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The Magus, by John Fowles - short summary

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In The Magus, A brilliant novel written by John Fowles, Nicholas Urfe struggles between living in a world of fiction and learning the difficult lessons of reality. He is taken on a Journey that will lead him to understand why it is best to live in a world with imperfections instead of always rejecting it. Throughout the book, Fowles continuously focuses on what is real and what is not. Maurice Conchis, who represents the Bourami Island and everything on it, and who is the organizer of a mind game that puts Nicholas to test, represents fiction or a kind of non-physical reality. On the other hand, Alison, the Australian girl that Nicholas realizes he loves, portrays truth and reality. These two characters are very important in Nicholas' life but they are opposites of each other in the way they interact with Nicholas. Conchis plays a game with Nicholas in which everything goes as intended and Alison is a girl which has an irregular relationship with Nicholas that does not evolve the way he wishes. First of all, when Nicholas arrives on the island of Bourami and meets Maurice Conchis, he has no idea that he is enrolling himself into a game that is done each year to a different English teacher. ...read more.


Consequently we can conclude that Conchis represents fiction. Moreover, the Greek island, which is closely linked to Conchis, is so beautiful and strange at the same time that it almost seems unreal to Nicholas. "It took my breath away when I first saw it, floating under Venus like a majestic black whale in an amethyst evening sea, and it still takes my breath away when I shut my eyes now and remember it" at this point, Fowles wants the reader to grasp that Nicholas' perception of Phraxos is almost like heaven, which is another factor that tells us that when he is on the Island, or with Conchis, he totally escapes from reality. On the other hand, when Nicholas is with Alison, he is smacked by reality and not everything goes as he wishes. One example of this is, when Urfe goes back to London, he meets Alison, but "she was mysterious, almost a new woman; one had to go back several steps, and start again" (p.576). Here the changed woman that Alison is represents a challenge, an obstacle that Nicholas has to surmount if he wants to gain her back. ...read more.


Once again Alison is a representation of reality, a world where sufferance is present. Finally, Nicholas Urfe is caught up between living according to what he thinks is reality but is not, and living and reality and consequently suffering the consequences. On the Island of Bourami with Conchis, everything seems perfect. It is almost like he lives in a none-physical world; a world of fiction where he could let his mind dream about Conchis' theories and about the beautiful countryside which seems paradisiacal. Urfe didn't have any responsibilities to act humanely whatsoever. Once he comes back to London to Alison, he is struck with reality. This is where he recognizes that he has to fight for something he wants. For the first time of his life, he has to make an extra effort to understand someone, to overcome complications that give the impression to be insurmountable. Fowles concept of fiction and reality was perhaps an interpretation of our society. Through Nicholas he might indicate that most of us live our lives in a fake world, each of us has their own Bourami Island and do not reveal our true selves to the public until we find something worth fighting for. ...read more.

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