James and the Giant Peach

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"Even though all modern fantasy stories contain some sort of magical elements, some stories have a higher fantasy quotient than others" (Jacobs & Tunnel, 89). There are six basic fantasy motifs, as discussed by Jacobs & Tunnel, including magic, other worlds, good versus evil, heroism, special character types, and fantastic objects. If a story contains all six, it is classified either as a classic fairy tale, or a modern high fantasy. Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach is an example of a modern high fantasy, as it contains all six fantasy motifs discussed by Jacobs & Tunnel.

The most basic element in fantasy literature is magic. According to Jacobs & Tunnel "…each of the other five motifs is tinged by magic to some degree" (90). In the story James and the Giant Peach, magic is introduced when James is given magic crystals from the little old man. "There's more power and magic in these things," said the little old man, "than in all the rest of the world put together" (Dahl, 10). These magic crystals, after James mistakenly drops them in the garden, are responsible for the growth of the huge peach that will take James on his adventure. And also for the oversized insects that could speak, who would accompany him.

According to Jacobs & Tunnel, "In much of fantasy, a special geography or universe is established, a place wherein magic may freely operate" (90). New York City turns out to be the other world for James and his friends. Even though the city is described as we know it to be, James and his friends were accepted in grand style. At first the people were frightened by the insects; but after James introduced them, they didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, the Mayor insisted on having a parade for them. "Then the Mayor shouted, we must now have a ticker-tape parade for our wonderful visitors" (122). James and his friends led the procession down Fourth Avenue, riding in an enormous limousine. They were followed by the Mayor and other...
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