A Comparison Between Five Children and It and the Canary Prince

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Aninda Ariestiana
180410100192

A Comparison Between Five Children and It and The Canary Prince.

Five Children and It is a children novel by Edith Nesbit. Although it features Psammead, a sand-fairy, it does not fall under fairy tale genre because of the missing key elements of fairy tale. In my essay below, I will try to explain that Five Children and It is not a fairy tale despite the fairy appearance in the story and the magical nature that fairies often associated with and I will compare it to The Canary Prince that has no fairies presence but can certainly be categorized as a fairy tale. Firstly I will explain the topic with the guidance of fairy tale common elements’ list. According to David-Glen Smith (2012:21), the first and the most important element in fairy tale is the presence of a magical creature and also the magical situations that happen through the story. However, even if magical creature exists in Five Children and It and magical events are frequent, the story is lacking in other fairy tales characteristics. Smith (2012:21) further explains in his list that the protagonists in fairy tales are commonly down-trodden; orphan, stepchild, cast-out prince, or prodigal son. None of the criteria apply on the five children, but I see one thing orphan child and five children have in common, the absence of parents. However, instead of being unwanted children who live a pitiful life and are abandoned by their evil uncle/aunt/stepmother/father, the five children are living what seems to be a never ending holiday and almost have freedom to explore their adventurous world. The Canary Prince on the other hand, clearly has this characteristic. It is even very clearly stated in the beginning of the story where Calvino explains the unfortunate fate of the motherless princess. The Canary Prince also has the magical event occurring in the story that is done by a witch. Smith also says that in fairy tale, the protagonists go through three phases; psychological, physical, and spiritual (2012:21). These three transformations can be found in The Canary Prince. In The Canary Prince, princess, the protagonist lost her mother and she lives with her father who remarries a wicked stepmother. In the story is also told that her stepmother always hates her and she tries her best to get rid of the princess. In my opinion the beginning of this story reveals enough of the princess’ psychological burden. Later, the princess is sent to a castle in the middle of a forest, in my opinion this bit shows physical imprisonment of the princess, and lastly is when the princess finally gains spiritual pleasure in marrying the love of her life. As I cited from the excerpt of Propp’s Morphology of Folktale this last characteristic also appears as the 31st Vladimir Propp’s list (1968:42) where the hero marries the princess, or in this case, the prince, and ascends the throne. These three aspects do not appear in Five Children and It, as I see it as a pure children adventurous tale. Another characteristic of fairy tale according to Smith is that the protagonists in the story must be pure good and the antagonists are pure evil, and that there is no in-between grey area (2012:21) as also stated by Propp (1968:79) who boldly lists eight characters that should appear in fairy tales, three of which are the villain who struggles against the hero/protagonist, the donor, who prepares the protagonist, and the hero/protagonist who reacts to the donor. Now, I think this characteristic in which there should be a bold line between the good and the bad is rather unclear in Five Children and It. Throughout the story, I cannot decide which characters are the antagonists. If we look at the five children’s manner during all of the events they go through, we can see that they are pretty well-mannered. However, in my opinion some of their behaviors are somewhat rude or mean. For example in chapter two, they are portrayed rather mean in the part where Martha gone to...
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