6 Enchanted Forests from Famous Literature

Throughout millennia, Enchanted Forests have appeared in countless tales of heroism and magic. It’s one of the oldest tropes in storytelling; a place where danger, opportunity and fantasy intertwine. 

Why are writers so captivated by the idea of the Enchanted Forest? Very often the forest illustrates the hero’s transformation; in the forest they lose their way, they are forced to face hard truths about themselves or their world. They are tested for their strength of character. Ultimately the hero emerges from the enchanted forest stronger and wiser than before, ready to continue their adventure with greater insight. 

Here are six of the most iconic enchanted forests from Western literature and mythology. 

1. The Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter

On the grounds of Hogwarts, beyond Hagrid’s hut, lies the forbidden forest…a place where no student is allowed to roam, where magical creatures reside among the dark woods. From giant spiders to centaurs, trolls, unicorns and dragons, the forbidden forest has been the setting for many of Harry and co’s adventures. And before the golden trio, it was once the playground of the marauders in their animagus forms. 

Throughout the series, the forest represents mystery, darkness and magic. However despite the dangers they face, Harry and co are saved many times by inhabitants of the forest. This forces readers to rethink their initial assumptions of ‘good vs evil’ when it comes to magical creatures. 

2. The Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie-The-Pooh

The Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie-the-Pooh is the quintessential British Woodland. It would probably win the prize for most wholesome forest. In stark contrast to the Forbidden Forest, this woodland is inviting, friendly and the epitome of childhood innocence.

These woods are a magical safe haven from the stresses of adulthood. A place where children can be children, enjoying the outdoors. It’s an ode to the natural healing properties of nature. A call to protect these precious places from the threats of industrialisation and deforestation. 

3. A Midsummer’s Nights Dream by William Shakespeare

This 16th century version of a romcom features romantic mixups, faeries, donkeys and magical pranks which all take place in the woods. In fact, a lot of the plot is driven by characters getting lost in the woods and then having chance meetings. 

The setting of the woods represents the ways in which our perceptions of reality can be altered. There is no clear path through the woods. As characters literally lose themselves among the trees, they begin to lose their grasp on reality too. 

4. Mirkwood in Lord of the Rings

The great dark forest of Mirkwood in Middle-earth was home to a variety of terrifying creatures, such as giant spiders. It was a physical manifestation of the evil corrupting power of Sauron. It also played a part in Bilbo Baggins dangerous quest to regain the Lonely Mountain in The Hobbit. 

Sauron’s defeat lifted the darkness from Mirkwood. It was renamed Eryn Lasgalen (Sindarin for wood of green leaves), similar to its old name Eryn Galen, or Greenwood.

5. The forest of Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

When we first encounter the magical world of Narnia, it’s through a wintry forest. It’s home to magical creatures such as Fawns. The woods are covered by snow and ice, frozen into eternal winter by the White Witch. 

Very much like Mirkwood, the woods here are used to illustrate the witch’s power over the world of Narnia. It is a physical manifestation of her ice cold heart. They only thaw once she is defeated, allowing spring to come to the forest, symbolising new life and new beginnings. 

6. The Dark Woods in Dante’s Inferno

In his epic poem The Divine Comedy, Dante begins his journey into the underworld by travelling through a dark, shadowy wood. The Romans believed that the entrance to Hades was a forest, so it’s there that Dante prepares for his journey into hell. 

The darkness of the woods represents sinful life on earth. The ‘right road’ refers to the virtue that ultimately leads to God. In this way, Dante uses his settings to position his poem as part of the larger medieval tradition of Christian allegorical fiction. 

Check out the Enchanted Forest soy candle, inspired by the enduring mythology and literary tradition of these magical places. Fragranced with exotic pomegranate, dark musky rose and peppercorn, this is a candle with a touch of magic.