How the Leopard Got His Spots: The Hunt for Individuality

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Mӓrchen is a German word which describes an ordinary folktale. A folktale is a traditional story which originates and is passed orally throughout decades to different groups of people. How the Leopard Got His Spots by Rudyard Kipling, is a folktale written in the early 20th century which takes place in South Africa. It is a tale about a Leopard and an Ethiopian in search of the animals who have left the jungle. With help from the wise baboon, they rummage through the forest to not only find the animals, but their true identity as well. Through analyzing the story’s format, characters, and their journey, it is clear that it there are several similarities as well as differences to the traditional folktale A traditional folktale follows the basic Aristotelian form which consists of a specific style for the beginning, middle, and end. How the Leopard Got His Spots differs from a traditional folktale as it does not have a formulaic beginning, such as “Once upon a time,” and therefore does not warn the readers that they are about to enter a magical world of the supernatural. The story is similar to a folktale as there is an obstacle to overcome in the middle; the Leopard and Ethiopian must find the land that the other animals have escaped to. There are several other similarities within the format such as repetition of words, a pattern of three, and an ending that quickly follows the climax of the story. Although the story does not begin with a traditional phrase, Kipling concludes the story with a prevalent ending, informing readers that the characters “lived happily ever afterward” (61). Through speaking animals, the characters in the story follow one of the main types of folk literature, the animal tale. Kipling carries readers into the magical world of traditional folktale with his fictional character named Baviaan, the dog-headed baboon who is “The Wisest

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