Elements of Magical Realism and Fantasy in The Donkey Prince

Elements of Magical Realism and Fantasy in The Donkey Prince

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Elements of Magical Realism and Fantasy in The Donkey Prince

    "The Donkey Prince" is a short story written by Angela Carter in 1970. Carter is an English novelist. Her story is a mixture of fantasy, myth, and magical realism. I do believe that fantastical literature and magical realism are related in a lot of ways. As I read through the magical realism and fantastical novels, I noticed more similarities than differences.


Briefly, the story I read was about a young prince being transformed into a donkey. It was one of the witchcraft stories where the young boy/girl had to retrieve a certain thing to be transformed back into his/her normal self. A role of magical realism was played as well as fantastical literature. "Bring out the apple," said Terror. "I would give my name, my rank, and my reputation, as a warrior to possess even a quarter of your magic"(32). Magical Realism and fantastical literature are brought together by the fantasy of a young boy being transformed and the magic that would make that transformation happen.


The main character in this story is a donkey named Bruno. He played a magical role by being able to be a prince donkey. What was magical about the whole story was the people and creatures look at each other in different ways. As on earth, here in real life, people do not get the real magical idea of life.


This story gives a perfect example of what Faris says about John Updike's statement ,"Magical realism combines realism and the fantastic in such a way that magical elements grow organically out of elements portrayed"(Faris 163). Some of the elements are the donkey prince, Wild Men mountain, birds that sang, and a magic apple. A person could get a realization of magical realism and fantastical literature even by reading a children's story. Doing so takes an imagination in the adult life as well as the childs'. I think if a person does not involve the fantastic and the magical realism, the story is not as good.


The material that I read about fantastical literature stated that fantastic is portrayed as the indistinguishability between the real and the unreal. It has a preoccupation with style and an interest in transforming "the common and everyday into the awesome and the unreal"(Flores 114). This statement, to me, is a good comparison coming from two different views.

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"The Judgment"(1912) is a "Metaphantasmal world of nightmares....the novelty therefore consisted in the amalgamation of realism and fantasy"(Leal 120). Leal says right there that there is a comparison of magical realism and fantastical literature. Both are mixed together in a lot of different ways. Now I have to question what I just said? Simpkins states that Leal says that a person cannot put fantastical literature and magical realism in the same category(Simpkins 146). I am very confused there. It seemed like a contradiction seemed to take place.


Todorov mentions the natural and supernatural in his fantastical literature. In Faris and Zamora's book, authors such as Leal, Simpkins, and Flores mention the supernatural and the natural. It is said that a resolution is never provided. I believe that statement.


I still stand by what I say about the fantastic being based on a person's own opinion. Faris talks about Todorov's well-known formulation of the fantastic as existing during a story when a reader hesitates between uncanny, where an event is explainable according to the laws of the natural universe as we know it, and the marvelous, which requires some alteration in those laws(Faris171). Some events are unexplainable, but the reader has to accept the fantastic and the magic.


Rabkin boggles my mind slightly by stating, "The fantastic is a quality of astonishment that we feel when the ground rules of a narrative world are suddenly made to turn a 180." I did not know we had ground rules in literary works. I also think that he should involve magical realism in that statement. Fantastical literature as well as magical realism can both be put under the category of astonishment.


When people would look at the characteristics of magical realism as well as fantastical literature, they would see more similarities than differences. Dreams, fantasies, miracles, make-believe, unreal, are fantastical. Magical, unknown, suspicious, unreal, fantastical, imaginary are of magical realism. Why not just place the two in the same category? To be truthful, the only real difference in one is about dreaming and the other is the realization a person gets out of it.


I have read a lot of stories on magical realism and a little bit on fantastical literature. In reading these stories, I have not found too many differences in the two. Authors, such as Todorov, Rabkin, and Leal, do not really have an argument from my point of view. If they would tell in some clarity what they see different in these two literary works then I would have a different opinion.


I will stand by my opinion in believing that magical realism and fantastical literature are related in a lot of ways. Some may see it from my point of view, or others my see it like Todorov's and Leal's. It is based mainly on opinion. Also, a person must have a willingness to believe and a big imagination.



Works Cited

Carter, Angela. The Donkey Prince. New York, N.Y. First U.S. Printing. 1970.

Flores, Angel. "Magical Realism: Post Expressionism. "Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community." Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham; N.C.: Duke UP, 1995. 109-117

Leal, Luis. "Magical Realism: Post-Expressionism. "Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community." Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B. Faris. Durham; N.C.: Duke UP, 1995.119-124.

Rabkin, Eve S. The Fantastical in Literature. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1976.

Todorov, Tzventon. The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Form. Cleveland: The Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1973.

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