Essay about History of Fairy Tales within Victorian Society

Essay about History of Fairy Tales within Victorian Society

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Puritans viewed fairy tales as inappropriate literature because they believed fairy tales to be a form of witchcraft. The attitude toward fairy tales soon changed when the Brothers Grimm published their two-volume collection called Kinderund Hausmarchen or German Popular Stories. Overnight, fairy tales became an acceptable form of literature. This sudden popularity raises some related questions: What are the reasons behind the increased popularity of fairy tales? What function did fairy tales play in Victorian society? Is there a connection between fairy tales and the Victorian social issues? This paper will examine the discourse of fairy tales through a historical lens to reveal how the literary form shaped Victorian society. Fairy tales were the first poetic literature that became a part of people’s lives. For the majority of the population, fairy tales left deep and lasting childhood impressions. Although fairy tales provides warm, comfortable, and entertaining moments, they did not establish themselves as a viable literary form in Victorian England. In England, fairy tales seemed to have gone into hiding opposite to what was happening in Germany and France. The French fairytales came from the oral traditions of French peasants which were edited to not offend the aristocracy. Later, French fairy tales became a way for wealthy women to practice and improve their speech and to discuss morality and manners. German fairy tales were used to create a national identity and unite a divided country than as entertainment for the privileged.
The suppression of Victorian fairy tales was due to the “social enforcement of the Puritan cultural code” (Zipes XIII) because there was an emphasis on...

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...f the egocentric characters to reveal social conflicts and contradictions” (Zipes 285). The Christ-like figure is represented by the statue of the Happy Prince that stands high above the city. The position of the statue is a direct criticism toward the British aristocracy hiding behind their throne, preventing the sadness and inequalities of society to enter the Palace; “did not know what tears were, for lived in the Palace, where sorrow is not allowed to enter” (Zipes 289). Sitting above the city allowed the Happy Prince to “see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city” (Zipes 289) and to utilize the gold and jewels from his statue to improve the lives of the poor. Wilde’s “The Happy Prince” exposed the domination and exploitation of the working class and giving them a voice to demand the end of the industrial revolution’s destructive effects.

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