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Magic realism in literature is the incorporation of mystical and fantastic elements into realistic fiction. It is the ability to blend something realistic with fiction usually common in American literature. This essay will analyze magical realism and how it is manifested in Chivalry by Neil Gaiman. Close reference will be derived from class lessons on what magical realism is and how it has been widely used in literature. Magic realism has been used extensively in fiction writing, with an example of Neil Gaiman’s work in chivalry. Chivalry is a story about an elderly woman and Widow Mrs. Whitaker. The story revolves around her boring life, her encounter with sir Galaad a knight of the round table. In this story, magic realism is first evident on the point where the old widow Mrs. Whitaker purchases the Holy Grail from a store. This is a point where fantasy is blended into reality.
It is rare to witness anybody purchasing a magic commodity from a local ordinary store these days. This is one of Neil Gaiman’s uses of fantasy by blending it perfectly so that it can fit the real world situation where the novel is set in. I can quote this part “Mrs. Whitaker found the Holy Grail; It was under a fur coat”. It is under this quote that we understand she didn’t expect such a treasure to be found there. This is fantasy as it is known that priceless things and jewels are hard to come by easily. Neil Gaiman’s expression of simplicity in the location of the treasure is also an expression of magic realism, an event that existed in fantasy and magical means.
Another evidence of magic realism is the point where Galaad doesn’t use force to proclaim his holy grail, but instead opts to be polite with Mrs. Whitaker in aim of convincing her to let go off the Holy Grail. His first encounter with Mrs. Whitaker is evident here “Mrs. Whitaker answered the door. It was a young man with shoulder-length hair so fair it was almost white, wearing gleaming silver armor, with a white fur coat.” Neil Gaiman uses Magic realism on the character sir Galaad when he is shown to shower Mrs. Whitaker with gifts in exchange for the Holy Grail, a procedure rarely followed under such terms. Most knights would have been expected to use force in gaining acquisition of the Holy Grail. The quote that’s shows evidence of these gifts is “Mrs. Whitaker put the ruby fruit down on her kitchen table. She looked at the philosopher’s stone, and the egg of the phoenix, and the apple of life.” All these gifts were given to her, and it is ironical that sir Galaad went through the hustle to find them in exchange for the Holy Grail, whereas he had the power to snatch it from her immediately.
Neil Gaiman expressed magic realism perfectly in that instance. Another evidence of magic realism in chivalry is the point where Mrs. Whiteman is showered with gifts by sir Galaad, gifts worth a fortune, but she despises those claiming simpler gifts that will console her from her boredom and loneliness. She prefers if sir Galaad helps her pick slugs out of the garden and enjoy a glass of lemonade together. This is also Magic realism in literature as the individuals in the current society would rather take the gifts and giveaway the Holy Grail. The character Mrs. Whitaker is expressed as living a fantastical life extremely different by how reality expects her to live. That’s magic realism as she does the unexpected and lives different from the normal lives of others, and acts unimaginably, way out of reality.
The book makes it an example of magic realism because Neil Gaiman blends magic with reality, by mixing them together to compose a perfect piece of literature. The short story of chivalry expresses how magic can be expressed in literature to bring out certain concepts of the human being. The short story is based on realism considering that the character, Mrs. Whitaker is confined to her life of boredom, a conservative who likes to live a normal day. Realism is expressed I the fact that although this is her life, which might be boring and lacking fun, she is comfortable with it and doesn’t complain about it. This is evident that the story is based on realism. Fantasy elements that disrupt realism in chivalry are the fact that sir Galaad showered Mrs. Whitaker with precious gifts, ones which she didn’t value. She however valued her normal life and maybe sharing lemonade with the knight. Sir Galaad also treated her like a queen, something Mrs. Whitaker doesn’t value or show appreciation for. She however prefers to be treated normally and live a normal and usual life. These fantasy elements are therefore the disruption to realism as expressed by Neil Gaiman in chivalry.
Neil Gaiman uses this elements to show the existence of a different type of individuals in our society, those who are not driven by greed for desires. He expresses these elements perfectly in chivalry. He is trying to argue in reference to real life situations, that value for life is better than rush for material possessions and desires. He also tries to argue that violence is not a solution to everything, and that human beings should all be respected despite their position or social influence. He shows kindness in his novel and also expresses the need to be independent as a solution to living a simple life. Mrs. Whitaker is a perfect mirror to his thoughts as she represents the minority in the society, those who believe in life on a different perspective other than the general known perspective.
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