How are generic codes and narrative structure established in the 'post Havana' sequence of Guys and Dolls?

Essay by emmamayesCollege, UndergraduateB, April 2009

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The film sequence I have chosen to analyse is the scene directly after Sky and Sarah’s trip to Havana.

“Guys and Dolls” is a hybrid of genres including gangster, musical and romance. It has elements of three different story types – Romeo and Juliet because of the relationships between Sky Masterson & Sarah Brown and Nathan Detroit & Adelaide, Cinderella because of Adelaide’s ‘dream come true’ wedding to Nathan , and Faust because of the bet between Nathan and Sky.

In this scene there are five separate settings, Broadway – which is a common setting in the musical genre, the sewer and the ‘Save a Soul’ mission – which could be seen as representing the binary opposition in this sequence (good vs. evil). The sewer is underground, a cultural code giving connotations of hell and the devil, and the mission is a religious place to help ‘sinners’.

The other settings in this sequence are Havana, Cuba, which is a romantic setting, and a bar.

The bar is another conventional setting for each of the gangster, musical and romance genres.

According to Propp’s theory, Sky Masterson could be seen as the hero. It is his quest to take Sarah Brown to Havana to win the bet and the $1000. Sky’s quest serves as a hermeneutic as the audience asks whether Sky will fulfill his part of the bet. Nathan Detroit can be seen as the dispatcher, as his is the character who sends the hero on his quest. Sarah Brown and Adelaide are seen as the princess characters of the film, as they are the eventual prize for both the hero and dispatcher. Uncle Arvide or Lieutenant Brannigan could be seen as the Proppian ‘king’ figure, as they both ‘give away’ the princesses to the hero and dispatcher at the...