This thesis is a development of the theories presented by Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Bruno Bettelheim concerning archetypes, the anima/animus concept, the Hero Cycle, and identity development through fairy tales. I argue that there are vital rites of passage missing in Anglo-Saxon culture, and while bibliotherapy cannot replace them, it can help adolescents synthesize their experiences. The theories of Jung, Campbell, and Bettelheim demonstrate this concept by defining segments of the story and how they apply to the reader. Because of the applicability, readers, despite their age, can use the examples in the book to help reconcile their own experiences and understand life as it relates to them. The works I examine include J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, and David Eddings' Belgariad. Though it is impossible to test the effects of reading such works on readers, the possibility of those effects exists. Bettelheim's work, The Uses of Enchantment, discusses similar themes and he provides scientific support through his use of anecdotal evidence. Following his example, I have tried to include evidence from my own life that exemplifies the effect reading epic fantasy has had on me.

The aspects of epic fantasy in relation to going through adolescence I examine include the concept of responsibility and its relation to progress and maturity; gaining a social identity; and reconciling oneself to the dark side within and without, in society. These aspects are found within the superstructure of the Hero Cycle and the actions and motivations of the characters—archetypes—within the cycle. They are also present in real life and necessary concepts to understand to be accepted into society as a mature contributor.



College and Department

Humanities; English



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Fantasy Literature, adolescent literature, epic fantasy, epic literature, Harry Potter, Alvin Maker, Belgarion, Ged, Frodo, David Eddings, J.K. Rowling, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, J.R.R. Tolkien, adolescent development, bibliotherapy