THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN (MacDonald, 1872)

Discussion Report, Group __________________ Reporter:__________________________

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(Circle the number(s) of the question(s) your group chose)

1. While this novel is in a sense about growing up, it focuses on maturing in terms of spiritual values. Irene, Curdie, and the country itself go through related rites of passage. Discuss.

2. How does the author use the basic dichotomies of light and dark, earth and water, high and low, to create the effect of a legendary story in a modern work? Give examples! What roles, if any, are played by the other two elemental forces, air and fire, in the imagery and in the plot?

3. We have now become acquainted with an  "English" boy (Curdie) and several Americans (Dick Hunter, his friends, and Tom Shaw). Do the authors have the same conception of what boys are and what children's books should tell them about themselves? Discuss. Give examples!

4. Each adult presented in this novel represents a different aspect, positive or negative, of the possibilities of adulthood for Curdie and Irene. Discuss. Also, are the older goblins adults? Why or why not?

5. Imagine retelling this story exactly as a traditional fairy tale (Once upon a time there was a little princess/a miner's son who....). How and why does MacDonald's story, which is a literary fairytale, differ from this model?

6. When and why do people feel and sometimes express emotions in this book?  Which emotions?  Is the reader invited to share, sympathize, or scorn the emotions, in various cases?