Amanda Gee

Enter now: Fantastic Worlds in the novels of Charles Dickens and George MacDonald
English Literature
Spring 2017

In Dickens’ novel Little Dorrit, Mr. Dorrit, debtor turned gentleman, draws “castles in the air” as he imagines the possibilities of his newfound riches. His fantastic landscape, however, proves to be only psychological, as it’s born out of and in opposition to his physical reality. In contrast, Mr. Vane, the protagonist of George MacDonald’s novel, Lilith, enters a world of part fairytale and part terrifying allegory. His experience within a physically fantastic landscape consequently reshapes his understanding of reality. For my senior English Honors thesis, I want to compare Dickens’ and MacDonald’s depictions of traveling into imagined and imaginative landscapes. Both authors suggest that the deficiency of the immediate world results in the entrance into these landscapes, whether mentally like Mr. Dorrit or physically Mr. Vane. I am currently familiarizing myself with critical theory about the portrayals of fantasy and imagination in literature. My research draws on both contemporary publications, such as Elaine Scarry’s Dreaming by the Book, and nineteenth century research, such as Coleridge’sBiographia Literary. Part of my research will continue current scholarship on Dickens’ incorporation of fairytale in his novels. At the same time, academic research on Macdonald’s re-imagination of mythology is limited; I hope to show that his theories on “Fancy” and “Imagination” are relevant to current literary study on British Romanticism.