Thursday, December 6, 2012

BGC Reflection

This service-learning project was a very satisfying and fun experience.  Getting to teach early elementary school students about what we have learned about fairy tales was a great experience. I learned a lot from this opportunity by seeing the fairy tales from the eyes of a young child. By teaching these children, I was able to understand how a younger child would interpret the Grimm fairy tales. As a child, I was only familiar with the Disney versions of these fairy tales and I had not read most of the actual Grimm fairy tales until this year, as a college student. I had already learned a lot in class, but I was unable to see how a child would understand the tale. The tales we chose to teach the children were meant to be read to children. I think it is important to fully realize how children can interpret these tales. For example, the “Golden Key” leaves the ending up for the reader to decide. As a college student, I would have appreciated actually reading an entire tale, rather than coming up with my own. However, the children at the Boys and Girls club were thrilled to come up with their own fairy tales. They could not have been more excited to make up a story on their own.

            This project was much better than a final exam. I liked that it allowed for some creativity in what we could choose to do with the children. It was also very hands-on, which was great. Rather than reiterating the same thoughts and interpretations that we’ve been talking about all semester, this gave us an opportunity to apply our knowledge in a real-world setting. This project was probably a bit more challenging, since we not only had to know about the tales, but we had to adapt our knowledge to communicate an abridged, but still educational lesson. It was harder to decide what was appropriate and would be interesting to children that young, and also teach them something new. This project really required us to apply the information we’ve learned in a whole new format, which was challenging and fun.

            This project did have some difficulties, though. One of the main issues our group encountered was the size of the group of children. It varied quite a bit, and sometimes the groups simply were not divided up evenly. The first week, we had five children, which was a great size. The second week, we had ten followed by three the next week. That same week the other group had eight children, making the groups very uneven. The last week we had five children, which was once again very good. While the Boys and Girls club cannot control how many children show up on any given day, the different sizes of the groups was difficult to plan for. In retrospect, it would have been better for us to have planned activities for large groups and small groups. Some of our activities were easily adapted, like the play we had them act out for Hansel and Gretel. We only had to make up roles on the spot when we had a large group of children. However, our jumping jacks activity the next week would have worked much better with a larger number of children, and we had to cut it short. We discovered that it was better to over-plan, than to hope that our activities took the time we thought they would. When we had more activities than necessary, then we could always skip something if one activity did not pan out.

            Another difficulty was behavioral problems. For the most part, the Boys and Girls club staff would be there to help if a child was not cooperating. It was still difficult for us to make the children focus sometimes. This definitely could have been fixed in retrospect by planning more active activities. As tired college students, I think it was easy for us to want them to do quieter activities, like draw. However, the children often had more fun when they could get up and do something, even if it were as simple as acting out “Hansel and Gretel”. As for motivating them to stay on task, we used candy as bribes. It was a fairly effective way of getting the children to listen to us, because we could threaten not to give them candy at the end.

            The only advice I would have for future service-learning project students is to really focus on planning more activities than you would think you need. It is hard to budget time with these activities, because some take a lot longer than others. Also, because the children were not the same each week, it is difficult to know ahead what they will like. Some groups loved to draw and some groups loved to get up to do activities. Therefore, it is important that you have a detailed, varied plan before you go, and that you plan one extra activity than you’ll think you need. Then, you will not be caught off guard when you run out of things to do with the children.

            I think if I were to do this project again, I would definitely plan more, from a preparation stand point.  As was already stated, plans were crucial to being successful. Even with good plans, one cannot predict how the time will go, which is why it’s important to have more activities than necessary. However, on the project overall, it would be nice to have larger groups of children. Perhaps by splitting up the groups over a longer period of time would be more beneficial, because the groups would be a bit larger and therefore a bit easier to work with.

