Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 12: No 2) >> Folk and Fairy Tale Elements in Guy Rivers >> Page 8

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Secondary Scholarship | 2004
Transcription Folk and Fairy Tale Elements
in Guy Rivers

Correna Catlett Merricks
Wilmore, Kentucky

The Grimm Brothers version of the Briar Rose tale ends well: a beautiful
heroine and handsome prince celebrate a wedding that imparts life-long happiness
to both the bride and the groom. Like many other fairy tales, "Briar Rose"
includes a witch, a castle, a handsome prince, a beautiful heroine, and a happy
ending. Most of the stories that are thought of as traditional fairy tales originated
in Europe, although they connect universally with readers around the world.
Fairy-tales are part of many cultures, and often make up an important part of a
culture's particular mythology. Simms's Guy Rivers includes qualities that are
traditionally elements of fairy-tales. The novel is a romance, in which a
handsome "prince" eventually marries the young woman he loves; but it also
includes elements of American folklore and frontier life that add a decidedly rural,
pioneer quality to the novel. I propose that Guy Rivers an American fairy tale:
Simms's inclusion of American folklore and folk language, the location of the
novel, and the characters all make this fairy tale emphatically American. In. Guy
Rivers, folk and popular traditions merge to create a hybrid of several types of
literature, making the novel unique. Simms includes archetypal characters, the
language and humor of tall tales, and even American-style castles, heroes and
villains, all adding fairy-tale qualities to the novel.
Guy Rivers is a blend of folk and popular traditions, creating a distinctive
style of novel that is representative of American folk culture. Simms's inclusion
of various motifs and archetypes indicates the way in which the folk customs of
Europe were deeply embedded in the early American mindset, but his changes in
the fairy-tale genre indicate that American ideals were beginning to take shape.