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Original scientific paper

Decoding the causation of a happy ending: a cognitive narrative structure analysis of “Du Zichun” 杜子春 and “Toshishun” 杜子春

Mojca Pretnar

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This study addresses the question of causation in common human efforts to achieve and maintain happiness by attempting to gain insights into the causation of a happy ending in narratives, doing so through the investigation of an example of the metaphorical pursuit of happiness, as presented in the theme of pursuing immortality. It compares two versions of the same story that ends with the agent’s failure to achieve immortality, but the two stories have different outcome emotions: the Chinese legend “Du Zichun” 杜子春 ends with a tragic tone, while “Toshishun” 杜子春, as retold by Akutagawa, ends with a happy state of mind. A closer look into the information encoded in the three main elements of the narrative structure (the goal, the causal sequence and the agent of both stories) reveals some significant differences. The process of decoding the final causation is carried out first by a comparison of the image schemas underlying the goal; second, the numeric symbolism behind the causal sequences is examined; and third, the use of positive junctural and outcome emotions. The investigation reveals that the new story with a happy ending is a product of a shift in perspective.


narrative structure, causation of a happy ending, Chinese legend “Du Zichun” 杜子春, Akutagawa’s “Toshishun” 杜子春, conceptual metaphor theory

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