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How the Film Shrek Comically Reverses the Expectations of a Traditional Fairy Tale

We, as an audience, think of a traditional fairy tale as a beautiful, kind, young and sweet princess who will be guarded in the claws of a terrible ogre, witch or dragon. In addition, there will be a curse cast upon the princess, which is to be broken by “true love and true love’s first kiss.” The brave and handsome prince who will slay the beast thus wins the heart of the beautiful princess. That is the basis of a typical, traditional and stereotypical fairy tale like “Sleeping Beauty” or “Beauty and the Beast”.

These are just 2 of hundreds of traditional fairy tales. In this essay, I will be explaining how the film “Shrek” comically reverses the expectations of a traditional fairy tale and how it uses intertextuality and self-reference in this humorous adventure of an ugly ogre. In this paragraph, I will explain how an audience can be stereotypical and the false sense of security we feel. When we as an audience first see Shrek, we stereotype him as the evil, short-tempered villain because of his appearance, big green and ugly, and the way he acts like ripping and wiping his behind with a magic book.

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We then refer to a traditional fairy tale and stereotype him as the villain. Before this happens, soft traditional music with a calm voice reading an old book with magic turning pages, at this point, we feel a force sense of security as if we might be in a “spell.” But this does not last for long as the next big green hand tears out the page and says in a loud voice: “Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.” This self-referential quote shows the beast’s rudeness and arrogance, leading you to believe that this character is the villain.

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In this paragraph, I will be showing what’s different. First, we think of a noble steed to be strong, fearless and to be a beautiful white-coated horse, but Shrek’s ” noble steed” is a donkey who runs for Shrek in the face of danger, is annoying and clumsy like when he doesn’t want to cross the bridge to go and save the princess. Next, I will explain how lord Farquart differs from traditional fairy tales. Handsome princes are usually tall, have blond hair. They boldly go and rescue the beautiful princess from the clutches of a terrible fire-breathing dragon. The film Shrek comically reverses this by having lord Farquoad extremely short.

He seems normal height when we first see him, but when the camera angle changes and zooms out, we humorously see how small he is. Lord Farquart has long black hair; he’s ugly and spiteful. Also, he sends Shrek on his mission to rescue the princess. The last person I will talk about is Princess Fiona; though traditionally beautiful, she has some hidden talents. She can fight; she beat up Robin Hood and his merry men, who are also reversed as Robin Hood is usually the hero. In the fight, intertextuality is used when Fiona uses a matrix stile double kick this is because it has been copped from other text. The talent is one princess does not usually possess.

This shows the film is not a clone of being traditional, but coincidently, it has a traditional cruel enchantment that can only be broken by “true love and true loves first kiss”. The last thing I’m going to write about it in the end. The ending is semi-traditional because true love finds itself, but coincidently it’s not with a prince and princess but with an ogre and a princess. Another traditional conclusion is when the curse is broken by trueloves first kiss where love will take its true form (the princess becomes an ogre). This will come as a surprise to the audience because we believed that the curse would be broken. Thus, the princess will turn back to normal. But there is a traditional “happy ever after” ending (apart from lord Farquad).

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How the Film Shrek Comically Reverses the Expectations of a Traditional Fairy Tale. (2021, Sep 14). Retrieved May 20, 2022, from