Fantasy Genre: A Lens Into Ourselves

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Fantasy Genre: A Lens Into Ourselves “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one” (Martin 2000). This was a quote written by one of the most well known authors of our time, George R. R. Martin, and how true it is. Readers of the fantasy genre live lives full of magic, kings, castles, and heroes. The fantasy genre is one with deep roots in history, and it is still popular today. It has evolved through the years with changing opinions and beliefs, but fantasy literature from ancient times, the recent past, and the present, can be used to understand ourselves, our desires, and what is going on around us. People have been telling stories of noble heroes, great kings, and hideous monsters for millennia.…show more content…
One example is in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter as Voldemort seeks everlasting life. Immortality is also shown in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings when the immortal elf, Arwen, chooses to give up her eternal life to stay with the mortal she loved. These stories all take a fragment out of Gilgamesh’s tablet, so to speak. They depict immortality as something negative, urging readers to live their lives and to not fear death. The inevitability of death and the concept of grief consuming you is something that all humans have had to deal with, even in ancient times. Seeing the ancient influence on Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings helps us to understand ourselves and humanity more. Although many aspects of the genre come from ancient times, fantasy literature has evolved a lot within the modern age. Changes in culture, morals, norms, opinions, and preferences that come from current events are reflected in any kind of literature, and fantasy is no exception. In 1914 the first world war broke out. J. R.R. Tolkien served as a Lieutenant, and the war is often said to have influenced his writing. Tolkien denied that his novels were an allegory of the war, but other people say, “The Lord of the Rings is a mirror. A Middle-Earth threatened with…show more content…
Recently, audiences of the fantasy genre have craved a more relatable hero and world, An imperfect fan can find it hard to relate to a perfect hero. We can’t imagine ourselves in a perfect world where no one dies and good always wins. “ In our hearts we all know that outside of fiction the forces of evil are hardly ever marshaled so tightly in the camps of our opponents. A good number of villainy 's ranks are always to be found sleeping in our own tents.” (McCormick 2003). Authors have begun writing darker, grittier stories. Many people would say that the champion of this movement is George R .R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, known best as the HBO series, Game of Thrones. “Tolkien created the genre of epic fantasy, and it is still dominated by his example. Martin is widely credited with taking such fiction in a more adult direction. A Song of Ice and Fire doesn 't truck with orcs and goblins and dark lords and bad and good. It revolves around people, really gritty people, and real situations, things that you don 't see in fantasy” (Miller 2011). A Song of Ice and Fire is notorious for having heroes and even main characters die. It is said of Martin that “None of his characters were guaranteed to survive to the next book, or even to the next chapter.” (Miller 2011). The entire genre has shown a “shift away from the romantic heroic Tolkien tradition to grittier, more morally complex stories that feature antiheroes and depict worlds where good and evil war
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