A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea Analysis

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin - is a fantasy novel, published in 1968. Being one among the first stories in the ‘fantasy raw’, A Wizard of Earthsea is considered to be an example of fantasy, having influenced the following works within the genre.

The first thing that should be said about the novel is that it (the novel) is scientifically regarded as an example of coming-of-age story, which means that the plot is connected and probably tells about the process of the main character’s (Duny/Ged) growth (with a great amount of attention paid to the inner side) while the formation of the temper ant thinking are important.

Then, the Earthsea setting itself was influenced by the author’s knowledge of the peculiarities of American and North mythologies, which allowed her to create a fully new world. E. g. in the appearance and believing of the Kargs one may trace the real North roots. Another basis for the novel is a Taoist doctrine about the fundamental primary balance in a universe, to maintain which the wizards are called for. The same origin has the idea of names and language ability to influence and change the reality. Still, the former idea may as well be regarded as the universal contrast of good and evil which can be found not only in Taoist philosophy, as well as language sacral essence and power was typical for the earlier philosophical-linguistics theories of Egypt and India. The name “Earthsea” which literally resembles ‘land and sea’ is a kind of physical equilibrium, which further may be the part of a certain cosmic equilibrium. Probably, the appropriate considerable evaluation of A Wizard of Earthsea was suspended because of the outer resemblance to fantasy story for children, what covered up some important issues of the novel.

As to the author’s conception, Ursula Le Guin develops such themes and ideas in her novel:

1) Balance of Power, which is released in the story mainly in the confrontation of Ged and the Shadow (and the other characters according to their inclinations). This Balance is probably the universal essence, combing both the good and the evil features and letting the characters to take any part. From this idea we may logically trace the following one – the idea of choice and responsibility.

2) There are not pure “bad guys” in the novel, with the exception of Jasper, but still he was just arrogant and careless. The contradictory tempers of Ged and Jasper caused some great trouble. In such case the issue of choice arises when one puts some aims for himself/herself, i.e. whether these are noble or self-interested. The same issue touches ordinary citizens, but with the less degree of significance. But not all the characters turn out to be responsibe for their deeds, and this theme is closely related to our life, and it was one of the points that let the literary critics consider the novel not only as the one for children, but as the novel for ‘adult children’ as well.

Considering the relations among the characters, the importance of friendship, confidence and responsibility again should be mentioned. The characters act in fiction world and situations, but obviously the author appeals to each of us with the claim to be careful and kind.

The novel was the beginning of the unique fantasy world, created and developed by Ursula Le Guin. She is considered to be one of the pioneers of the genre as well as her stories put some basic principles for the future fantasy writings (e.g. J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter”). Being finally highly estimated, the novel won numerous literary awards (Boston Globe - Horn Book Award, Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and nominated for some other) and was screened in 2006.

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