Breton Lai Character Types and Reader-Rules

For a useful collection of international folk tale motifs, including character and action types, see the Stith Thompsen Folk-Motif Index.  These characer/action combinations are based on Marie's "Le Fresne."


The Bad Parent/Authority Figure: proud, envious, fearful, greedy, cruel, or just plain "faerie."

The Displaced Child/Vassal: unexpected, illegitimate, unusually "gifted" (see "faerie" above), unusually generous/just/honorable.

The Challenger: a bad noble; a strange knight/lady; a monstrous being.

The Agents of Return: hermits; faeries; ladies beset by enemies; magic birthright tokens.

The Concerns: bastardy/illegitimacy, orphanhood, competition between siblings, humanity, noble ancestry, proper kinship/incest, parricide/matricide/parent-child power conflict, proper loyalty to lords and protection of vassals, justice.

The Narrative Moves (Subject Phrase→Verb Phrase)