Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happily Every Afters

Aaron and I have been reading quite a few fairy tales recently. As a grown up, I'm now wondering why these stories with plots involving theft/manslaughter (Jack and the Beanstalk), murder (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) and kidnapping (Hansel and Gretel) are such old favorites. Perhaps its because there sometimes is a moral to be learned at the end. However, these stories are usually told to young children that don't question the behavior and so the grown ups may not need to address the darker themes. The happily-ever-afters at the end resolve any of the tensions that a child might feel.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not keeping Aaron away from fairy tales. We love them! When I'm in the mood, I do try to talk about whats right or wrong in the stories.

The one that I seem to have most issues with is actually 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. The beans led Jack to the giant's home. He then broke into the home, stole from the giant and in the end killed him! Is that not a violent story? Jack and his mother may have lived happily ever after but what about the giant's wife?

As a child, my favorite was 'The Princess and the Pea'. I have no idea why. Maybe it was the easiest way to marry a prince. The other ways involved lots of hard work and a fairy godmother (Cinderella), dying (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty) or kissing a frog (The Frog Prince).

Two of my least favorite ones are 'The Little Mermaid' and 'The Little Match Girl'. The Disney version of 'The Little Mermaid' has a happily-ever-after but thirty years ago, my little Ladybird book had the mermaid going up to the heavens. While I only disliked 'The Little Mermaid', because of the ending, I can honestly say that I hated the story of 'The Little Match Girl'. After the first time, I never wanted it read to me and I never read it again. A story about a little girl who died selling matches in the cold is not exactly a comforting story to go to bed with. I saw the story in a new book that somebody gave Aaron but I haven't read it to him yet.

For tonight, I'll be going to bed with the name 'Dummling' in my head. In case you've forgotten, its from 'The Golden Goose'.

Over to you now, which fairy tales did you like or dislike?

1 comment:

Mike said...

I don't know that I ever had a favorite tale. If I did those thoughts are long gone.

But I had never heard of the match girl. Sooooo, off to wikipedia where they analyse the heck out of it. Same for Jack and the bean stalk. Seems most of these tales have morphed a lot over the centuries.