            Overall, this project has been beneficial in my opinion. It was definitely fun, but also educational for me. I learned a lot more about children and got to see the material from their perspective. It was challenging to make sure everything was age appropriate while still being interesting. Working in a group made the project easier because you could work together to come up with really creative ideas. The group could then get to interact more closely with the students because there were four of us, and we could split our time between the children. That individual time is when I learned the most about their different ideas and opinions about the fairy tales. This is where I learned the most throughout this project. The project was a great experience and I would gladly do it again.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Look Back

After reviewing all of my blogs, I am satisfied with the work I have completed this semester.  I am proud to be able to analyze fairy tales in pop culture, especially.  I grew up with Disney movies, and these stories are much more prevalent in American culture than the Grimm Brothers’ tales.  When I see these movies now, I understand their origins more and can watch them more discriminately. I understand the changes that Walt Disney made, like the more involved male roles. In Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the prince plays a much larger role than in the Grimm tales. He is responsible for saving the princess, which is very different from the original tales. In the Grimm versions, it is more of a coincidence that he is present when the princesses wake up. I am now able to see these differences and realize that Disney made these changes to reflect his own propaganda. Many women say that Disney has raised their expectations of men to a point where they cannot be fulfilled. I believe now, because of this class, that Disney has made women lower their expectations of themselves instead. Disney wanted to portray male dominance in his movies, and as an educated viewer, I am more able to see that.

                Additionally, I am excited that I can more accurately view references to these tales in pop culture. Political cartoons are rather easy to understand at first glance, because their allusions are generally fairly obvious. Although the point they are making is more obscure, most people could probably pick out what fairy tale they come from. However, I think that I am more able because of my studies to understand the complete context of these cartoons. More impressively, I am able to see fairy tale stories and motifs in less obvious forms of media. For example, after recently viewing Silence of the Lambs in class, I am able to see the Little Red Riding Hood storyline. This is definitely not obvious unless one has studied fairy tales in depth. Relating Clarice to Little Red Riding Hood and Cannibal to the wolf is not an obvious connection, but the connection definitely exists.

                Overall, I am pleased with the knowledge that I have gained this semester. This class has given me a whole new appreciation for the fairy tales I heard as a child and a different viewpoint on the movies I see.  I have now have a more discriminating opinion of the very popular Disney movies, and do not have to be encircled by Disney’s appropriation.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Let Down Your Hair


                The Grimm Brothers’ Rapunzel tale is extremely famous. Everyone knows the story of the girl that is locked in a tower by a witch. The only way in or out of the tower is by climbing Rapunzel’s long hair. The witch visits frequently and calls “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”. One day a prince comes, and calls up the same thing. He climbs up and the two fall in love. The Grimm version goes a bit farther, and later Rapunzel accidentally slips up and tells the witch that she is much heavier than the prince. The witch cuts her hair and sends her away. She then waits for the prince to come back and lures him up, letting him think that Rapunzel is still there. When he finds the witch and learns that Rapunzel is not there, he throws himself off the tower. He is blinded by thorns at the bottom, and starts to wander around aimlessly. He eventually finds Rapunzel by accident, and the two live happily ever after with their two children. The Grimm ending is generally not as well known, although the tale itself is very famous.

This cartoon is a spoof on how unrealistic the tale is. Although fairy tales are not meant to be taken literally, the cartoon brings out the absurdity in the situation. It would be impossible to grow your hair out long enough to fall from a tower. Likewise, it would be extraordinarily painful to allow someone to climb up your hair. The idea of hair extensions is funny in regards to this fairy tale, because obviously the extensions would not be able to hold someone. The cartoon is also poking fun at the idea of beauty. Rapunzel appears to be naturally beautiful with her long hair, but once her beauty is tested, it does not hold up. One can try to make oneself beautiful by putting using fake things, like hair extensions. But, at the end of the day, natural beauty is more valuable. The prince can be attracted to her long hair, but her extensions ruin their possible relationship because they are not the same as actual hair.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bluebeard, The Robber Bridegroom and Fitcher's Bird

