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Literature / Shrek

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Shrek! is a 1990 fantasy children's book by William Steig about the titular repugnant green monster who leaves home to see the world and ends up marrying an ugly princess. It was the inspiration for the 2001 animated film of the same name, but very loosely.


This story provides examples of:

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  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The donkey possesses this style of speech.
  • Breath Weapon: Shrek can breathe fire, which he uses to fight both a knight and a dragon.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Shrek is so repulsive that plants wilt in his presence and animals flee from him. He's very proud of this.
  • Eye Beams: Shrek's glare is so intense that it can heat food.
  • Excited Show Title!: The novel has an exclamation mark in its title.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Shrek at one point dreams of a meadow of flowers full of happy children frolicking, which is so distressing to him that he's reduced to tears.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: The narrative does this a lot. Shrek's parents "hissed" things over and "kicked" him goodbye, and Shrek left the black hole in which he'd been "hatched".
  • Meaningful Name: Shrek's name comes from the Yiddish word meaning "fear."
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  • Rhymes on a Dime: Every character in the story possesses this style of speech, and when they don't, they use alliteration.
  • Sapient Steed: Unlike in the movie, the donkey is big enough for Shrek to ride.
  • Talking Animal: The donkey. Every other animal character is just a normal animal.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The plot kicks off when Shrek is told that he's destined to marry a princess even uglier than him. When he finally finds her, they fall in Love at First Sight and are delighted by the other's repulsiveness.
    "And they lived horribly ever after, scaring the socks off all who fell afoul of them."
  • Villain Protagonist: Shrek takes delight in causing misery wherever he goes with his powers and sheer ugliness, a notable example being stealing a pheasant from a peasant so he could eat it.
  • Witch Classic: Soon after leaving home Shrek comes across one in the woods, an old woman with a long nose who is boiling bats in her giant black cauldron. He trades her some of his "rare lice" to her in exchange for getting his fortune told.
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