away to my right or left, amongst new rocks, over which it made new cataracts of watery melodies. The verdure on its banks increased as it flowed; other streams joined it; and at last, after many days' travel, I found myself, one gorgeous summer evening, resting by the side of a broad river, with a glorious horse-chestnut tree towering above me, and dropping its blossoms, milk-white and rosy-red all about me. [Pages 64-65]



1. What purpose does the small spring serve, and how does it strengthen the story?

2. MacDonald describes the stream with dialogue that the character seems to believe expresses the stream. "It seemed to say to itself, 'I will flow, and sing, and lave my banks, till I make my desert a paradise.'" How is this an effective way to describe the stream?

3. The stream is described as "cheerful" and "singing". How is the use of personification beneficial to the environment MacDonald is trying to portray?

4. The small spring gradually branches out and then expands into a river. What is the significance of this occurring, and how can it be compared to his journey throughout Fairy Land?


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

Last modified 9 February 2004