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. There are many elements of fairy tales that exist within the grandmother's world and Irene's relationship with her grandmother and her nurse, Lootie. Archetypes such as the attic, birds, the moon, and fire exist within her grandmother's world and archetypes such as the underground exist within the world she guides Irene through. The grandmother embodies characteristics of the good witch with supernatural powers, who guides Irene on her journey, while Lootie embodies characteristics of a wicked witch, who hinders her right of passage into adulthood.
Irene's first encounter with her grandmother is one of ambivalence, which parallels the stage of puberty she is in. This is the stage of her journey when she is not sure how far from the safety of her mother figure, the nurse, she should wander. Irene does not stay very long with her grandmother, as she is not fully ready to leave childhood. There are elements of Charles Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood and The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood in Irene's first visit with her grandmother. Her discovery of the grandmother is very...
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...hat exist in this story follow the fairy tale tradition. The princess is transformed into a young woman with the aid of a helper. This helper is her grandmother, who gives her the tools to cut the invisible thread, and be led by her own powers. The princess discovers another world beyond her nursery and the walls of the palace that becomes more and more real every time she lets go of someone's hand.
MacDonald, George. The Princess and the Goblin. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1996
Perrault, Charles. "Little Red Riding Hood." in Folk & Fairy Tales. Eds. Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek. 2nd edition. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press Ltd., 1996. 25-27.
Perrault, Charles. "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood." in Folk & Fairy Tales. Eds. Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek. 2nd edition. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press Ltd., 1996. 40-48.
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