Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard Of Earthsea And L. Frank Baum’s The Dummy That Lived

948 words - 4 pages

Readers tend to idolize protagonists of stories. Atticus Finch, Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter – they are all characters that possess a positive tone from the author. In pieces of writing associated with fantasy, however, it would only be more suitable to call these characters, heroes. Particularly in high fantasy, the hero ventures on an aptly named “hero’s journey.” However, the hero will always discover the “call to adventure” at the beginning of the story. At that point, the protagonist realizes that he or she possesses a unique ability. In high fantasy, that ability generally involves magic. Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea serves as a prime example of this notion. The protagonist, Ged, goes on a journey to quench his thirst for better understanding of wizardry. Another example of fantasy would be L. Frank Baum’s “The Dummy that Lived,” in which a fairy’s mischievous acts lead to a chain of trouble for the victim. Both Le Guin and Baum use magic in high fantasy literature to symbolize the need for maturity in a protagonist, or the creature casting the spell, and therefore promote the importance of responsibility to those who hold great power.
Ged had realized his potential with magic after he saved his village by conjuring a dense fog surrounding the land. This mist blocked the view of the invading Karg barbarians, and the news of his heroism would spread all over Gont. Soon enough, word got to the great mage, Ogion the Silent. He arrived to Ged’s village of Ten Alders. Ogion claims that the boy will not “be a common man…I have come here to give him his name, if as they say he has not yet made his passage into manhood” (Guin 14). Le Guin summons Ogion to assist Ged for two reasons. For one, Ged is still a wizard with no training, with potential to cause great harm. His skills need mastering, so Ogion has arrived. Ogion would symbolize the maturity and experience that Ged needs to become a successful wizard. Second, the “helper” of the protagonist is quintessential in a hero’s journey. Without a helper, or someone to guide the hero, the adventure cannot begin and the hero would remain slightly stupid.
After deciding to further his magic from someone other than Ogion, Ged headed to the island of Roke to attend the famous school for wizards. Ged, or Sparrowhawk as he was called since his true name could not be revealed, became boastful quickly of his skill. He soon casted a dangerous spell in light of peer pressure from other students, but the summon went faulty. The leader of the school, Archmage Nemmerle quickly came to the rescue and scared away the dark spirit Ged had summoned. Through the night, Nemmerle stood on that hillside, acting as a patrol for the loose spirit. In keeping the spirit away, Nemmerle died. However, “the...

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