Fable in Bond Stories

The duality of the fantastic and the real in the character of Bond relies to a great extent on the basic narrative format of the novels and the films. Bond’s world is familiar to us in its oddity. We all know the basic elements of a James Bond story: there is Bond, the good guy; a grotesque villain with a megalomaniacal plan; a beautiful woman who is either an innocent or connected to the villain; M who decides Bond’s morality for him; and Q who equips Bond with virtually everything he might need. Added to this mix is a sprinkling of black tie functions, a high stakes gamble, exotic locations, gunplay, dangerous car chases, and usually a plot device which somehow involves water. As viewers, we anticipate all these elements and so then are provided with access to the secret agent world of 007. However, as Van Dover comments “Fleming’s underlying fable is the simplest, and perhaps, therefore the most powerful” . “Ultimately Bond’s appeal derives from the fairy-tale quality of his adventures” . Ian Fleming himself recognized as much when he said: “Bond is really a latter-day Saint George” and included references to the similarity in the novels. For example, in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” Bond mused, “It would be amusing to reverse the old fable-first to rescue the girl, then to slay the monster.” While in Fleming’s “You Only Live Twice” Tiger Tanaka comments “You are to enter this Castle of Death and slay the dragon within” .

The organization of Bond stories is eerily similar to the fable of St. George and the Dragon. There is a monster, a damsel to be rescued, a threat to avoid, and distance to be traveled. Bond is “a chivalric hero who rides out to vanquish a grotesque villain embodying social and moral evil…he rides for queen, country and the liberal tradition…[and] again and again rescues a damsel, slays a monster, and averts a holocaust” .

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