Essay George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin

Essay George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin

Length: 1238 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin


Like many other renowned novels aimed at children, George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin draws extensively from the folk tradition in his telling of the tale. Many of the figures presented, such as the nurse and Curdie, have precedent in the tradition, but the grandmother in particular stands out. Archetypally, she is a variant on the Old Man, though she bears the undeniable touch of the supernatural as seen in common folklore - at times she is otherworldly and some of her actions and abilities are of the sort frequently associated with witches.

The archetype of the Old Man - or, in this case, Old Woman - is one of the most frequently encountered in folk tales, and slips seamlessly into The Princess and the Goblin as Princess Irene's wise, kindly grandmother. In this guise, she provides guidance for the young princess, advising patience with the disbelief of both Curdie and Lootie, the nurse, and encourages Irene to be honest about what she herself has seen despite. In the tradition of the Old Man figure, who often provides an item the protagonist needs to progress on their journey, the grandmother gives the princess a ring with a gossamer thread "too fine for [one] to see it" with instructions on how to use it should Irene find herself in danger which proves instrumental to the outcome of the story (pg. 119). Keeping with the archetype, though, the grandmother never intervenes to take direct action, merely sets up the right conditions for the princess' actions, and is largely content to remain in the attic and allow Irene to come to her. Within the constraints set by previous appearances of Old Man figures in folk tales, there is a lot of leeway for the grandmoth...


... middle of paper ...


... Glinda from L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz.

As a novel recounted in the fairy tale tradition, The Princess and the Goblin succeeds beautifully. It employs the element of the Old Man archetype to aid and advise the princess, woven into an intriguing character with peculiar supernatural aspects drawn from the wider folk tradition. As such, the grandmother becomes a witch who is more than folklore would have one believe, an old woman not quite of this world, and exactly as she would have Princess Irene see her - as a grandmother.

Sources:

Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html

Folklore and Witchcraft
http://shanmonster.bla-bla.com/witch/folklore/index.html

Keightly, Thomas The Fairy Mythology AMS Press, New York, NY, 1968

Briggs, K.M. The Personnel of Fairyland, Singing Tree Press, Detroit, Michigan, 1971

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin Essays

- George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin In his novel The Princess and the Goblin, George MacDonald has cleverly crafted an underground society populated by a distorted and "ludicrously grotesque" race. Within the body of his tale, he reveals that these people are descended from humans, and did in fact, once upon a time, live upon the surface themselves. Only eons of living separated from fresh air and sunlight have caused them to evolve into the misshapen creatures we meet in this story (MacDonald, 2-4)....   [tags: MacDonald Princess Goblin Essays]

Free Essays
1318 words (3.8 pages)

George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin Essays

- 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)....   [tags: MacDonald Princess Goblin essays]

Free Essays
1667 words (4.8 pages)

Essay George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin

- George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin Like many other renowned novels aimed at children, George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin draws extensively from the folk tradition in his telling of the tale. Many of the figures presented, such as the nurse and Curdie, have precedent in the tradition, but the grandmother in particular stands out. Archetypally, she is a variant on the Old Man, though she bears the undeniable touch of the supernatural as seen in common folklore - at times she is otherworldly and some of her actions and abilities are of the sort frequently associated with witches....   [tags: MacDonald Princess Goblin Essays]

Strong Essays
1238 words (3.5 pages)

George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin Essays

- George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin The moon has been worshipped as a female deity since the beginning of time. Not only is the moon a feminine principle, it is also a symbol of transformation due to its own monthly cycle of change. With this in mind, it is clear upon a close reading of The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald that the grandmother figure is a personification of the moon, and as such is a catalyzing agent for Irene's maturation and transformation through the course of the novel....   [tags: MacDonald Princess Goblin Essays]

Free Essays
1170 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on The Grandmother in the Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

- The Grandmother in the Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald The characterizations of women have, throughout history, been one of the most problematic subjects in literary tradition. An extraordinary dichotomy has existed with women as being both the paragon of virtue and the personification of evil. Ancient Greeks feared women, and poets such as Hesiod believed the female sex was created to be the scourge of the gods and the bane of men (Fantham 39). Romans, on the other hand, incorporated tales of brave and virtuous women as an intrinsic part of their legendary history (219)....   [tags: Women Fairy Tales Princess Goblin Essays]

Strong Essays
2072 words (5.9 pages)

Religious Imagery in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin

- Religious education and children's literature have enjoyed a long parallel history. The earliest children's books were little more than religious devotionals or bible stories rewritten with the express enjoyment of children in mind. As children's literature progressed, however, it began to move away from religious instruction and into works that focused more on story. This doesn't mean that the two became mutually exclusive as to this day many works that are still enormously popular with children are rife with religious allegory without sacrificing story....   [tags: Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Princess and ]

Strong Essays
935 words (2.7 pages)

Essay The Germanic and Celtic Tradition by George MacDonald

- The Germanic and Celtic Tradition by George MacDonald One of the most interesting things about fairytales is how the author has borrowed ideas from ancient myths and legends and kept them alive in their writings. The Princess and the Goblin is one of these fairytales. In writing this novel, George MacDonald has incorporated much of the folk tradition in his characters and plot. Specifically, his concept of goblins seem to be drawn from the tradition of dwarfs, gnomes, and kobolds of Germanic myth and the fairies, or elves, of Celtic myth....   [tags: Germanic Celtin Macdonald Fairytales Essays]

Free Essays
954 words (2.7 pages)

MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin Essays

- MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin The Princess and the Goblin is a story about self-realisation and the expansion of limits. The princess, Irene, is able to come to certain conclusions about herself with the help of her grandmother, who lives in the attic upstairs in the palace. The grandmother guides Irene through her rite of passage into adulthood, and helps to bring the princess and Curdie together in the end. However, the reader never really knows whether the grandmother even exists, and it is this uncertainty that causes the reader to question whether she is a personification of a force within Irene that is driving her to achieve all that she does....   [tags: MacDonald Princess Goblin Essays]

Strong Essays
1231 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about "The Princess and the Goblin": Don't Waste Your Time

- Amazingly enough, even back in the 1880s you could look at a sequel and say "Dude, the original was better." "The Princess and Curdie" is the sequel to "The Princess and the Goblin" [link]. It comes across as more moralistic and heavy-handed than the original, and lacks some of its charm. Continuing on to MacDonald's final piece of adult fantasy, "Lilith" (1895) I have come to the conclusion that his genre work took a downhill turn after "The Princess and the Goblin" and never really recovered. "Curdie" starts out one year further on from "Goblin." Curdie is 15 now and turning into a teenager, with a bit of the angst that that entails....   [tags: Literature Review]

Strong Essays
1208 words (3.5 pages)

Split Sisters and Split Personalities of Goblin Market Essay

- Split Sisters and Split Personalities of Goblin Market       "I have 50 different personalities, and still I’m lonely" (Amos). Perhaps everyone is truly composed of multiple personalities embodied within one whole. Whether these split personalities are actual or purely metaphorical, no one human being has a single sided mind, and a single sided position on everything. Within the brain many battles are raged between opposing sides of issues, between the personalities. "Goblin Market" is one of Christina Rosetti’s "sister" poems, a form in which she used sisters to "represent different aspects of the split personality that was caused by conflicting attitudes and mixed emotions towards love...   [tags: Goblin]

Strong Essays
1801 words (5.1 pages)