George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin

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George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin All over the world people have believed in a race of creatures, superhuman and subhuman, that are not gods or ghosts, but differ from humans in their powers, properties, and attributes (Briggs, Vanishing 27). The concepts of these creatures/fairies have been passed down through generations in many cultures through forms such as songs, sayings, and stories. Stories such as folktales and myths have wide array of fairy types found in them from various cultures' folklores (Abrams 101). Little people (lesser spirits) are often considered a subclass of fairies and include creatures like gnomes, trolls, and goblins (Rose 200, South 329). George MacDonald in his myth novel, The Princess and the Goblin, draws from many folk sources to bring to life his underworld "goblins." These "goblins" are an amalgamation of various types of little people. MacDonald effectively brings together attributes of goblins, dwarfs and trolls, gnomes and kobolds, and brownies to create a narrative full of tension and humour. First, MacDonald's "goblins" once lived above ground as humans, but they chose refuge underground to avoid severe taxes placed on them by the king (MacDonald 3). Through time, these people were transformed into "goblins." This is similar to the common suggested origin of the little people as humans conquered by other races that now conceal themselves from their conquerors (South 334). The fairies are often said to have been Eve's children whom she hid from God because she was embarrassed by them; God was not deceived and decided that those children should be "hidden from all Mankind" forever (Briggs, Vanishing 31). These origins suggest that the creatures are half human, which is a common idea in Scandinavian tradition (Briggs, Vanishing 31). This human origin of the "goblins" suggests that they are one side of human nature. There is a tension between the "goblins" and the humans as they show different aspects of life and morality. Second, the goblins, dwarfs and trolls, gnomes and kobolds, and brownies are all small, but they are humanlike in form though often described as misshapen and grotesque, and except for brownies, they are also often described as being old with gray hair and beards (Rose 51, 93, 128, 316). MacDonald's "goblins" are dwarfed and hideous, and though they are not described as old looking, their cleverness is associated with this characteristic (MacDonald 4). The use of these common folklore images of little people creates creatures that can be imagined easily by the reader.
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