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Online Study Guide: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart - Book Summary

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THE CRYSTAL CAVE: FREE CHAPTER SUMMARIES / BOOK NOTES

CONFLICT

Protagonist


The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. He or she must usually overcome some opposing force. This is Merlin who, as the narrator, re-tells the story of his mission to bring about the conception of Arthur. We are shown his life from a child of six to the moment when he is able to bring Uther and Ygraine together as the parents of the Great Future King Arthur. He is a character who is constantly in motion. He learns as much as he can and willingly places himself in the hands of the god who, he comes to believe, is the only God there is. He experiences many emotions throughout the novel when he comes in contact with those characters that impact on his mission. However, he discovers that these emotions are not his to enjoy for long as the god always sends him on the next step of the path which will lead to Arthur.

Antagonist

The antagonist of a story is the force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. The antagonist does not always have to be a single character or even a character at all. In this story, the antagonist is Merlinís god or God. Merlin is always in conflict with the godís needs and even though he eventually acquiesces to the gods demands, he pays a severe price every time. For example, the god will not allow him to have a relationship with a woman for fear that his mission will be hampered. He loses many people he loves as well, such as Galapas and Cadal, because he is constantly a target. The god is strict and unbending and many times he places Merlin in situations of great danger. Nonetheless, he must be satisfied, no matter the cost.

Climax

The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax in this story does not occur until the end when Merlin kills Brithael so that Uther will not be discovered in Ygraineís bed. Although it nearly costs Merlin his own life, it allows enough time for the godís demand to be fulfilled: the conception of Arthur.

Outcome

In the end, Merlin is blamed by the Uther for the deaths of the four men at Tintagel, even though it was Uther who demanded that Merlin bring him Ygraine. He then repudiates Merlin, forbids anyone to help him with his wounds and leaves him standing on the Cornish shore. He also declares that he will never acknowledge the baby he conceived with Ygraine. Merlin then climbs on his horse and rides away. The ending, however, is hopeful, because Arthur has been conceived as symbolized by the rising sun at the end.


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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Crystal Cave". TheBestNotes.com. . 09 May 2017
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