UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Can we consider ‘Belle de Jour’ a fairy tale? : a study based on Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale Sprigg, Sinead C.


This thesis uses the methodology devised by Russian folklorist and scholar, Vladimir Propp, in his Morphology of the Folktale (1968) to illustrate the hypothesis that Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967) shares the same narrative events and archetypal character which are highlighted in the Morphology, and that accordingly, the film may be considered to operate as a fairy tale. This thesis will parallel the structure of events and characters in Belle de Jour with those in Charles Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood (1697). The parallels will demonstrate that the film exhibits the same narrative structure as an existing fairy tale, and that therefore Propp’s methodology may be applicable to other mediums such as film. Thus illustrating Orenstein’s suggestion that “not only individual tales but also entirely different tale types share the same basic structure and fundamental characters” (231). Accordingly, important topics which will be covered in this thesis include the distinction between the terms folk and fairy tale, whereby the main distinction occurs in folk tale’s existence as an oral narrative form, and fairy tale pertains to the literary version of such tales. Other key terms include the concept of adaptation as a process whereby an important element of the original source tale or text is carried over in some way, given that both works within this thesis are fed from existing sources. Furthermore, Vladimir Propp’s Morphology is to be understood as the structure of a fairy tale as following a set narrative structure and sequence of events. The French term conte will be used throughout this thesis, as it best describes the original form of the tale written by Charles Perrault. The term conte simply means ‘a short imaginary story’.

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