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Structural Analysis Of Short Story English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1829 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Once upon in a time in a land with lush green forests and gurgling streams between the river and the village, there lived a simple fisherman and his young daughter. The fisherman lived beside a nearby a stream far away from the village, catching no more than enough fish to provide for him and his daughter. He hardly ever left his house, and when he did leave home, it was merely to travel to the other side of the stream when fishing proved to be fruitless because the fish would not bite.

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“Dear fisherman, since you are the only one here in this spot, I have a task I would like you to perform for me. If you choose to accept my task, I shall reward you generously. We sprites are eminent for our aversion for water and would rather not get too close to it, but I have felt very hungry for a specific stream-dweller lately and would be thankful if you could catch it for me.”

The sprite, contrary to her casual words, did not want just any ordinary fish from the stream. She sought the legendary Fish of Wisdom, the fish that, if eaten, bestowed wisdom beyond belief upon the being that consumed it. The fisherman knew nothing about this and accepted the sprite’s task to catch the fish.

“It looks like all the rest of the fish in the stream, but has a single red scale towards the tip of its right fin that gives it away,” the sprite assured him. “If you make do with my task by the end of the next fortnight, I will bless you with good fortune and numerous sons.”

The fisherman said goodbye and left the sprite. He sat by the stream for almost a fortnight, drinking sweet streambed water and dining on the few small fish he was able to catch. There was no sign of the fish with the red scale the sprite desired.

On the fourteenth day, just before he departed from the water to admit his failure to the surely ireful sprite, a tiny, silver fish bit at his line. When he hauled it onto the shore he discovered that there was a glistening red scale upon the tip of its right fin. Extremely delighted, the fisherman carried his prize home, where he set it aside on the table in wait for the sprite to take it the next morning. His daughter, however, who was as shrewd as he was simple, said to him, “Father, did you ever wonder why this fish was so significant to the sprite? Perhaps it would prove more valuable to us if you kept it for yourself, despite the sprite’s promises.”

The fisherman dismissed the idea at first as it was too complicated for his simple mind to dwell upon. But as the minutes passed, he too began to wonder whether he should keep the fish for himself. It did seem fairly odd, now that he thought about it, that the sprite would promise a great deal for a common fish that was supposed to look like all the rest.

After much consideration, the fisherman came to the conclusion that it would do no harm to eat a tiny morsel of fish just to see if it tasted remarkable. As soon as the first bite passed through his lips, his eyes brightened with knowledge and his stature straightened with a new awareness. It was then that he recalled hearing a legend about the Fish of Wisdom and realized what had happened.

Calling to his daughter, the fisherman instructed her to get a pail of water from the stream and set it by the door of their house. Then he waited until dawn for the sprite to appear.

When the fisherman spotted the sprite approaching from the forest, he leapt out with the pail and doused the impatient sprite before she could knock on the door. She instantly shrieked and fled into the fading twilight, shouting back curses at the formerly simple fisherman. Just before she disappeared past the trees, she turned back and screeched, “Where I would have given you luck and sons fit for a king, I now call upon ill fortune of all kinds destroy your would-be happiness!”

With that, the sprite vanished into the bush, leaving the fisherman to blame his shivers of uncertainty on the cold and embrace the world of wisdom with his arms wide open.

Many years passed, and the fisherman soon grew heavy from the wealth of royals and merchants seeking his council. His daughter married a prosperous trader that lived in the village while his growing harem of wives continued to produce many sons that added to his wealth and standing.

One year, long after the wise fisherman had forgotten the sprite’s dark promise; famine struck the valley surrounding his home by the stream, causing the thriving greenery to brown and wither and the streams to shrink back into the crisp dirt. Fewer people came to seek the fisherman’s council because they could not reach him without bringing caravans of food and water. Before his very eyes, his numerous children died of starvation and his harem of young and dissatisfied wives left him. Before long, the fisherman was alone; lord of an empty abode slowly crumbling even as he sat between the pillars of his useless riches. All the fame and good fortune he had won for himself collapsed.

