The Phantastic Spirit: Experiencing the Real Self and the Person of God through the Imagination of George MacDonald

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Title: The Phantastic Spirit: Experiencing the Real Self and the Person of God through the Imagination of George MacDonald
Author: Ellern, Holly
Advisors: Dr. Mary Helen Thuente, Committee Chair
Dr. Sharon Joffe, Committee Member
Dr. Leila May, Committee Member
Abstract: According to the philosophy of Victorian writer and preacher George MacDonald, the individual can realize his/her true identity through unity with the person of God. MacDonald believed that one experiences God unconsciously but becomes conscious of this spiritual encounter through the symbolic language of the imagination. In his novel Phantastes (1858), spiritual unity continually takes the symbolic form of an ideal state of oneness between a parent and child. An interpretation of Phantastes through the lens of Carl Jung's depth psychology reveals that literary symbols of MacDonald's unconscious can be regarded as consistent with his religious beliefs. In the novel, MacDonald communicates to the reader what he considers to be the true human identity of childhood, while also striving toward his own self-realization through the spiritual experience of creating literary art. This thesis explores how MacDonald endeavors to bring the reader through the practice of reading and imagining into a conscious realization of the spiritual experience of God. In Phantastes, he uses British and German Romantic ideas of the nature and function of the imagination and combines them with embodiments of ideal spiritual unity between parent and child archetypes and the experience of reading fantasy literature to show the spiritual maturation of the protagonist Anodos. Through Anodos's development toward the identity of mature childhood, or 'sonship,' in relation to the divine parent, MacDonald attempts to foster the same spiritual growth toward self-realization in his reader.
Date: 2008-04-09
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/1139


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