The Enchanted Castle Essay - Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series The Enchanted Castle Analysis

Edith Nesbit

Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series The Enchanted Castle Analysis

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Like Nesbit’s other works, The Enchanted Castle first appeared as a serial in the Strand, a popular magazine aimed more at adults than at children, and some critics have complained that the story is inappropriate for sensitive young readers because of its focus on the panic that can accompany enchantment. Not only do the dummies (“Ugly-Wuglies”) who come to life because of Mabel’s careless wish launch a murderous attack on Lord Yalding before reverting to their inanimate state, but it also turns out that those who do not wear the ring are subject to a phobic terror at the conditions of some of the adventures. Moreover, adults are even more susceptible than children to this feeling: Eliza runs shrieking through the town after touching one of the animated statues, an American ghost hunter flees Yalding Towers after coming face to severed head with the object of his quest, and Lord Yalding himself experiences a “terror of madness” when the ring causes him to doubt his own sanity. While by modern standards the horror is tame, The Enchanted Castle is unique in the Nesbit canon for its emphasis on magic as not merely inconvenient or exciting (and it certainly possesses both qualities) but also fearful.

The novel suggests that this fear may be associated with loss of control over the self. Thus, those who wear the ring are often incapable of removing it when they would like to do so, just as those who encounter manifestations of the magic cannot face those manifestations with equanimity. The fantastic is larger than life and...

(The entire section is 642 words.)