The Magus by John Fowles - short summary

Categories: Novel

In The Magus, A fantastic novel written by John Fowles, Nicholas Urfe struggles in between living in a world of fiction and discovering the tough lessons of reality. He is handled a Journey that will lead him to understand why it is best to reside in a world with flaws instead of constantly rejecting it. Throughout the book, Fowles continuously focuses on what is real and what is not. Maurice Conchis, who represents the Bourami Island and whatever on it, and who is the organizer of a mind video game that puts Nicholas to check, represents fiction or a type of non-physical reality.

On the other hand, Alison, the Australian lady that Nicholas understands he loves, portrays truth and truth. These two characters are extremely essential in Nicholas' life but they are opposites of each other in the way they communicate with Nicholas. Conchis plays a video game with Nicholas in which whatever goes as intended and Alison is a woman which has an irregular relationship with Nicholas that does not evolve the way he wishes.

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First of all, when Nicholas arrives on the island of Bourami and satisfies Maurice Conchis, he has no concept that he is enrolling himself into a game that is done each year to a various English instructor. He totally thinks whatever about this man who appears to be an expert, a mystical master of all philosophical questions. When Nicholas is in Phraxos, it is nearly like he remains in a dream; his conferences with Conchis leave him in a sort of satisfying daze.

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He is never injured by anything, he likes listening and getting lost in the stories he is told by Conchis. As Maurice chats with Urfe, he senses, "A strong sensation continued, when I swung my feet off the ground and lay back, that something was attempting to slip between me and truth" (p. 105).

Here we perceive that Nicholas is starting to fall in the god video game and that his mind is slowly wandering away from reality. The post "An Allegory of Self-Realization" by Barry N. Olshen states at one point that "The journey from London to Phraxos and back to London, then, is at once a physical truth and a metaphor for a non-physical truth". Here we comprehend that when Nicholas returns to Phraxos, which is considerably connected with Conchis, it is as if he remained in a non-physical world, a paradise for the mind where he generally never experiences meaningful troubles.

Consequently we can conclude that Conchis represents fiction. Moreover, the Greek island, which is closely linked to Conchis, is so beautiful and strange at the same time that it almost seems unreal to Nicholas. "It took my breath away when I first saw it, floating under Venus like a majestic black whale in an amethyst evening sea, and it still takes my breath away when I shut my eyes now and remember it" at this point, Fowles wants the reader to grasp that Nicholas' perception of Phraxos is almost like heaven, which is another factor that tells us that when he is on the Island, or with Conchis, he totally escapes from reality.

On the other hand, when Nicholas is with Alison, he is smacked by reality and not everything goes as he wishes. One example of this is, when Urfe goes back to London, he meets Alison, but "she was mysterious, almost a new woman; one had to go back several steps, and start again" (p.576). Here the changed woman that Alison is represents a challenge, an obstacle that Nicholas has to surmount if he wants to gain her back. Obstacles are part of one's everyday life and are part of reality; therefore Alison's personage is a good example of realism. Moreover, when Nicholas meets Alison for the first time, they are both in London.

His last encounter with her at the end of the book is also in London. Since we can relate to Alison with London, we can consider that London also represents reality for Nicholas in a certain way. After his last meeting with Mrs. Lily de Seitas, he drives around London waiting to congregate with Alison. "scorching through sleeping towns, always turning back in the small hours and driving exhausted into London in the dawn" here Fowles portrays Nicholas' driving almost as he was waiting for something, torturing his mind, thinking about Alison.

In Bourami with Conchis, Urfe almost never thinks of Alison and has almost no worries. Back in London he has to face reality and to recognize that one cannot have everything he wishes for according to his desires. The Englishman wishes to talk to his loved one but has to wait for her, not knowing whether she loves him or not. Once again Alison is a representation of reality, a world where sufferance is present.

Finally, Nicholas Urfe is caught up between living according to what he thinks is reality but is not, and living and reality and consequently suffering the consequences. On the Island of Bourami with Conchis, everything seems perfect. It is almost like he lives in a none-physical world; a world of fiction where he could let his mind dream about Conchis' theories and about the beautiful countryside which seems paradisiacal. Urfe didn't have any responsibilities to act humanely whatsoever. Once he comes back to London to Alison, he is struck with reality.

This is where he recognizes that he has to fight for something he wants. For the first time of his life, he has to make an extra effort to understand someone, to overcome complications that give the impression to be insurmountable. Fowles concept of fiction and reality was perhaps an interpretation of our society. Through Nicholas he might indicate that most of us live our lives in a fake world, each of us has their own Bourami Island and do not reveal our true selves to the public until we find something worth fighting for.

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The Magus by John Fowles - short summary. (2017, Oct 19). Retrieved from

The Magus by John Fowles - short summary
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