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The Germanic And Celtic Tradition By George Mac Donald

1000 words - 4 pages

The Germanic and Celtic Tradition by George MacDonald

One of the most interesting things about fairytales is how the author has borrowed ideas from ancient myths and legends and kept them alive in their writings. The Princess and the Goblin is one of these fairytales. In writing this novel, George MacDonald has incorporated much of the folk tradition in his characters and plot. Specifically, his concept of goblins seem to be drawn from the tradition of dwarfs, gnomes, and kobolds of Germanic myth and the fairies, or elves, of Celtic myth.

In accordance with the Celtic and Germanic traditions, the goblins of The Princess and the Goblin dwell inside mountains, away from sunlight and ...view middle of the document...

Dwarfs are known to be "stronger, craftier, and more skilful than humans" (Kafton-Minkel, 34), and this characteristic is also attributed to the goblins in The Princess and the Goblin; although the goblin queen was surrounded by "such skilful workmen" (MacDonald, 207), she still hadn't had a replacement shoe made.

Those are not the only similarities between MacDonald's goblins and the subterranean creatures of the folk tradition. Another similarity is their attitude towards and their treatment of humans. Most dwarfs and gnomes were said to be obsessed with the accumulation of precious metals and gems. They "consider themselves guardians of the earth's treasures" (Kafton-Minkel, 35), and would therefore do anything to prevent the miners or other treasure-hunters from finding the precious stones. Dangerous tricks, including leading miners to dangerous sites in the mine or causing cave-ins are examples of the kind of measures they would take. If the dwarfs are somehow forced into making weapons or jewellery for humans, they would sometimes curse their creations, making the owners miserable (Kafton-Minkel, 35). To a degree, dwarfs resemble me n physically, but are infinitely less beautiful. It is said that some dwarfs are envious of humans' "tall statures and fair complexions" (Kafton-Minkel, 35) and hate them all the more because of it. The goblins in The Princess and the Goblin have different reasons for hating humans, but despise them all the same. Perhaps they are also a little jealous of them (though not of their toes), because their lawns are so much fun to romp on (MacDonald, 102) and the food is so much more plentiful. The goblins' hatred brings them to cause mischief among the human ranks; "their great delight was in every way they could think of to annoy the people who lived in the open air above them" (MacDonald, 4). They terrorize those who dare to walk alone along the mountain paths, and take the sheep from their...

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