Fiction Fused With Reality

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Yann Martel’s magic realism novel Life of Pi (2006) and Guillermo Del Toro’s dark fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth (2002) fuses fiction with reality as they explore shared concerns such as faith, survival and the importance of narration. These bildungsroman tales feature teenage protagonists who undergo profound transformations as they strive to overcome confronting challenges.

Yann Martel is able to blend real elements with the surreal through the use of storytelling. “Without Richard Parker, I wouldn't be alive today to tell you my story.” Yann Martel not only forewarns of the future events but also demonstrates the characteristics that Piscine has. Animal allegories are used as a recurring motif in the novel and are used to symbolise coping mechanisms. “Did you notice that the zebra and the Taiwanese sailor broke a leg?” Yann Martel uses these allegories to help hide the dark and sinister side of survival with natural animal behaviour and instincts. The blind Frenchman not only acts as an outlet for Piscine’s savagery but also provides a new perception of Piscine. “He was such an evil man. Worse still, he met evil in me…I must live with that.” Piscine’s statement shows that he was once a humble boy with no intent of murder; however the sea transformed him into the greater of two evils. Yann Martel uses the bildungsroman genre to help emphasise the feats that people will perform to survive.

Guillermo Del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth is set in 1944, shortly after the conclusion of Spanish civil war. Despite the difference in settings, both texts are examples of bildungsroman, and share a variety of different themes.Del Toro intertwines reality with fiction through the use of the main protagonist Ofelia. Ofelia a young girl assis...

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...k the boundaries of conventual narratives. Martel continues with this new style of writing with fictional authors notes at the start of the novel to set the context for the rest of his novel. The fictional author’s notes are extremely post modern and as a result the boundaries of fiction and reality are blurred. Like Martel, Del Toro uses a dual plot line to help break the convention of the narrative structure. “That's what I love about fairy tales; they tell the truth, not organized politics, religion or economics.” This helps to stress the importance that both Martel and Del Toro believe in the power of narrative.

Despite being set shortly after the Spanish civil war, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth has many distinct connections with Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi. These texts both discuss commonalities such as the power of narrative, genre and religion.
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