(12/10/01 8:18:00 pm)
Hmmm..Karen, I think of the notion of "evil" as something theologically very bad...but in fairy tales, in the realm of fantasy it's a bit more nuanced. The fantastic seems to contain rather than "good" and "evil" possibilities "destructive" or "creative" possibilites--depending on what a character needs at any given point in the tale. Trickster sometimes comes off as wholely destructive, but out of his negative acts quite often come the roots of creations. A hero encounters a swallowing monster, or a transformation that metaphorically kills him (an angry sorcerer turning him into an eland, a stag, a statue) ...but it also marks the end journey of his rite of passage--and when followed by his resuce or resurrection, (usually at the hands of a fantastic helper, or magical bride) that destructive act has allowed for the rebirth of adult hero. So it might be more helpful to think in terms of dialectics--rather than exclusively good versus evil.
Which isn't to say that some acts aren't violent, cruel and unspeakable: a father cuts off his daughter's arms when she refuses to have sex with him. Another father tries to force his daughter into marrying him. The tales try to evoke a strong emotional impact on the audience--it is afterall a way to engage completely the listener---but it also sets into motion the young woman's rite of passage in the narrative, her initiation and her return as an adult. And because in exogamous societies girls marry away from home, it also creates a narrative reason for why the girl can never go home. So it's not just a surface image that might signify "evil"--but part of a dynamic dialectical movement developed in the structure of the narrative to reproduce the transformation of the child to adult.
It might help your research if you narrowed it to one or two tales out of Grimms--say "Fitcher's Bird" or any of the "Armless Maiden" versions. You will find a lot of research and thought given to select narratives that might be more useful to you.