Fairytales: Children’s Greatest Companion Throughout my childhood, my sister loved to write unique fairytales for me that would make my little mind soar. Although I didn’t read modern fairytales, fairytales played an important role in my childhood as they first helped me to read, gain knowledge about the world and understand myself. According to Bruno Bettelheim’s book, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairytales, fairy tales give children much knowledge about their identity, others emotions and their environment. Children gain knowledge by reading about life experiences similar to their own and use this knowledge they gain through out their development, just as I did.
Fairytales and folktales have been told around the campfire, in the living room, the class room, and before bedtime for centuries. First told orally, the “… stories had to have remarkable features in order to remain memorable (Nodelman 246).” These stories were passed down from storyteller to audience until they were eventually written down and collected for consumption by the public. Due to the passing of time and fallibility the stories have changed throughout the years and slightly differ from culture to culture, however, “Stories similar to “Cinderella” can be found in historical records from as far back as the seventh century, and from a variety of places around the world (Nodelman 246).” Although the classic tales differ in various ways from their modern counterparts (such as Disney films, etc.), the characters and their journeys are still very much identifiable.
A fairy tale is seemingly a moral fiction, intended mainly for children. A lesson in critical analysis, however, strips this guise and reveals the naked truth beneath; fairy tales are actually vicious, logical and sexual stories wearing a mask of deceptively easy language and an apparent moral. Two 19th Century writers, the Grimm brothers, were masters at writing these exaggerated stories, bewitching young readers with their prose while padding their stories with allusion and reference: an example of which is "Rapunzel." Grimm's "Rapunzel" is packed with religious symbolism, which lends a new insight to the meaning of this classic story.
Fairy tales are an integral part of American culture. From Grimm’s Fairy Tales --- what most people consider the “classic” or “traditional” stories --- to Disney movies, the idea of the fairy tale permeates our society. While the written fairy tale is, at its base, literary, the social sciences also can illuminate the origin and meaning of fairy tales. At a glance, Rumpelstiltskin looks just like any other children’s fairytale, but when further examined, new and deeper meanings are discovered. The concept of Rumpelstiltskin has gone through many permutations in western society. Even in recent years, fairy tale retellings have become more popular, suggesting that fairy tales still hold a deep resonance in our culture. The contemporary literary
Fairytales, many written by The Brothers Grimm Jacob and Wilhelm, has been told to children the world over for hundreds of years, in the 1800’s they were used to teach children the roles boys and girls should play, as well as what it means to be good or evil. Fantastical stories told by the Brothers Grimm of princesses, princes, Kings, Queens, and valiant knights, retold and molded into the medium of the time. But what does it do to your child’s psyche? Can fairytales do more harm than good? What underlying message is your child receiving from such fantastical stories?
Tatar, Maria. Off with their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.
Fairy tales portray wonderful, elaborate, and colorful worlds as well as chilling, frightening, dark worlds in which ugly beasts are transformed into princes and evil persons are turned to stones and good persons back to flesh (Guroian). Fairytales have long been a part of our world and have taken several forms ranging from simple bedtime stories to intricate plays, musicals, and movies. However, these seemingly simple stories are about much more than pixie dust and poisoned apples. One could compare fairytales to the new Chef Boyardee; Chef Boyardee hides vegetables in its ravioli while fairytales hide society’s morals and many life lessons in these outwardly simple children stories. Because of this fairytales have long been instruments used to instruct children on the morals of their culture. They use stories to teach children that the rude and cruel do not succeed in life in the long run. They teach children that they should strive to be kind, caring, and giving like the longsuffering protagonists of the fairytale stories. Also, they teach that good does ultimately defeat evil. Fairy tales are not just simple bedtime stories; they have long been introducing cultural moral values into young children.
During the 19th century, Grimm’s fairytales were strongly disapproved of due to harsh, gruesome details and plots. One American educator from 1885 stated, “The folktales mirror all too loyally the entire medieval worldview and culture with all its stark prejudice, its crudeness and barbarities.” As childre...
At first glance, what makes a fairy tale a fairy tale may seem obvious—some kind of magic, hidden symbols, repetition, and of course it’s evident it’s fiction—but fables are more than that. As Arthur Schelesinger puts it, it’s about “[expanding] imagination” and gaining understanding of mysterious places (618). While doing this, it also helps children to escape this world, yet teach a lesson that the reader may not be conscious of. A wonderful story that achieves all of this is Cinderella, but not the traditional tale many American’s have heard. Oochigeaskw, or The Rough-Faced Girl, and Ashputtle would be fitting for a seven-year-old because they get the gears of the mind turning, allowing for an escape on the surface, with an underlying enlightenment for children of the ways of the world.