A Wizard of Earthsea | Study Guide

Ursula K. Le Guin

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A Wizard of Earthsea | Symbols



Comas in A Wizard of Earthsea symbolize Ged's failure to recognize the limits of his power. The first time he falls into a coma is when he gathers a fog to protect Ten Alders from intruders. This major use of power overcomes the balance in his untrained body, rendering him unconscious. Ogion is able to heal him through his superior wizardry. The second time Ged falls into a coma happens after he looses the shadow. This rash use of forbidden power is his most dangerous, and the most difficult to recover from. Ged falls into a coma after chasing Ioeth too far into the afterlife, trying to save him from dying. The otak brings him back by licking his face, reminding him of his connection to the world.


Shadows appear throughout the novel and are a constant representation of the interdependency of light and dark. In the Taoist tradition, yin and yang are dark and light, two interdependent opposites that naturally coexist. Le Guin continually reminds the reader that in order to have shadows, there must be both light and dark. As the Master Hand says to Ged, "to light a candle is to cast a shadow." What he means is that even if Ged's aim is to use his power for good, using power at all disrupts the balance, which will naturally cast a shadow. Shadows are the result of bringing light into darkness. Every person and every act casts a shadow, and Ged has to accept his disassociated shadow self in order to become a whole person.

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