                “The Robber Bridegroom”, “Fitcher’s Bird” and “Bluebeard” are all fairy tales with similar storylines. In each one, a young bride arrives at her husband or soon-to-be-husband’s house. There, she is greeted with a cruel reality in which the husband has murdered many other women. Through her own wit, she is able to escape, and the husband is killed in the end. “Fitcher’s Bird” and “Bluebeard” are the most similar, as the young bride is given a set of keys to every room in the house and told that she can enter any room except one. Of course, the bride investigates this room at the first opportunity and finds bodies of many other former wives. She is shocked and drops an object that she was given (a key in “Bluebeard” and an egg in “Fitcher’s Bird”) and it is stained with blood and therefore is evidence of her disobedience. Her husband comes home and asks for this object back and discovers that she has not followed his instructions. He is very angry and wants to kill her. This is where the two stories divert from each other. In “Bluebeard”, the bride asks for some time to pray and is granted a short period. She uses this time to send her sister to watch for her brothers’ arrival and signal them to hurry up. Bluebeard begins to kill her, but does not succeed as her brothers show up and save the day. However, in “Fitcher’s Bird”, the bride is killed and the sorcerer marries the second sister. The outcome of this marriage is identical, and so he marries the third and youngest daughter. She outsmarts him by keeping the egg safely in her room while she explores the forbidden chamber. Then, she decorates a skull and puts it in the tower of the castle, so that it appears to be her looking out. She effectively tricks the sorcerer, and escapes. Her brothers then come to kill the sorcerer and all of his evil cronies. These two tales are very similar but contain slight differences. For example, Bluebeard is a man with a blue beard, which is strange. However, it does not give him any special powers. The husband in “Fitcher’s Bird” is actually a sorcerer. Both stories contain magical objects, like the key and the egg, which cannot be cleaned of the blood from the forbidden chamber. These objects make sense when the groom is a sorcerer, but they are a bit surprising in “Bluebeard”.

                “The Robber Bridegroom”, while similar to these stories, diverts quite a bit. A young woman is promised to a man, and he insists that she should visit his house in the woods before the wedding. She follows a trail of ashes that he leaves her and sprinkles peas on the ground on either side to ensure her way back. She then arrives to an empty house and finds an old woman who tells her to hide. As soon as she is hidden from view, her betrothed arrives with a band of robbers and they have a young woman with them. They kill the young woman and cook her in a stew. When the robbers are asleep, the old woman and the young bride escape and follow the trail of peas home. The robber comes to marry the girl the next day, and at the wedding she tells the story of what happened the previous night. The robber is killed, along with his comrades. This story is different from the previous two, because the girl did not disobey her fiancée outright. She was not tested the way that the other two heroines were. However, like the other two, she saves herself and causes the fiancée to get what he deserves.

                I liked “Bluebeard” the best out of all three tales. In the first two tales, I liked the test aspect of the story, when the brides are told not to enter a certain room.  However, I did not like that the first two sisters were killed in “Fitcher’s Bird”, mostly because the next sister always saw their bodies in the chamber. I found this to be a bit too gruesome for me. I also thought that the bride in Bluebeard was very clever by asking for a few minutes to pray before he kills her.  She was able to use this time effectively to save herself, although she sustained a few injuries before her brothers arrived. Overall, all the aspects of these stories that I liked, like the test, were in “Bluebeard”.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frog King vs. Cupid and Psyche

The Grimm Brothers’ “Frog King” talks about a beautiful princess who asks a favor of a frog she sees. She drops her golden ball down a well, and the frog retrieves it for her. However, the frog makes the princess promise to make him her companion. She agrees in her moment of desperation, but later leaves without fulfilling her promise. The frog, though, is not deterred her initial rejection and interrupts the royal family’s dinner. Her father, hearing of his daughter’s actions, forces her to make the frog her companion. That evening, as the frog wants to sleep in her bed with her, she throws him across the room. He magically turns into an attractive king, and the two get married.

