An Analysis of Fairy Tales

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Sagas about princes and princesses, beauty, magic, and love, fairy tales like Snow White and Cinderella among others have become children’s favorite bedtime stories. However, as parents tuck their sons and daughters in, they fail to realize that there is a much more daunting purpose to these stories. American writer and poet, Jane Yolen suggests that fairy tales indicate life values. Furthermore, Yolen insists that these tales are “thumbprints of history” (Yolen 27). Studying fairy tales in depth, she proves that the “functions of myths” consist of “creating a landscape of allusion [and] enabling us to understand our own and out culture from inside out” (Yolen 18). Yolen confirms that these stories comment on, “the abstract truths of our common human existence” (Yolen 18). To Yolen, fairy tales inform the audience about significant themes and historical events.

Jack Zipes, a retired professor, has lectured on the subject of fairy tales and folklore for many years. Zipes maintains that fairy tales are far from harmless and play a much larger role in society. In fact, he concludes that “the creative purpose and major themes of the folk tales did not concern harmony but the depictions of changing social structures” (Zipes). Moreover, he insists that “might makes right” as the ideas in a particular fairy tale usually display the beliefs of the dominating class (Zipes). According to Zipes, “central to most tales is the concept of power” (Zipes). Furthermore, Zipes argues that fairy tales frequently present elitist and sexist views. Zipes argues that fairy tales reflect the views of the dominating class, often mocking the minorities of a given community.

As stated by Jane Yolen and Jack Zipes, fairy tales play a much greater ro...

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...h much more significant themes and truly enlighten people (Yolen 36).

Work Cited

Tatar, Maria. “Jack Zipes: Breaking the Disney Spell.” The Classic Fairy tales. New York: W.W.

Norton and Company, 1999. 332-352.

Yolen, Jane. “How Basic Is Shazam?”Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in Literature of

Childhood. Little Rock: August House Publisher Inc., 2000. 13-19.

Yolen, Jane. “Once Upon a Time.” Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie and Folklore in Literature of

Childhood. Little Rock: August House Publisher Inc., 2000. 27-36.

Zipes, Jack David. Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales.

Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002.

Zipes, Jack. “On the Use and Abuse of Fold and fairy Tale with Children: Bruno Bettelheim’s

Moralistic magic wand.” Literature Resource Center. Gale, 2007. Web. 18 Feb 2010.
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