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Discuss how the form of the fairy tale/folk tale serves as the predecessor for the...

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rx2000 | eNoter

Posted June 22, 2010 at 5:42 AM via web

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Discuss how the form of the fairy tale/folk tale serves as the predecessor for the short story.

Are there any suggestions for my essay?

A fairy tale or a folklore generally is a fantasy driven set of events that describes various characters out of the realms of reality like witches, goblins etc. Very little relation exists between reality and these fantasy stories and most depictions are not derived from real people or events either. Descriptions and details in a fairy tale are less descriptive and more figurative like a ball gown made in heaven with stars and the moon, etc. characters are not described, but are rather defined by the various events that take place, and by their actions. Most fairy tales have a happy ending that depicts the hero and heroine as the beacon of light for others, while the dark forces are eliminated. In this context, fairy tales may not seem to have a deeper connection to short stories than just brevity. However, fairy tales and short stories have at least three different characteristics that make them similar and fairy tales as predecessor to short stories. These characteristics also include brevity of the story line in both short stories as well as fairy tales.

 

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted June 22, 2010 at 7:12 AM (Answer #1)

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The form of the fairy tale has several characteristics that may be considered predecessors of the short story. First, while the characters in fairy tales don't need developing because good conquers evil and things go on "happily ever after," they do need to go through a transformation through which the problem of the tale is resolved: Snow White becomes a princess, the Little Mermaid sacrifices herself, etc. Short stories take this idea of transformation in a different direction and require character development of some sort, often in the form of an epiphany as with Tolstoy's short stories, but perhaps in the form of the revelation of a dark secret as in Poe's short stories.

Second, both plots have to be driven by solving some problem. In fairy tales, the problems are often situational (e.g., how to get to the ball), but in short stories they may range from situational to psychological problems. In each, there must be a resolution of the problem and its conflict. Third, the setting is integral to both forms of story. In fairy tales, the setting must be some unspecified time and place (e.g., "Somewhere long, long ago...," "Once upon a time is a strange land..."). On the other hand, but equally importantly, the setting of the short story is critical to the story and another setting may make the story meaningless; think, for example, of Faulkner's short stories.

I take it that your pasted in writing sample is the Introduction to an academic essay. If so, you have a splendid start at an essay. Your Introduction identifies the topic and sets it in a broader academic field. You give excellent background information. and you write with excellent academic style. I'd make two suggestions. (1) Remove the last sentence as it is redundant and obscures your Thesis, which I take to be the sentence before the last. (2) Introductions are normally 5 -7 percent of your essay total. How long will your essay be? 2000 words? With the ultimate length in mind, is this Introduction too long? If so, move an appropriate amount of material to a second paragraph.

If, on the other hand, this is your whole written answer to a topic, I still think you have done well and that you should remove the redundant last sentence. Also, a word is omitted here (perhaps "mark"?): "make them similar and mark fairy tales as predecessor to short stories." Also, do you mean to say "folklore tale" in your first line?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 22, 2010 at 7:05 AM (Answer #2)

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You do have three valid points of comparison between the classic fairy/folk tale and the short story: characters, description, and plot.  Unfortunately, the reader has to work very hard to find them.  You seem to be showing more contrast than comparison, which is fine; it's just that you have nothing at the beginning of your essay which makes that point.  The good news is, this problem can be easily fixed with a little organization and a few transitions.  I won't rewrite your essay; however, I will offer a few helpful (I hope) suggestions.

First, make sure you have a clear statement of purpose.  Something like "Though fairy tales and short stories are similar, the two have different types of characters, descriptions, and plot lines."  Forgive me if I've misunderstood your position, but write a purpose statement which clearly presents your point of view and your main points of comparison and/or contrast.

Second, use effective transitions to remind us of the points you'll be discussing.  For example, "One point of comparison is..." or "The first thing they have in common is...."  These kinds of phrases will prepare your readers for the point you'll be making.

Third, make your specific details as interesting as possible in order to sway your readers to your point.  You've got several really interesting details (I especially like the ball gown reference), but they're kind of buried.  Give them the attention they deserve by being even more specific (whose gown in what story?), adding a particular title or character or storyline and by avoiding the use of "etc." which is a bit distracting.

Finally, end with a short review of your position (similar to statement of purpose) and perhaps something which the audience will remember--like a happily ever after reference, or some other fun and memorable line.

Don't be discouraged; almost every good writer does more than one draft before submitting it.  You'll get better with every draft you do, and you do have some great points of contrast to work with here.  Thanks for sharing! 

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ktmagalia | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted June 22, 2010 at 6:37 AM (Answer #3)

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You begin your response defining "fantasy" and "folklore" but leave bringing in reference to "short story" until the end of the paragraph. For clarity, I would suggest bringing in the subject of the question in your opening. Look at your prompt question, and reword the question as an opening statement.

Using examples, such as "like a ball gown made in heaven" add imagery and intrigue to your writing.  How about being even more detailed and specific.  For example, you mention "witches" and "goblins" in a general sense. Can you allude to MacBeth's witches, or the Princess and the Goblin? Instead of a general allusion to a ball gown, be specific with Cinderella's or something more specific. The more specific your example, the stronger your argument.

At the end, you write

However, fairy tales and short stories have at least three different characteristics that make them similar and fairy tales as predecessor to short stories

Did you mean to write "fairy tales and FOLK tales" instead? If so, it would also make more sense to change the ending to "...making them similar and obvious predecessors to short stories."

I'm assuming that this will be the springboard for the rest of your response? If you are limited to just this one paragraph as a response, please note that the three different characteristics are not clear to the reader. And the last sentence, idea, seems to be a last minute addition.  Work in this thought early in your opening.

One similarity that you may want to consider are the elements of plot.  Setting, rising action, climax, falling action, the resolution, aren't all of these elements present in fairy tales and folk tales? Just a thought.

A little tip, avoid using "etc" in your writing.  If something needs to be added, then add it, if it isn't important and can be substituted with "etc' then it wasn't important to begin with. Don't use it.

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