                In Lucius Apuleius’ “Cupid and Psyche”, there is also a beautiful princess. Her beauty, however, puts her on Venus’ bad side. Cupid is supposed to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous monster, but accidently shoots himself with the arrow. Therefore, Psyche and Cupid fall in love. Eventually, Psyche marries Cupid, but never sees him, as he only comes in at night. Her sisters advise her to secretly light a lantern with which to see him and discern if he is a monster. If he was a monster, Psyche had a knife to cut off his head. Psyche does this, and accidently awakes Cupid, he is angry that she has done this, as he did not wish for her to see him. He banishes her, causing her to seek help from other gods. Eventually, she seeks Venus’ help and is forced to do many difficult tasks. Other gods help her complete these tasks and Venus is always dissatisfied. Finally, Cupid asks Zeus for permission to continue his marriage to Psyche; a marriage frowned upon by Venus. His request is granted and he is able to save Psyche from her own curiosity a second time.

                In both tales, there is a princess is whose beauty is far greater than that of anyone else. In both stories, she promises herself or is promised to a husband that she cannot truly see. In the “Frog King”, the princess rejects the frog/her future husband, but is forced to comply by her father. In “Psyche and Cupid”, Psyche is lured into looking at her husband by her sisters.  However, both princesses like their male counterparts and fall in love. Psyche is initially banished from Cupid for her curiosity, but eventually their marriage works out. The Frog King and the princess marry right away in the Grimm tale.  The Psyche story has many more conflicts than the Grimm version, but it is also a different type of tale. The Grimm tale is obviously a fairy tale, and it is meant to be short and simple. The Roman myth is longer and much more complicated. It contains no repetition or magical numbers, as are characteristic of the fairy tale. The intended audience is supposed to know the identity of the gods involved and other myths. The fairy tale audience is not required to have heard any other tales in order to understand the full implications of the tale. Both tales have lessons involved and happy endings, which give them somewhat similar structures. Overall, both stories have similarities in the content and structure, even though they are from separate genres.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood

                This cartoon, that uses Little Red Riding Hood as a theme, is depicting a police investigation. The police are asking the wolf who committed a crime. The wolf’s response is what really makes up the satirical nature of this social cartoon. The wolf describes the perpetrator was carrying a suspicious package and wearing a hoodie. This description is pretty vague, but Little Red Riding Hood is lying a few feet away, as if showing that she is taken as the perpetrator, even though she is a little, innocent girl. She was evidently proven to be a suspect based on a stereotypical, vague description. On a broad level, the cartoon is depicting the tendency of judging that people are guilty based on a loose description unless they are proven to be innocent. This tends to be a social practice in modern day society, since the media often indicts suspects with very little evidence against them.

                I personally find this social cartoon very clever. Although it does not require much knowledge of the fairy tale, nor does it accurately depict the Grimm version, the cartoon is very ironic and witty. I appreciate the use of the protagonist in the fairy tale as the suspect and how justice has already seemed to be served to her. She is a little girl in the common version of the tale, and yet she was indicted without anything other than a questionable description at best. The juxtaposition of the wolf as a reliable witness is also very intelligent, as it shows the harsh nature of our modern day attitudes. We are willing to believe that anyone is guilty based on very questionable evidence, unless we have evidence that they are innocent. In the cartoon, a young, innocent girl is punished based on vague evidence from a source with debatable trustworthiness. I think that it is very intelligently done, as the cartoonist has used a well-known fairy tale and switched the roles of the hero and antihero, but in an effort to display the injustice of our society.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Anne Sexton's Snow White

Anne Sexton’s poem “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is a different take on the popular Grimm tale.  Sexton’s poem loses the timeless element. The poem has many modern day references. For example, the bodice is wrapped “as tight as an ace bandage” and Snow White has eyes “as wide as Orphan Annie”. These references enhance the imagery in the reader’s mind, since these images are references that the modern reader understands. However, this infusion of pop culture adds a modern element to the old fairy tale. The poem is told as a lesson, as the author says “Beauty is a simple passion/ but, oh my friends, in the end/ you will dance the fire dance in iron shoes”. The first person interjection gives the reader the feeling that the Sexton is telling us this tale as a lecture. It adds a new spin on the traditional lesson that the Grimms strived to put into their fairytales.  The lesson in the poem comes from the author, not the story itself.  Lastly, Sexton refers to specific times: “on the seventh week” and “the prince came one June day”. An important feature of the Grimm fairy tale is the timelessness. The fairy tale is inspiring because of the idea that it can happen to anyone at any time. The poem loses this feature by referring to specific times and using pop culture references.

