First appearing in Harper’s Young People as a serial, the piece focuses on the extraordinary tale of a young boy and a girl who have been brought up in a secluded and controlled environment by a wicked witch, incognizant of the world outside of their custom tailored settings. Enriched with magic, fantasy, romance, and allegory, The Day Boy and the Night Girl is a great instance of MacDonald’s excellent use of metaphors to express a deeper meaning to a seemingly simple fairy tale. The novel begins with the introduction of Watho, a wicked witch who has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. In her pursuit of knowledge, she decides to conduct her very own experiment, where she seeks to shape the characters of two infants by controlling their environment with utmost caution. In order to carry out such an experiment, she deviously accommodates two expectant mothers in her castle, lodging one of the women in a sunlit, airy room, while placing the other in a dark, confined space. Accordingly, Photogen is born in light surroundings, whereas Nycteris is born in the darkness. Subsequently, Watho begins her experiment as she raises the young boy in daylight, oblivious to the existence of night, while also allowing him to roam free and explore his surroundings. In contrast, Watho raises the young girl in darkness, unaware of the day’s brightness, and keeps her secluded in her small quarters. However, following a series of events, the two eventually meet, as they are both exposed to an unfamiliar scene that stirs up many emotions. Complementing each other’s deficiencies, Photogen and Nycteris effectively endorse the belief that two opposites attract, as they overcome their differences with the help of their growing mutual support and understanding. Consequently, the pair must stand by each other to overcome their cruel captor, while at the same time learn to embrace the unknown and unexpected. Featuring many absorbing elements including an intriguing plot, contrasting characters, vibrant imagery, and deep allegory, the story is sure to fascinate with its evocative details that successfully justify its author’s renowned literary reputation. Furthermore, MacDonald successfully portrays the notion of light and dark, while also allowing the audience to gather their thoughts and grasp the hidden meaning implied within its pages, which is sure to have a profound effect.
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