Terry Pratchett. By Lindsay Jackson Mod 7/8. Map of Discworld. 5 interesting Facts. Terry Pratchett writes Discworld, an almost 39 book series that he has been writing since 1983 He was knighted in 2009 for services to literature by the British Empire.
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By Lindsay Jackson
How does Terry Pratchett make Discworld seem like real life while still being fantasy?
Terry Pratchett grew up on a farm, and farms require lots of work to keep running. Usually, the kids of the farmer have to help out with the chores, which are a lot of responsibility. This is why many characters in his books have a lot of responsibilities to take care of them themselves, without help from others. In I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany has to kill the cunning man largely by her own wit. In Wintersmith, she has to kill the Wintersmith by herself, too. Tiffany is also very young when she has these responsibilities - around our age. I’m sure that you can’t imagine yourself taking on a threat to the safety of the world by yourself (not that saving the world compares to farm chores...) Terry Pratchett was also an only child, which might have contributed to this. Much of the books I read (I Shall Wear Midnight and Wintersmith took place in a rural setting. Even the city, Ankh-Morpork, was described as a “wonderful town“, even though it is a city, (and not that wonderful) in I Shall Wear Midnight. Also in I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany meets her future self, who forgets a lot. This could be a reference to Terry Pratchett’s Alzheimer's, even though his cognitive ability is not much affected yet. Although Death appears in nearly all of his novels, it is not a connection to Alzheimer’s because it has been appearing in novels since 1987, and he was only recently diagnosed.
Terry Pratchett also incorporates aspects of his life into his books in smaller ways. In Discworld, there is a school for wizards called the Unseen University. The librarian there is an orangutan, and Terry Pratchett is a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation. He lives on the English chalk country, which includes the White Cliffs of Dover, and Tiffany lives on the Chalk hills in Discworld on a farm. Tiffany’s family was also based on Terry Pratchett’s. Both Tiffany and Pratchett have read a dictionary straight through and make cheese.
For this portion of the presentation, I’ll be focusing on I Shall Wear Midnight. Terry Pratchett doesn’t use very large chunks of imagery except to introduce a new setting. Throughout the book, he’ll put in imagery to describe the actions of a person, like “Mr. Carpetlayer was a very happy man as he twirled and hopped, very nearly turned a cartwheel…”. He barely describes how any of the humans look, and actually describes how the Feegles look more often (picture Irish smurfs ). He doesn’t develop the main character, Tiffany, as much as he develops Letitia, Roland, and the Duchess, who are more minor characters.
The book is mostly one big rising action, with a small climax, and little/ no falling action. This takes away from the boringness of beginnings. For most of the book, the setting is the Chalk, but Tiffany makes small trips to Ankh-Morpork and Letitia’s house. Terry Pratchett uses lots of verisimilitude, but still leaves room for fantasy. For example, “ Not many witches got a whole geological outcrop to themselves, even if this one was mostly covered in grass, and the grass was mostly covered in sheep.” But, in this same setting,(this quote is talking about a hare) “ This one burst into flames. She blazed for a moment and then, entirely unharmed, sped away in a blur…the turf isn’t scorched.” The tone is serious, yet humorous (this is a quality in many of his books ). He uses all types of sentences, but mostly compound- complex or just complex. Some themes are teamwork, independence, and responsibility. He uses little figurative language, although he uses metaphors and similes occasionally.
The book opens with a large snowstorm. Tiffany is doing everything she can to stop it. This is a flash forward. Presently, Tiffany is studying witchcraft with Miss Treason, a 113 year old witch who takes Tiffany to see a dance that brings the Winter, however, Tiffany breaks Miss Terason’s most important rule which is to not join in the dance. Because she does, the Wintersmith(who is the personification of Winter), is in love with her and will stop at nothing to find her. Miss Treason dies, and Tiffany is taken to Nanny Ogg’s house. Nanny is also a witch. When she gets there, she is told that not only is the Wintersmith after her, but she is turning into the personification of summer. The Wintersmith soon finds her, but she flies back to the Chalk before he can get too close to her. The Feeglesare with her through all of this, although not really doing much. Now, though, they play a bigger role. Granny Weather wax, another witch, tells them to find a hero to go into the underworld and rescue the real personification of Summer. The hero they find is Roland, Tiffany’s long time friend and future Baron of the Chalk. When Tiffany gets back to the Chalk, snow is everywhere and she finds herself in a ice castle where the Wintersmith wants her to stay forever. She saves herself (and most of the world) by kissing him, which makes him kind of die. Then, Roland and the Feegles arrive with the Summer Lady and everything is good again.
Tiffany has now become the witch of the Chalk, which means that she takes care of the residents and watches over them. She is warned of a danger by the female chief of the Feegles, Jeannie. Tiffany helps the daughter of an alcoholic and violent man by letting her stay with the Feegles. This turns out to be a mistake later. She goes to help the sick Baron, who dies soon after she arrives, which makes people not want to trust her. What makes his death even more suspicious was that he gave Tiffany a lot of money right before he died (Tiffany didn’t do anything to him though). The next day, Tiffany goes to Ankh-Morporkto tell Roland that his father died. On the way she crashes, and sees a ghost who is dressed in all black, with no eyes, and smells really really bad. He doesn’t do anything but threaten her, and she flies the rest of the way to Ankh-Morpork.
The Feegles find Roland, who is with his fiancée and almost mother-in-law. His mother-in-law, the Duchess, is very rude and her daughter Letitia is quiet and cries a lot. The Duchess calls the police on Tiffany and a city witch, Mrs. Proust. They get locked up just to make the Duchess happy, but are soon released. Suddenly, Tiffany is taken to seen Eskarina Smith, the only female wizard. She tells her that the ghost she saw was the Cunning Man, a master witch killer who is out to get Tiffany. He bursts in as she is explaining, and Tiffany flies back to the Chalk, where she is imprisoned under suspicion that she killed the cook. She escapes and finds Letitia, who is really a witch (although she didn’t know before). Soon, the Cunning man finds Tiffany again. This time, she has to kill him. She starts a huge bonfire, (as he is afraid of fire), with the help of her friend Preston and the Feegles, who have been with her through the whole story, and kills the Cunning Man. The next day, Letitia and Roland get married and Tiffany uses the money given to her by the Baron to open a school in the Chalk, where Preston will teach. Tiffany also meets her future self.
Discworld!( see the little disc at the top? That’s the actual discworld. It sits on the backs of 4 elephants which are on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin, who swims through space)
Terry Pratchett is an extremely successful fantasy author who writes the almost 39 book Discworld series. He uses humor and fantasy creatures to deal with serious, everyday issues. He also incorporates his own life (his Alzheimer’s and his childhood life on a farm ) into his books. Lots of imagery and sensory details are incorporated in his books, while little figurative language and character development for the main characters is used. And to answer my thesis question, since Terry Pratchett incorporates real situations into fantasy settings and draws inspiration from his life and real places and people, he can pull off making Discworld seem like real life, but still being fantasy.