After many miserable days, the fisherman sank into eternal sleep upon the dry streambed that had led to his demise. To this day, the land remains barren and dead, caked with the dried mud of wistful shrubs and nettles longing for the days before ill fortune fell upon them. It is said among the locals that at the beginning of each spring, the time when the streams should run thick with glistening fish, a ringing laugh echoes throughout the land, the sound of the sprite returning to find her adversary reduced to dust.


 Fisherman The protagonist is a simple man who lives an uneventful life by the stream with his young daughter and fishes for a living. He is foolish enough to cross the sprite.

Sprite There are different variations of sprites, including those who are elemental of air like this one. Hence why she did not like being splashed with water. She is very tiny in size and she is an irritable little thing that lives within the forest.

Fisherman’s daughter She is a young girl who makes a foolish mistake and pushes her father to decide to not give the sprite what she wanted and to be selfish instead.

Setting (time/when and place/where):

There is no particular time this fairy tale is set in

It takes place in a fantasy world that has no specific name

The story is set in a fairy tale land with a lush, green land between a river and a village

For most of the time, the story is set by the fisherman’s house his garden beside the forest and a streambed

At the end of the story, many years have passed (about ten years)

Story Problem:

A fisherman betrays a sprite despite the reward she offered to give to him if he completed a task for her that included catching a specific fish from the stream beside his house. When he catches the fish his daughter suggests he keep it to himself, saying it would be more beneficial for him to keep the Fish of Wisdom as opposed to giving it to the little sprite.

Major Events (How the characters tried to solve the problem.):

One day, the sprite visits the simple fisherman and makes him a deal. If he completes her task and delivers her the Fish of Wisdom, she will give him good blessings. He accepts her task and goes to the stream for fourteen days and eventually gets the fish.

Instead of completing his task and receiving a reward for doing what the sprite asked of him, the fisherman listened to his foolish daughter and decided to keep the fish for himself instead of giving it to the sprite.

The sprite approached his house but the fisherman sent her away and she cursed him with bad luck and after many years passed, that curse came true and the land withered and his family died from starvation, leaving him all alone and to die from lack of food and water. 

Solution (How the problem was solved.):

The problem in this fairy tale was not solved because the fisherman got the fish but did not complete his task because he ate the fish by himself and deceived the sprite instead of doing what she asked. He grows fat after many years pass by and looses his family and other people due to the curse the sprite put on him after he betrayed her trust.

Story Moral/Lesson:

One should not be greedy and take advantage of people.

Being greedy comes with a price. Due to his simple mindedness, the fisherman could not resist listening to his young daughter’s foolish proposal to deceive the sprite for personal satisfaction and carrying it out.

Keep your promises.

Being disloyal to others does not get you anywhere without trouble following close behind. It is very important to keep your promises because loyalty exemplifies a person’s kindness and it is never nice to betray a person’s trust.

At least three fairy tale ELEMENTS that are identified and used in this story:

TREACHERY The fisherman performs an act of disloyalty against the sprite who offered him great blessings in exchange for completing a task for her.

 A TASK IS PERFORMED He catches the Fish of Wisdom for the sprite.

 THE PROTAGONIST MAKES A MISTAKE He also commits a wrong action proceeding from faulty judgment when his daughter foolishly tells him it would be more beneficial for him to keep the fish for himself instead of giving it to the tiny sprite.

At least three fairy tale THEMES that are identified and used in this story:


The fisherman’s young daughter manages to get her father to keep the fish for himself, saying that if the fish was so special to the sprite, it would be very good to keep it. Despite the sprite’s promises, the fisherman betrays the sprite. He is filled with wisdom from the fish. DECEPTION



When the sprite comes to fetch the fish from the simple fisherman, he sends her away by throwing a bucket of water at her (she is not a water sprite and she does not like water).

He waits fourteen days by the stream to catch the fish, and when he catches it, he takes it home and he waits until morning to give it to the little sprite.

In a beautiful fairy tale land far away, there lived a fisherman who live a boring life and tried to catch enough fish to feed him and his young daughter.

The fisherman’s uneventful life was interrupted one day when a sprite appeared in his garden, beckons him to her and offers him a reward in exchange for catching the Fish of Wisdom and bringing it to her.

Many years pass and the fisherman grows fat. He enjoys his wisdom and new wealth. However, a famine struck the land and his family dies from starvation. He grew lonely and died miserable.


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