Summary Of Le Guin's The Child And The Shadow

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In 1975, fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin delivered a lecture discussing a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale she remembered from childhood. In this story, a man burdened by cowardice could not gather the courage to visit the house of the pretty woman that lived across the street. His shadow; his dark desires and guilty pleasures, wanted the man to go across the street. Yet, the man did not want to for he was afraid, this fear caused him to tell the shadow to leave. Thus, the shadow left. The shadow goes on to explore the house of the pretty woman, and accordingly strays unaccompanied and unattended through the world. Years later, the man and the shadow reconnect. The man discovers that his actions have now caused his shadow to become his “master”, and missing that part of himself, the man is executed. Le Guin uses this dark tale in combination with Jungian psychology and Daoism philosophy to illustrate that a person and their shadow must interact and coexist with each other to survive. Without this balance, life will be impossible. Throughout “The Child and the Shadow”, Le Guin makes eloquent points about the importance of a person’s shadow, Carl Jung’s archetypes in relation to the shadow, and how fantasy novels help children adapt to the traumatic events of reality. In Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, the man is executed. The man had rid himself of his shadow, attempting to hide the flaws that were lurking inside. For, in the words of Le Guin, “The shadow is the

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