“The loveliest lies of all”: Death, Closure, and the Banishment Tale in Patrick McHale’s Over the Garden Wall
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This thesis is a poststructuralist examination of Patrick McHale’s Over the Garden Wall television miniseries and graphic novels Tome of the Unknown and Distillatoria (termed the “primary canon”) as a postmodern adaptation of the conventions of the Proppian fairy tale. Foregrounding Vladimir Propp’s morphology in this discussion is essential in that Propp helps us consider which conventions of narrative structure continue in popular contemporary children’s literature and media; thus, this thesis maintains that the primary canon’s centralisation of the banishment function of Propp’s morphology to create a new Proppian tale type—the banishment tale—critiques the function of conventional endings in children’s literature. Moreover, given the banishment function’s association with liminality and instability, the primary canon engages in discourses of death and selfhood. Consequently, this thesis argues that the primary canon challenges the assumption of a universal “truth” through closure by deferring closure and finding meaning in death.