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9 Cards in this Set

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1. In his 1947 essay 'On Fairy-Stories', J. R. R. Tolkien claims that since fantasy deals with 'marvels,' 'it cannot tolerate any frame or machinery suggesting that the whole framework in which they occur is a figment or illusion.'

2. In this essay, I shall argue that the author's creation of a credible 'framework' in which to present the 'marvels' of the fairy story is, as Tolkien suggested, a key component of the fantasy genre.

3. By focussing in particular on the acts of eating and drinking, C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien and George MacDonald each authenticate their fantastic worlds by observing certain unbreakable 'laws' of existence.

Paragraph 1

1. The primary aim of successful fantasy, Tolkien suggests, is to create an 'inner consistency of reality', with the text strictly adhering to a fixed set of 'rules' which govern each aspect of the narrative.

2. Writing in 'The Fantastic Imagination', George MacDonald proposes a similar framework.

3. 'A man's inventions may be stupid or clever,' he argues, 'but if he does not hold by the laws of them, he contradicts himself as an inventor (...) To be able to live a moment in an imagined world, we must see the laws of its existence obeyed.'

Paragraph 2

1. In an attempt to create this 'inner consistency of reality', writers of fantasy for children often impose limits on the fantastical or magical elements of the text.

2. The 'Secondary world' may be grounded in the basic principles of the 'Primary world'; while the characters of fantasy novels may engage in incredible pursuits, they are equally preoccupied with hunger, thirst and exhaustion.

3. 'Ordinary life', Tolkien writes, 'spring(s) up ever unquenched (...) breathing, eating, working, begetting.' ('Letter 131 to Milton Waldman')

Paragraph 3




Paragraph 4

1. In the texts of C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling, adherence to the laws of the 'Primary world' emerges in the characters' relationship to food and drink.

2. Two key 'rules' of existence become evident.

3. The first dictates that no character is exempt from hunger, while the second dictates that food - although it may appear to materialise from nothing - cannot be created at will.

Paragraph 5

1. In 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', the childrens' thoughts often turn to sourcing their next meal.

2. From their first introduction to Narnia, the entire narrative is almost derailed by concerns over dinner; as Susan points out, the children have brought nothing to eat. 'I wonder,' she suggests, 'if there's any point in going on (...) What about just going home?'

3. Food, necessary in keeping hunger at bay, is highly sought after and often difficult to come by.

Paragraph 6

1. The primary quest of the novel is delayed by their determination to carry enough to eat - faced with a long journey ahead, Mrs Beaver bundles together a load for each child - while

the appearance of Father Christmas provides much needed sustenance.

2. Only one edible item appears from nowhere in the text - the witches' Turkish Delight - and it is described as 'bad magic food', dangerously addictive and insubstantial.

Paragraph 7

1. In the Harry Potter series, Rowling explicitly dictates that food may be transformed, increased and transferred from place to place, yet it cannot be created from nothing.

2. In comparison with Lewis' non-magical protagonists, Rowling's witches and wizards are afforded greater freedom in terms of magical powers yet still face the problem of finding something to eat.

3. This element of magical law is most firmly reinforced during the seventh novel as the protagonists' final quest is continually impeded by hunger.

4. Foraging for mushrooms in the countryside, they consistently fail - despite Hermione's best efforts - to 'produce food out of thin air.'

Paragraph 8

1. George MacDonald's 'The Princess and the Goblin' provides a final example of this conventional preoccupation with food.

2. Irene's mysterious grandmother - more 'supernatural' than either Lucy, Edmund, Susan, Peter or even Harry - is given a tangible food source, gaining sustenance from the pigeon eggs she has collected.

3. While MacDonald is evasive as to whether or not this fantastical figure is 'real' or illusory, he does take care to account for the way in which she eats.

4. Thus, the magical is grounded in an appreciation for the practical, with the 'Secondary world' dependent on the rules of the 'Primary world.'