Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Annette Wannamaker, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Amanda Allen, PhD


The power of belief is a reoccurring theme in fantasy fiction for children and young adults. Oftentimes such belief merely affects the internal make-up of children or child-likecharacters,giving them the confidence that they need to act upon the world, but at other times belief acts to magically impose an imagined reality onto a physical reality. Fairies are brought back from thedead, destinies are divined through a golden compass, phantom stags lead the way to hidden swords. This thesis explores the power of belief and its associations with the innocence of childhood as found in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Each of the novels that I explore features child characters whose belief in an imagined reality produces a profound effect on the world around her or him.