                Personally, I prefer the Grimm fairy tale, because of its timelessness. Part of the magic of hearing it is being taken away from your own time and place. The poem, instead, roots you to the present, because it causes you to think about references that come up in your everyday life and the present time.  The Grimm fairy tale carries you away from your on world and allows you to dream about anytime you want: past, present or future. The poem has lost this important feature by talking about specific time frames and using modern day references. Also, I think the poem loses some of the beauty of the tale by showcasing the lesson. To me, the less obvious message in the Grimm tale is preferable because you are able to analyze it on your own. The Anne Sexton poem has an obvious message: vanity ultimately leads to destruction. I prefer the Grimm fairy tale to the more modernize Anne Sexton poem because of its timelessness and subtle message.

                There is one element of the poem that I did like, and that is the ending. In the end, Sexton narrates that Snow White gazes at herself in the mirror. This is not an action that the Grimm Snow White ever completes. Sexton believes in a cyclical version of Snow White, where, in the end, Snow White ends up like her stepmother. She is vain and therefore will eventually succumb to a jealousy that feeds evil. The Grimm tale has a happy ending for Snow White, as she marries the prince and the story ends. Nothing is ever mentioned about her life afterwards. In Sexton’s version, it shows that Snow White cannot escape any unhappiness or evil through marriage, because eventually the cycle will repeat itself and she will become like her evil stepmother.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Snow White

            Between the Grimm fairy tale and the 1937 Disney adaptation of Snow White, there are several important key differences. A major difference is how Snow White is saved from her “death”. In the Grimm version, Snow White nearly dies three times. The queen tricks her first by selling her a stay lace and tying it too tightly. After the dwarfs save her, the queen sells her a poison comb, which kills her when it touches her hair. The dwarfs are also able to save her the second time. The queen then convinces Snow White to eat a poisoned apple, which becomes lodged in her throat. This time the dwarfs cannot save her. They put her in a glass coffin and place it on top of a hill. The prince comes and sees it and falls in love. Eventually, the dwarfs agree to give him Snow White’s body, and the in the process of moving the coffin, it is jostled and the apple is dislodged from her throat. She miraculously wakes up and marries the prince. In this version, the prince hardly plays a role in her rescue from death, and he is merely a supporting character.

                However, in the Disney film, the Prince is introduced early in the story. He falls in love with Snow White, and the Queen gets jealous. Events progress similarly, although Snow White is only tricked once and only eats the poisoned apple. However, now only “true love’s first kiss” can awaken her. The Prince fills this role, and his kiss brings her out of her death-like state. In this version, the Prince is the hero, as his actions are what make the happy ending.

                A key similarity between the two versions is that Snow White keeps the dwarfs’ house for them. While they go out to work, she stays home to cook and clean. However, even in this there are a few minor differences. Her role is exaggerated in the Disney film, as the dwarfs are portrayed as excessively messy and dirty before she comes along. The Grimm tale portrays the dwarfs as capable of taking care of themselves before her arrival.  

                Overall, the Disney version portrays Snow White as belonging in a domestic setting and being entirely dependent on men to save her. Disney made these changes to promote his own ideological beliefs. However, these beliefs were so radical at the time. The film came out in 1937 and in the middle of the Great Depression, most women were the homemakers and the men were trying to earn money.  It also fit with the zeitgeist of the time, since the audience needed to believe in the Prince Charming character. Many men were having trouble providing for their families due to the economic circumstances. Disney’s Snow White showed the audience that men still held a vital role in society and that little girls could dream of a rich, handsome man coming to rescue them from an unfortunate situation. It is still important to note that the message of the film is that women belong in the house, and that was part of Walt Disney’s beliefs. He likely exaggerated the portion of the film where Snow White takes care of the dwarfs to further endorse this lifestyle for a woman.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Uninspiring Cinderella

Cinderella is considered a “rise tale” in which magic and/or marriage causes someone to go from poverty to wealth.  Although, this tale is initially inspiring, the motif does not maintain its hopeful nature upon inspection.

