Historical scholars, patriots, and entertainers of an accidental nature: all have been used to describe Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the two German brothers who, in the 19th century, dedicated much of their lives to the collection and publication of folk-tales in an attempt to help define the cultural identity of their country. The entertainment value of this collection was probably not considered at the time of its origination, especially by the collectors themselves, whose main motivation was a sense of “nationalism and Romanticism” (Hallett, xvii). Yet, nearly two hundred years later, it is impossible to ignore the influence that the Brothers Grimm have had on the modern “fairy tale” as a form of entertainment, evident in the presence of some element of a Grimm tale in nearly every aspect of children’s literature, and the adaptation, albeit in a skewed form, of the brothers’ stories by entertainment giants such as Disney.
When considering that the initial purpose of the Brothers Grimm was not simply to entertain, but to impart a sense of the German life and its origins, we are impelled to examine the purpose and contribution of each individual story to its authors’ overall objective. While not overtly presenting a moral, characteristic of the Aesop and Perrault tales, the Grimms’ tales nonetheless inherently carried with them a significant didactic aspect. In the tale “Rapunzel”, we are presented with characters who are slaves to their selfish desires, or, conversely, to the desires of others, and it is only through the growth brought about by a long and painful catharsis do some characters find redemption, while others who remain a servant of desire fin...
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...ing off our desires, is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.” Instead we must realize that the warning in the story is one against disregarding the rules of society and that of family, from both the child and parental point of view, lest we, too, fall from a tower. This holds as true today as it did nearly two hundred years ago, once upon a time.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. “Rapunzel.” Folk and Fairy tales. Eds., Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek. Ontario: Broadview press, 2002. 67-70
Hallett, Martin and Barbara Karasek, eds. Folk and Fairy Tales, 3rd ed.
Ontario: Broadview press, 2002.
Sexton, Anne. “Rapunzel. ”Transformations. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1971.
Zipes, Jack. Victorian Fairytales: The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves. New York: n.p., 1987. Google Books. Taylor and Francis Group. Web. 03 Apr. 2015.
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