Study Guide

Ged's Aunt in A Wizard of Earthsea

By Ursula K. Le Guin

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Ged's Aunt

There's a saying in Earthsea: "Weak as woman's magic." Also, "Wicked as woman's magic" (1.19). What does that all mean? It means that Ged's aunt isn't very educated … because she's a woman. (Don't worry too much; in the later books, Le Guin starts asking all sorts of questions about why there are no women at the Roke school.)

That is, Ged's aunt is just a village witch who teaches Ged some basics about magic. But what she doesn't teach him is just as important: she doesn't tell him about the Pattern and the Balance (1.19). And that's because she's just a simple woman. (Although, to be fair, there are a lot of men who also don't know anything about Pattern and Balance, like all the wandering weatherworkers who just knock clouds around whenever they feel like it.)

In other words, Ged's aunt sets the tone for Ged's education: he learns magic (and he's very good at it), but, alas, he doesn't (at first) learn about his place in the universe. (Which is totally what aunts are supposed to teach nieces and nephews, sheesh.)

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