                Firstly, it’s important to note that the idea is somewhat realistically possible. People “marry up” all the time, and it is very possible to find a wealthy man.  This element of the motif is a realistic and possible way to find success.  It is still possible to find your “prince charming”, as Cinderella does. The magical component is much less feasible, since that requires magical birds and trees, according to the Grimm version.  These tend to be extraordinarily difficult to find. Therefore, counting on magic to better your life is not realistic.

                The motif with magic/marriage bringing you from rags to riches is not very inspiring on a whole, though. Cinderella does not achieve her success through any intellectual or physical feat of her own. In the Grimm version, she goes to the tree above her mother’s grave and simply asks it to shower her in riches. Birds respond by throwing her a beautiful dress to wear to the ball. She was so beautiful that the prince immediately liked her. Upon their marriage, Cinderella is able to escape her horrible living situation.  However, Cinderella actually did very little to achieve this success in life. Magic is solely responsible for her beautiful appearance at the ball. Her eventual ascension in living arrangements was the direct consequence of the prince liking her. So, Cinderella’s success was not achieved through any means of her own.  Taking that into account, the story is much less inspiring. It basically teaches that if you want your situation to improve, you are at the mercy of magic and men. You cannot do anything but hope that somehow something will occur that will help you.

 A much better lesson would be that if you try hard enough, you can achieve something better and take yourself out of the bad situation.  Cinderella would be much more inspiring if she did something proactive to help herself. In the Grimm version, she simply asks the tree in desperation for gold and silver, and magic does the rest. As lame as her plea is, it is a step above her actions in the Disney movie. All this Cinderella does is cry about how she does not get to go to the ball and how she cannot try on the glass slipper.  A fairy godmother magically appears and helps her get to the ball, and some mice bring her the key to unlock herself from her room. Neither Cinderella does much of anything to improve her own situation. Had she even told the prince her name, she would have done something to earn her improved situation. Her lack of initiative is what fails to make her an impressive heroine and what makes the motif, though partially realistic, completely uninspiring upon reflection.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hansel and Gretel: MGM vs. Grimm

                One of the biggest changes between the MGM adaptation of “Hansel and Gretel” and the Grimm Brothers version is the role of the mother/stepmother.  In the fairy tale, the stepmother is actively trying to get rid of the children by convincing their father that it is necessary to survive. She is relentless in her attempts to abandon the children as she walks them out into the forest twice.  These actions make her as much of a villain as the witch in the story. She conveniently dies before the children return home, so that they can live happily ever after with their father who actually loves them.

               In the movie, the mother is angry with the children, when they accidently leave the donkey in the house. She sends the children out to pick berries, and they get lost. Immediately, this mother is concerned and feeling extremely guilty. When they return home, she is visibly relieved and it is clear that she loves and had missed the children. The whole family together can now live happily ever after.

                Another major difference is the father’s involvement in the abandonment. In the Grimm fairy tale, he is an active, though somewhat unwilling, participant in leaving the children in the forest. He is then exonerated from the crime by regretting his actions, and he gets to be in the happy ending. However, in the movie, he is away when the children get lost in the forest, and he then searches for them. He finds them after the defeat of the witch and leads them back home.

                These changes are fairly significant in the film, and this leads to different messages. The Grimm tale teaches the reader that women are greedy and often evil. Both of the adult women (the stepmother and the witch) are evil and have bad intentions for the children. It also teaches that men can be exonerated from child abuse and abandonment, because the father lives happily ever after with Hansel and Gretel. With the vast changes that the film made, the messages are completely different. The directors probably chose to make these changes to make the movie more successful in the United States. Parents do not want to pay to take their children to a movie where the parents are badly portrayed. The resulting message is this: women are sometimes forgetful in where they tell their children to pick berries, but men will risk their lives to search for lost children in a forest. This is clearly a completely different message, but one that will probably sell more movie tickets and lead to less nightmares from young viewers.

