So I just sent in the final, completed, combined project to my university’s digital collection. And as promised, here’s the abstract:
Once Upon a Movie Screen: Four Favourite Fairy Tales and Their Disney Film Adaptations
“Cinderella”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Frog Prince” belong to the list of perennially favourite fairy tales, important parts of the canon of Western folklore. The reason for their popularity is the underlying story of each tale, which is empowering for its audience. Viewers and readers are able to experience the plot of a story through identification with the protagonist. These fairy tale plots are inherently empowering through their base story of the transformation from a spell-bound or oppressed existence to radiant happiness, a transformation that is either experienced or effected by the young woman who is the protagonist of the story. Fairy tales are re-told in myriad ways and often change significantly in detail during this process; however, each of the versions retains the key plot elements while adapting to the time and place of its telling. The example of these four fairy tales shows that the Baroque and Romantic fairy tale collectors – Charles Perrault, Mme de Villeneuve, Mme de Beaumont and the Brothers Grimm – adapt their versions to their culture as much as the Disney company does with their films. The Disney variants of the fairy tales take their place alongside the older written versions as a form of modern American folklore, disseminating the tales to today’s audiences.
And there you have it – two-and-a half years of grad school, condensed into one paragraph. It’s been a good ride.
I’ll let you know when the paper is posted publicly in the uni library for reading.
Well, the first draft is in the can. Of course, so far from not having enough to say to fill up the 5000-word paper, I had far too much to say, and ended up dropping more than half of what I had planned on and of the references I had copied out to use. I guess there’s good reasons people have written so many books on Austen and the film adaptations of her books.
So now to rewrite this thing into some semblance of sense…
So, Paper #1 is in the can. 2,500 words on the rejected suitors in the Austen canon. It was supposed to be 2000 words, but I couldn’t think of what to cut. Might have to work on it, I might able to cut out some of my verbiage. What is it they say in fiction writing – “Kill your darlings”?
In case you’re wondering, the suitors in question go from flat-character Mr Thorpe in Northanger Abbey, to just-as-flat Collins in P&P, slightly more rounded Elton in Emma (more on that below), fairly round Mr Elliot in Persuasion, to super-complex Henry Crawford in Mansfield and Mr Darcy in P&P again.
I’ve left out Mr Rushworth of Mansfield and Colonel Brandon of S&S, partially from reasons of space, but also because neither of them is rejected by the main heroine of the piece. And then, Rushworth gets dumped after he’s married (so he’s not so much a rejected suitor as a rejected husband), and Brandon never actually pushes his suit – he just quietly likes Marianne, but knows full well she doesn’t like him back, so he doesn’t bug her. (His success at the end of the story pretty much happens offstage.) That’s unlike all the other guys I’m talking about in this piece.
As far as the flat/round character designation goes, I took that straight from E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel. He says a rounded character is one who can surprise convincingly. “If it never surprises, it is flat. If it does not convince, it is flat pretending to be round.” (London: Penguin, 2005. 81). So by that definition, in Mr Elton “we get the beginning of the curve towards the round” (Forster 73) because he is capable of surprising both Emma and the reader (well, this reader, anyway) with just how nastily vindictive he gets when he’s rejected. And of course Crawford and Darcy are perfectly globular – people still can’t agree on the Crawfords today, and Darcy surprises everyone several times over, especially with his capacity to actually take Elizabeth’s rejection and learn from it. And that’s what turns him from the rejected suitor into the successful one at the end.