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.