A “coming of age novel” is a novel in which a character develops mentally/.
Some examples of “coming of age” novels are Great Expectations and Huckleberry Fin. But The Magus, a novel written by John Fowels, is a prime example of a “coming of age novel.” Throughout The Magus the main character, Nicholas Urfe, grows and develops mentally and emotionally in many ways.
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Professionally Nicholas is a teacher on the island of Phraxos, which is somewhat ironic to me because in thought, he is more of a student learning and growing in many ways. In my opinion, he is still finding himself throughout the novel. He is always having an identity crisis. First he thinks he is gay, then he thinks he is a womanizer, and he even thinks he is a transvestite at one point. The teachers in the book are definitely Conchis and Alison. They use different methodologies to teach Nicholas the lessons he needs to learn. In retrospect, Conchis teaches Nicholas about limitations and his ego, and Alison teaches him about relationships and love. For example, the letter Alison writes to Nicholas on page 401 and 402 shows a little bit of what their relationship is like. Conchis tells Nick stories about himself and also reenacts and reproduces stories with live actors, to teach Nicholas lessons. .
Different lessons are taught throughout the novel. They are lessons to be taught to Nicholas. First, has to learn what love is. He is very skilled with relationships and makes no commitments with women. He manipulates women and is a very cold person when it comes to relationships with women. He stays emotionally detached in his relationships and really does not know what love is. For example, on page thirty- seven he says, ” I remember one day when we were standing in one of the rooms at the Tate. Allison was leaning slightly against me, holding my hand, looking in her childish sweet-sucking way at a Renoir. I suddenly had a feeling that we were one body, one person, even there; that if she disappeared it would have been as if I had lost half of myself.