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A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea


by Ursula K. Le Guin

Man and the Natural World Quotes in A Wizard of Earthsea

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #7

Every prentice-sorcerer learns the tale of the wizard Bordger of Way, who delighted in taking bear's shape, and did so more and more often until the bear grew in him and the man died away, and he became a bear, and killed his own little son in the forests, and was hunted down and slain. (7.84)

Balance is presented as an important attribute when dealing with the natural world, but it's also an important personal quality. That is, when you transform into an animal, you might want to balance that out with some time as a human being. Perhaps one way to think about this would be to remember one's place in the natural world.

Quote #8

Had he not used that magic he would have been hard put to keep the crank little boat on such a course, on that rough sea. (8.9)

This part confuses us: the whole book has been about maintaining the Balance, but then, as soon as Ged's hunting the shadow, it seems fine to use magic to sail. What makes sailing different than, say, when rain falls on Ged? Perhaps this is a reminder to us that Ged is engaged in serious business.

Quote #9

So he laid charms of heal and ward on children who were lame or sickly, and spells of increase on the villagers' scrawny flocks of goats and sheep… (9.3)

In his travels, Ged does some good work for people he meets, and that work involves a fair amount of magic. For instance, he heals one guy's eyes (9.2) before he goes on to charm his flocks and tools. Notice that this is also an intervention in the natural order, but it's one that Ged doesn't think twice about. Why is it OK to help these people and interfere with the natural world? Perhaps, in some ways, what makes this different is that he's doing it for other people, not for himself.

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