Mirror of the mind and mirror of the world
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In comparing the motifs, narrative structures and details within two influential texts, The Journey to the West and The Faerie Queene, compelling similarities become apparent, particularly concerning the problem of duplicity, anxiety over the nature of human perception, and solutions of resorting to magical mirrors (i.e. Merlin’s Looking Glass and Imp-reflecting Mirror) as an attempt to distinguish truth and falsehood. Using the symbol of the mirror as a guiding “thread,” this thesis will examine the cultural contexts of these two books: philosophy, literary and painting theory prevalent in both China and England at the end of the sixteenth century when the two works were published. By elaborating on such key issues imminent in these two literary pieces, the thesis also constitutes an attempt to suggest the more profound differences hidden in both works and cultures, despite their surface resemblances.