Online Study Guide: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart - Book Summary|
Downloadable / Printable Version
THE CRYSTAL CAVE: FREE CHAPTER SUMMARIES / BOOK NOTES
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
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 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.
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
All Content Copyright©TheBestNotes. All Rights Reserved.
No further distribution without written consent.
12780 Users Online | This page has been viewed 2560 times
This page was last updated on 5/9/2017 8:50:12 AM
Cite this page:
Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Crystal Cave".
. 09 May 2017