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Themes

In A Wizard of Earthsea, there's no real separation between man and the natural world. Even though there's magic and all sorts of other supernatural things, everything is part of one natural system. For instance, magic is great and all, but you still need to eat regular food, as Ged explains to Vetch's sister (9.60). That's one serious aspect of man and the natural world: man, even a magician, is part of the bigger world too, and is subject to many of its rules. Also, a big part of Ged's learning (he's a wizard-in-training) is his place in the natural world. He learns that man should not upset the natural balance. Wizards could do the most damage to the balance, so they have to be the most careful when they're dealing with the natural world.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. We've identified two important issues about man and the natural world: 1) man is natural and 2) the magician shouldn't upset the balance. Are there other ways that issue is important in this book? Does the supernatural element of the book interact with the natural element in other ways?
  2. Is this book interested in the environment? Or is the issue of the Balance more philosophical and less about the real world that we live in?
  3. When is it OK to use magic to intervene in the workings of the natural world?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

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