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Shahid Chohan

4 October 2008

Period 4

Albert Young’s Paragraph

An Inconvenient Truth

In the short story “The Princess and the Tin Box”, James Thurber uses the hyperbole

associated with the fairy tale genre to reveal that people are more likely to accept stereotype than

to think logically. The story begins with “[once] upon a time, in a far country” (1). This opening

line immediately establishes the genre as a fairy tale and lures the reader into viewing the plot

from a biased perspective. Instead of viewing the characters logically, the reader draws upon

archetypes of fairy tales and expects events in the story to correlate with the elements of this

genre. The princess is described s being “[the] prettiest princess in the world”, having “eyes

like…the cornflower”, and “hair…sweeter that hyacinth” (1). The princess’s’ lifestyle is an

example of the hyperbole present in fairy tales. Lured by the stereotypes of this genre, that reader

does not question the validity of the author’s statements. Instead, he or she continues to view the

text through the biased perspective established by the author’s choice of genre. This false sense

of belief creates a greater impact on the reader’s perception of his ignorance after the princess’

choice fails to fit the readers’ stereotypes. The fifth prince is described as being “the strongest

and handsomest of all the five suitors, but he was the son of a poor king” (1). He is described in

the greatest detail and his destitution is juxtaposed against the extravagance of the princess and

the other princes. The author establishes the fifth prince’s uniqueness as the underdog, satisfying

the reader’s expectation of the archetypical in a fairy tale. Although it is illogical for the princess

to accept the tin box, the reader ignores logical reasoning and sides his sympathies with the fifth

prince, with the notion he will redeem himself. The reader’s expectations from a fairy tale are
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foiled and his or her ignorance is revealed through the misleading hyperbole and blind

stereotypes of this fairy tale genre.