First, Laura is critiquing my blog today. She always has some really great info and I look forward to what I can do to make my blog better. I imagine some changes will be taking place - jump over here and see what she has to say.
Take a minute and think about some nursery rhymes - Goldilocks, Little Red Ridinghood, Hansel and Gretel. Every single one of them go into a forest, and every single one of them come out changed beyond the ability to reconcile. This isn't on accident.
Harry Potter goes to the forest how many times? (Cassie actually probably knows). Each time he enters, he learns something that will change the way he perceives his world.
Frodo goes into the forest and will never be able to be the same again.
Tangled presents the forest in two ways - Rapunzel leaves her tower into the forest and will never be the same and so does Flynn Rider when he goes into the forest and discovers the tower.
When Luke Skywalker goes into the forest while training with Yoda, he has a realization that he only begins to understand.
Think about the recent Batman trilogy. When does Bruce Wayne really gain focus on something - anything? When he starts his training in a forest.
But a forest doesn't always have to be a forest - sometimes it is a desert (Ironman), a cave (Goonies), a different planet (Avatar) or even a ball (Cinderella). It is often depicted as a place that people shouldn't go into (Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, 1984, Variant, Matched, Uglies) because it is unknown, unpredictable and favorite element of dystopias.
In its very basest form, the forest is a symbol of the unconscious, what our character learns when placed in a primitive or unknown situation. The education that is received allows our character to both understand his/her purpose better and to understand themselves better. The character re-prioritizes, sees the world in a different life and often understands what the quest is in spite of what people tell them it is.
I could go on and on about forests (my poor students get variations of this lecture for a whole school year!).
What is your favorite forest in literature? Can you think of a time when a character experiences the change of a forest but enters a different setting?