The princess Rosamond falls into hideous rages at the smallest provocation. The shepherd girl Agnes adores no one so much as herself. This is the story of two very different girls with the same wise guide who intervenes to rescue them from themselves. Will the Wise Woman's love and patience suffice to win the day ... or will the girls be left to pursue their hopeless paths, both sinned against and sinning?
Both Rosamond's fits of rage and Agnes' complacent self-worship are shown as the soul-disfiguring sins that they are. Also, the parents who failed to properly bring up their daughters are blamed for their fault.
MacDonald is known for his "wise women", who are different in his different stories but always a type of Christ; one of these is a character in this novel. The story is very spiritual--allegorical, in fact--and rich with symbols of the Christian life.
Editor's Note: The girls' 'redemption' is contingent on their obeying the Wise Woman, not the power of the Wise Woman herself, which, removed from its allegorical trappings, is not biblical.
A royal edict mentions beheading. One of the girls is nipped and thrown to the ground by a sheepdog.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Crude or Profane Language or Content
This is a moral fable, yes, but it's also a fascinating and well-written story. MacDonald is a master of his art. While he was not a theologian and his works should be read carefully, this story does contain beautiful truths.