First Advisor

Jennifer Ruth

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors




Peter S. Beagle. Last unicorn -- Criticism and interpretation, Peter S. Beagle -- Greek influences, Plato -- Influence, Fantasy fiction, American -- History and criticism




Since its publication in 1968, Peter S. Beagle’s enduring fantasy novel The Last Unicorn has captured both the popular and critical imagination. While several critics have noted that Beagle seems to incorporate various aspects of Plato’s philosophy, none have dedicated a focused analysis to this specific textual feature. This thesis explores the way in which The Last Unicorn both invokes and subverts Plato’s dualistic conception of "reality" and "truth", and concludes that it does so in order to construct a vision of reality that recognizes transient, human experiences and knowledge are just as "true" as transcendent, timeless experiences and knowledge. Special attention is paid to the presence of Plato’s theory of forms, in which he explores the nature of reality and knowledge; his famous Allegory of the Cave, frequently used to illustrate the theory of forms; and his idea of the philosopher-king.


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