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The Conventions of Traditional Fairytales

Notes and information on conventional literary and thematic features of traditional fairytales. To be used as part of an analysis of Angela Carter's book, 'The Bloody Chamber'.
by

John Anderson

on 26 September 2013

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Transcript of The Conventions of Traditional Fairytales

The Conventions of Traditional Fairy Tales
1. Initial situation
2. Introduction of a complication/problem/task
3. Hero(ine) attempts to address the complication/problem/task
4. Successful resolution
1.Formulaic expressions. These are used mostly at the very beginning and very end of a tale. The best known lines in English-language fairy tale formulae are, of course, "once upon a time" and “happily ever after."

2.Objects and characters are named, but not described in any detail. One-word adjectives are common ("golden apples," "brave youth," "dark forest,")

3.Fairy tales typically have some representation of Magic (creatures, objects, events). Magical or supernatural occurrences are unremarkable, that is, the hero(ine) does not react any differently to such occurrences from how s/he would react to everyday events.
1.Fairy-tale heroines and heroes are human and mortal. They meet supernatural or magical creatures, and use magical objects, but the hero(in)es themselves do not have innate supernatural or magical powers, but are often intelligent or quick witted despite being of a ‘common’ background.

2.Characters are nameless or have simple, generic names. Human characters are often referred to in terms of their profession, social position, or familial relation to other characters: prince, princess, king, queen, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, youth, old man, old woman, merchant, peasant, priest, blacksmith, etc.

3.Animals or other anthropomorphic characters usually do not have names

4.Characters' inner lives (emotions, psychology) are unimportant.

5.Characters' life histories before and after the tale are unimportant.

6.Every character in the tale has a specific function or functions, and is present in the tale only to perform that function
Narrative Structure
Characterisation
Language and Style
Full transcript