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Fairy-Tale Structures and Motifs in Le Grand Meaulnes

Elaine D. Cancalon

This study assumes that the events which held great importance for Alain-Fournier were not haphazard occurrences but the signs of pre-existing psychic themes. One of the frames of reference from which these tendencies originate is the world of the fairy-tale. These themes have far-reaching value since the fairy-tale, in its structure and content, is a universal expression of human aspirations. The structure of Le Grand Meaulnes, based on the opposition «departure» vs. «return», is similar to the universal quest often represented in fairy-tales. The tale type of «Sleeping Beauty» contains three elements of content («motifs») most applicable to the novel: the Prince, the Princess and the Château. The psychological significance of the novel is brought to light by a study of Alain-Fournier's symbolic transformation of these motifs.