Fantasy

Definition of Fantasy

Fantasy is a form of literary genre in which a plot cannot occur in the real world. Its plot usually involves witchcraft or magic, taking place on an undiscovered planet of an unknown world. Its overall theme and setting involve a combination of technology, architecture, and language, which sometimes resemble European medieval ages. The most interesting thing about fantasies is that their plot involves witches, sorcerers, mythical and animal creatures talking like humans, and other things that never happen in real life.

Types of Fantasy

Modern Folktales

Modern folktales are types of fantasy that narrators tell in a traditional tale accompanying some typical elements, such as strong conflict, little description of characters, fast-moving plot with a quick resolution, and sometimes magical elements and vague settings. However, these tales are popular, as authors throughout history have written them. Hans Christian Andersen has written several fairy tales of this category including:

  • The Nightingale
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • Thumbelina
  • The Ugly Duckling

Animal Fantasy

Animal fantasy tells tales about animals, behaving like human beings, speaking, experiencing emotions, and having the ability to reason. Nevertheless, animals in animal fantasies retain their various animal characteristics too. Often, such fantasies have simple plots, and constitute literary symbolism by presenting symbolic expression of human counterparts. Popular examples of animal fantasy include:

  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
  • Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter

Toy Fantasy

In toy fantasy stories, narrators bring their beloved toys to life, and transform them into animated beings that can live, talk, think, breathe, love, and behave like human beings. You would see modern toy fantasies in picture book format. Examples include:

  • Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi

Magical Fantasy

In a magical fantasy, you see a character having magical powers, or a strange magical object becomes the subject of the narrative. Such fantasies include

  • Charlie and Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig

Alternative Worlds & Enchanted Journeys

In these fantasies, you see leading character undertaking a journey to an alternative world, or a fantasy world. Though realistic tales also employ journeys, you would only see magical things happen in fantasy journeys. Examples include:

  • Alice Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by K. Rowling
  • Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift

Quest or Heroic Fantasy (High Fantasy)

These fantasies involve adventures with a search, quest, and motif. While this quest could be a pursuit for a higher purpose, like justice and love, or for getting a reward like hidden treasure, or a magical power; the conflict of heroic fantasies focuses on struggle between evil and good. The protagonist struggles with internal weakness and temptations, such as you may observe in these stories:

  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy / Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
  • The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander.

Mystery and Supernatural Fantasy

One of the most common forms of supernatural fantasy is known as a “ghost story.” Ghosts could be either helpful protectors, or fearsome adversaries. However, in a mystery, the solution is always a supernatural one, or through supernatural assistance such as witchcraft. Its best example is:

  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving

Science Fiction

Science fiction is a type of imaginative literature. It provides a mental picture of something that may happen on realistic scientific principles and facts. This fiction might portray, for instance, a world where young people are living on Mars. Hence, it is known as “futuristic fiction.” It dramatizes the wonders of technology, and resembles heroic fantasy where magic is substituted with technology. You can find this type of imaginative fiction in these stories:

  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • Rocket Ship Galileo, by Robert Heinlein
  • The White Mountains, by John Christopher

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction.

Function of Fantasy

We all like fantasy stories, and grow up reading and listening to fantasies. These tales serve to fuel our imaginations, and satisfy our longings for adventure. Thus, fantasy directly relates to our deepest desires and dreams. That is why they are important for increasing power of imagination in growing minds, especially in children. In addition, exposing our minds to lots of romance and magic, the seeking for ideal heroes and beauty queens, adventure, and even deception, captures the attention and imagination of every age group. Also, fantasy has a distinguished writing style, with freedom of expression – the reason that authors can experiment and employ elements of narrative to strengthen their tales.

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