As old as most fairy tales are, there are some instances in which their relevance has arguably soared rather than dwindled overtime. “The Fisherman and his Wife” by The Brothers Grimm is a primary example in which an isolated case of runaway greed depicted in the tale is commonplace throughout society today. The Brothers Grimm also deviate somewhat from the traditional style of fairy tales. While many common motifs characteristic of fairy tales are present, they are expressed more as reverse motifs; the fisherman or “hero” lacks the traits necessary to succeed in these worlds, thereby achieving little and receiving punishment for it. The Brothers Grimm also apply crucial literary devices such as symbolism and foreshadowing to illustrate the fisherman 's gradual downfall as he fails to demonstrate adequate courage and strength to overcome the increasingly ridiculous demands of his wife. The end result is the dissolving of what had been given and an eternal unhappiness for both. A central moral surrounding “The Fisherman and his Wife” is that an insatiable appetite for power cannot ever lead to true happiness because the appetite itself will always supercede the enjoyment resulting from what was granted or achieved. In our modern society plagued with an accelerating rate of consumerism, “The Fisherman and his Wife” arguably carries even greater relevance than it did at the time it was written.
2. Prevailing Motifs
In terms of labelling, the fisherman is the technical protagonist of the story, yet lacks virtually all the characteristics necessary for heroes to succeed. Cleverness, wit, courage, and strength are all virtually absent; only in virtue it can be argued that he does not falter. His wife is a direct foil ...
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... to its modern day relevance. The presentation of an unorthodox, incompetent, and static protagonist sorely lacking in qualities that are characteristic of traditional heroes is complemented by the harsh reality of its ending. The virtually omnipresent symbolism and foreshadowing throughout the tale adds to the tragic effect of this ending. These aspects of the tale arguably serve a major purpose of promoting self-awareness about the futility of greed and the long, painful path awaiting to drag along those who fall victim to such an ideology. As resources are extracted and discarded at an alarming rate and at the expense of the planet on which we live, such a lifestyle is unsustainable. In a world where the scarcity of resources is becoming matched by the scarcity of humility, the overarching theme of greed and its potential consequences has reached maximal relevance.
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