                It is important to note that there are some similarities in the film and the original tale. The witch is always evil, and the children are always the ones that defeat her through their own cleverness. The main lesson is always intact: you can defeat the evil witch if you try and think hard enough. This lesson is why “Hansel and Gretel” remains a beloved fairy tale. The children are always showcased as the heroes of the story, and if this changed, the premise of the whole story would change.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Definition

A fairy tale is story dealing with magic and imagination that is meant to give the listener hope and help them cope with the world around them.  A major difference between the fairy tale and other tales and legends, is that the fairy tale is meant to help one escape reality. The world that the fairy tale portrays is magical, timeless and definite.

 For example in The Grimm Brothers’ “Brier Rose”, there are wise women that are able to give the princess gifts of beauty, virtue and other such intangible items that cannot be bestowed without magic.  An uninvited woman shows up, however, to curse the princess out of spite. Clearly, these events would be impossible in reality, but they remain unquestioned in the fairy tale.  That type of fantasy is characteristic of a fairy tale, and helps the listener escape the real world into the magical land of the tale.

Timelessness is another very important feature of the fairy tale.  One of the first things that come to mind when one hears the words “fairy tale” is the phrase “once upon a time”.  The tales never give specific dates, because that would take away from the fantasy of the story. The listener might become preoccupied with the historical context or accuracy of the story and not focus on the characters and conflicts. This feature gives hope, because one can always imagine that these events could happen again, and that one’s own life might have a happy ending. An example of this timelessness is how Brier Rose sleeps for a hundred years, and then she awakens to a kiss from her prince. Nothing is really mentioned about the long passage of time, and the listener will imagine her looking, acting and feeling the same way as she was before. This timelessness adds to the magical element of the tale, as well, since the reader has to suspend reality while they hear the tale.

The fairy tale also has a definite feature in its world. Not once in Brier Rose is there ever a mention of the words “maybe”, “perhaps” and “if”. Even when events are foreshadowed, the events then happen exactly as they were predicted. The predictions themselves have specific details, and there is never a question of if something will happen. This helps a young listener understand the world a little better, because there is a clear cause and effect.  Additionally, the fact that the hero or heroine will eventually have a happy ending is never questioned. There will always be a happy ending at the end of each fairy tale, and the listener understands that from the very beginning.

A fairy tale is a story that suspends reality, as its listener must accept its magic, timelessness and definiteness. It takes place in an unspecified location and time, and has a very clearly defined plotline. The tale also incorporates fantastical elements that cause the listener to imagine and forget about reality. Those key elements are what make a fairy tale what it is because they are unique to the genre of the fairy tale.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blog 1: Introduction

                I grew up on a steady diet of peanut butter and jelly and Disney movies. At one point, I knew every line and every lyric to the movies, especially those involving princesses. However, it was not until High School when I read the seventh Harry Potter book, which features the wizarding fairy tale of “The Three Brothers”, that I considered what exactly fairy tales in the real world mean. In this tale, there was a clear moral disguised in a clever tale that parents tell their children. This got me thinking more about the fairy tales I heard as a child and the Disney movies I had memorized.  I soon learned, through a quick Google search, that many of these stories were originally published by the Brothers Grimm. Naturally, I had heard of these brothers, but I had never read any of the original fairy tales. Furthermore, I could not recall a single moral lesson from the movies that I had seen over a hundred times each. So, when I saw the description of this FYS, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to know more.

                I’m mostly hoping to satisfy my curiosity through this FYS, and become a more educated viewer of the Disney classics that I used to love. I’m also excited to examine the lessons that I was unconsciously taught as a young child and think about possible societal implications that occur due to teaching the distorted morals in these movies.

                My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella, and has been since I was a little girl. There is not a very specific reason for this story being my particular favorite. It is probably a combination of being wowed by seeing her castle at Disney World when I was five, and also thinking that we had a lot in common. Occasionally, my older sister and I would argue when I was younger. I thought she was being very bossy, and I liked to imagine that she was an evil stepsister. Now, I realize that Cinderella and I have basically nothing in common, but I had a big imagination when I was little and that scenario was very entertaining.