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Briar Rose Essay

903 words - 4 pages

How has Jane Yolen made use of the features of a fairytale to explore the themes in Briar Rose?

Jane Yolen’s novel Briar Rose (1992) combines enchanting fairy tale elements with realistic historical attributes to create an engaging representation of personal discovery/the horrors that defined the holocaust/OR answer Q. Yolen unfolds her narrative through multiple narrative layers and literary techniques to convey the central ideas of human determination and resilience, and the significance of memory to bring back to life an anonymous past. Through the themes and literary techniques that Yolen utilises, the parallels of Briar Rose to a fairy tale are developed into a family history.

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The undefeatable fortitude of the partisans is impressed upon the responders through the bold visual simile in “…better to go down fighting… than to be thrown away like an old rag into a vast unmarked grave”. Aron’s words provides meaning to Henrik’s determined yet almost hyperbolic language when he says, “it is our sacred duty to fight when we can and to die if we must”. Yolen has effectuated the partisans’ strong sense of dignity and their willingness to preserve it and persevere rather than give up, regardless of the consequences. From Yolen’s distinguished representation of the horrors and hardships Josef, Gemma and the partisans endured, readers are able to realise the strength of the human spirit. Through the parallel to the fairy tale element of good triumphing over evil, the determination and endurance demonstrated by the partisans also portrays the essential fairy tale principle of heroism.

In Briar Rose, Yolen intends to convey the impact of one’s knowledge of their familial history to their understanding of their own identity. This is presented through the determination of the novel’s protagonist, Rebecca Berlin (Becca) in her pursuit to uncover the connections between Gemma’s ‘Briar Rose’ to her statement, “I was the princess in the castle in the sleeping woods…I am Briar Rose.” The composer effectively portrays this through Becca’s determined tone when she says, “I’m going to solve it… I’m going to find the castle and the prince and reclaim our heritage.” The symbolism of the ‘castle’ and the ‘prince’ allude to the positive fairy tale of ‘happily ever after’ and through this, Yolen establishes the prominence of Becca’s determination in her quest and the closure it’s prospective accomplishment will provide for her and her family. This issue is intensified by the strong bond between...

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