How is the structure of "Once Upon a Time" similar to that of a fairy tale?
You are referring to the narrative structure of the story. In this instance, one must look at the sequence of events to see whether it is similar to that of a fairy tale. The elements of such a structure are setting, plot, and theme. A narrative plot is further divided into the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and the denouement or resolution.
In the exposition, the characters are introduced and the setting is provided. A normal fairy tale does not provide a specific time frame and begins with 'Once upon a time.' This is the first obvious similarity between our story and a fairy tale. Although the introduction is not used in the text of the story itself, it is clear in the title, which uses exactly the same terminology.
Secondly, the fairy tale provides insight into the characters' situation - i.e. where they live, their relationships and what they do. The story commences with the following words:
In a house, in a suburb, in a city, there were a man and his wife who loved...
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