Gargantua and Pantagruel

Gargantua and Pantagruel Literary Elements



Setting and Context

France and fictitious locations in an anachronistic setting that blends a feudal medieval setting with 16th century Renaissance ideals.

Narrator and Point of View

It is unclear who the narrator is supposed to be in the first book, although the framework within the first chapters imply that the story is being translated by a scholar who was hired for his services after the document of the first book was discovered. In the second book, the narrator claims to be a servant of Pantagruel, and he eventually reveals that his name is Alcofribas. This character may also be the narrator in books 3-5, but it is never definitively stated. The point of view in all five books is always from that of an observer watching and documenting the actions of the main characters. There are moments when the characters interact with the narrator, and the narrator also allows the characters to speak somewhat directly to the audience of the story.

Tone and Mood

As a satire, the tone and mood in the first two books remain jovial and adventurous. In the third book, the tone changes to something more serious, and the mood becomes philosophically didactic. The fourth and fifth books try to recapture the fun-loving, adventurous mood of the first two books, but they actually possess a darker tone with a slightly foreboding mood -- or at least a mood that mixes the emotions of uncertainty and wonderment.

Protagonist and Antagonist


Major Conflict

Book 1: War between the people of Gargantua's homeland and the people of Picrochole's country.

Book 2: War between the people of Pantagruel's homeland and the Dipsodes.

Book 3: Pantagruel and Panurge debate over whether marriage always leads to cuckoldry.

Book 4-5: No real major conflict. These books catalog the people and places that Pantagruel and his companions visit on their way to the Oracle of the Holy Bottle.


Book 1: Defeating Picrochole's armies.

Book 2: Conquering over the Dipsodes.

Book 3: Making plans to set off on an Odysseus-like voyage to find the answer to Panurge's question.

Book 4-5: Reaching the Oracle of the Holy Bottle and finally gaining an answer that Panurge can accept.






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The stories in Book One and Book Two parallel each other rather well, even though book two was written first. It is not surprising that these books parallel each other so well, since each book essentially tells the story of how a giant is born, grows up, becomes educated, makes friends, and then finally goes to war to prove himself in battle. There are many similarities between Gargantua's group of friends and Pantagruel's friends as well. In fact, certain characters, such as the tutors Ponocrates and Epistemon, seem almost interchangeable, since they are so similar.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



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