the crystal cave

If the name Merlin were spoken, many would immediately connect the name to
the legendary magician that served King Arthur. Many variations of this
legendary magician have been passed down through the ages, but only one makes
the reader connect with Merlin as a man and not just a magician. In the book The
Crystal Cave Mary Stewart makes the reader see that Merlin is not just a
magician, he is first and foremost a man. Throughout the book the author sucks
the reader in to the life of this man, and using imagery and characterization
makes him feel that he is actually there watching the life of Merlin unravel.

From the very first page of The Crystal Cave the reader is transported into
the book with the use of imagery; Mary Stewart almost forces him to connect with
the characters and the surroundings of this book. “ With the coming of the
dusk the rain stopped, but a mist had risen, creeping knee-high through the
trees so that they stood like ghosts, and the grazing horse floated like a swan.”(The
Crystal Cave pg. 2) Mary Stewart describes this scene so well that the reader
can actually see the mist rising up the trees and into the forest. When
describing the fight scenes where Ambrosius, Merlin’s father, is trying to
gain the title of High King, she uses enough detail to get the point across,
without making the scene gory and bloody as so many things are in today’s
world. “Everywhere men were fighting in small groups, or even singly and hand
to hand. The noise, the clash and shouting, even the smell of sweat and blood
mingled…(Crystal Cave pg.373.) The reader can almost smell the sweat and blood
mingling on the battlefield, like being there without the danger. In this novel
Stewart also mixes together imagery and characterization when she is showing the
reader what Merlin sees in the crystal cave when he first learns he has the “sight”.
This is the beginning of the author’s trial to get the reader inside the brain
of Merlin as he begins to use his power. “ Though the place was cold, the men
worked naked save for loincloths, and the sweat ran over their backs as they
hacked over the rock-face, steady ceaseless tapping blows that’s made no
noise, but you could see the muscles clench and jar under the torch lit sweat.”(Crystal
Cave pg 66) The reader is put inside of Merlin’s brain, seeing what he sees,
what he thinks, and how he responds to the reaction of others toward him.

Throughout this novel Mary Stewart helps the reader connect with Merlin by
characterization. She presents his actions, words, thoughts, and feelings as a
way for the reader to see what is really going on behind the mask of this
legendary magician. The visions that Merlin has are so clearly represented to
the reader that he is inside Merlin’s head as they are going on.” The bull
whirled, and charged again. The man waited without moving, his feet planted
slightly apart, his posture casual, almost disdainful. As the bull reached him
he seemed to sway aside, lightly, like a dancer. The bull went by him so close
that I saw a horn spear the swirling cloak…(Crystal Cave pg.142) The reader
begins to see the true power Merlin has, not that as a spell caster, but that of
a prophet. Although Merlin has power, he is not arrogant, he lives day to day as
a man. He thinks not himself better than most men, but equal. In the instance of
his father Ambrious or his uncle Uther, Merlin treats them with respect telling
them that whenever they needed him he would be there. In the light of his father’s
death Merlin makes a vow to himself and others,” I will deck his grave with
nothing less then the light itself.”(Crystal Cave pg. 442) The reader is shown
here that Merlin had great respect for his father, and even though it was deemed
impossible by others he made his vow become a reality. The way other reacted
toward Merlin and his power is a big part of this story, throughout this novel
the reader can see the changes of attitude toward Merlin as he grows. The young
Merlin was thought of as a “bastard” because he had no father. “. Keep
your bastard out of my sight! Now that your brother’s home, we’ll find a man
that will take the pair of you from under my feet.”(Crystal Cave pg.7)