(11/12/02 2:02:52 pm)
| Suggestions Please: Benefits of Fairy Tales against Violence|
I would appreciate it if someone would be so kind as to express their opinions on the relationship between violence and fairy tales,more specifically the aptitude of fairy tales in easing inner struggle. Thank You.
(11/13/02 12:31:04 am)
| fairy tales and violence|
This is a topic that particularly interests me, and I've published a few essays on this subject, discussing the importance of fairy tales for children from violent homes and for the healing journey afterwords. The latest, if you're interested, is in Kate Bernheimer's wonderful book: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Authors Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales (Anchor/Random House, 2002 edition). If family violence is one of the issues you're looking at, you might also be interested in The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood's Survivors which I edited for Tor Books (1995). The book is out of print now, but used copies are pretty easy to find -- on Amazon.com or on used book sites like abe.com.
I recommend Ellen Steiber's essay on the fairy tale Brother and
Sister, which was originally published in The Armless Maiden and
can now be found on-line at: www.endicott-studio.com/forbrsis.html.
Also her poem Silver and Gold addresses a similar subject: www.endicott-studio.com/cofsilgo.html.
If you're interested in fairy tales and violence from a Jungian perspective, Gertrude Mueller Nelson's book Here All Dwell Free: Stories to Heal the Wounded Feminine is good. She discusses Briar Rose and The Girl With No Hands (a variant of The Armless Maiden), among other tales.
(11/13/02 7:57:36 am)
| Thank You Mrs. Windling; Attached is a prelim. paper.|
Thank You Mrs. Windling, your input is valuable, and I will soon go on a quest to find the sources you have recommended. Attached is a preliminary essay I have written, that you may find interesting.
Patrick T. Collins
12 November 2002
Once Upon A Time... :
A Paradox of Violence and Fairy Tales
Once upon a time there were two brothers by the name of Grimm who lived in the land of Germany who spent their days anthologizing local folklore for the sake of preservation, and consequently produced a timeless entity, the fairy tale. It has been and is the fairy tale on which the youthful intellect first feeds and digests into the inner sanctums of the subconscious mind, and assimilates into a model for behavior. It is musical artist Billy Joel’s masterpiece “We Didn’t Start the Fire” that conveys the vibrancy and chaos that characterizes the human race, as an intangible force incessantly bent on creating men through experiences. That intangible force may very well be the fairy tale. What literature can foster hatred, violence, love, creativity, and morality as well as the common fairy tale?
The Brothers Grimm created literary masterpieces as an artistic enlightenment, and it is reader who has interpreted them like a Wagnerian opera, reflective of the violent struggle of existence. It is to this end that fairy tales have doomed some men to violence, and others to madness. When Freudian psychologists try to interpret a symbolism behind fairy tales, it is evidence of misinterpretation and blindness. However, the implication that fairy tales may incite violence is presumably probable. What is it that causes the antagonist in Bruce Shapiro’s One Violent Crime to inadvertently maliciously assault a plethora of unsuspecting victims who in his eyes lack innocence? Maybe some of the roots of that type of violence can be traced to the advent of the fairy tale. Upon the conclusion of the Second World War, Allied Commanders had banned the publication of all Grimm tales in Germany, in the belief that they had contributed to Nazi savagery. During the war, social theorists of the Third Reich fabricated Little Red Riding Hood as a symbol Germany, free of the Jewish Wolf. In the 1970’s fairy tales were scorned for promoting a sexist and authoritarian worldview and perspective. In Germany the proclamation “Madness Comes From Fairy Tales” was scrawled on walls across the country (“Guardians” 3). In time, fairy tales were in the firm grasp of social and political ideologies around the globe. New sanitized adaptations of the Grimm’s fairy tales could not have deviated further from the originals, not only was all violence removed, the plots were altered to satiate a demand for morally-conditioning fairy tales. In literature, the latter is a serious crime and breach of artistic etiquette, especially when the new product undermines all originals. It is a paradox unrivaled, that fairy tales, having such benign and moral intentions, have exhibited amoral results. Violence borne unto a child as a fairy tale, may emerge as an adult in reality.
It would be irrational to believe that fairy tales emit only negative results; it is their morality and aptitude for enlightenment that draws the majority of readers. Fairy tales “fire” children’s “moral imaginations” by showing them how other children risk everything “for the sake of something good” (“Why Kids” 1). However, it is a common misconception that fairy tales are only for those of a youthful age, they may be advantageous to all. Consider “The Well of the World’s End” a tale collected by Joseph Jacobs that conveys a universal truth impactful on all ages, that beauty runs deeper than the skin, metaphorically speaking. To many readers, the fairy tale functions as an uplifting and enlightening piece, written in an expressive and stimulating manner and of a quaint length. For most, it is the enlightening aspect that draws them to the fantastical realms of the commonplace fairy tale.
The realm of fairy-story is wide and
deep and high and filled with many
things: all manner of beasts and birds
are found there; shoreless seas and stars
uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment,
and an ever present peril; both joy and
sorrow as sharp as swords (Tolkien 3).
It is this duplicity that teaches morality and enlists creativity in a positive perspective. Fairy tales are instrumental in relieving depression and melancholy, as they are the ultimate form of escape fiction, providing an outlet for those struggling to get on. The loss of a loved one is less painful under the mellow warmth of a good fairy tale ( I personally had resorted to fairy tales in that situation). The aptitude of fairy tales in portraying a utopian realm composed of morality and perfection serves as a model for society to strive towards.
It is the multiplicity of motifs that mark a fairy tale, and give it an otherworldly vibrancy and passion. Life is a twisted road, and the fairy tale merely reflects that image in a way that all men can relate to, for better or worse. The fairy tale inspires rage, creativity, hatred, love, passion, jealousy, and all the other constants of life, but the fairy is best read as an art form, not a recipe for life.
“Guardians of the Fairytale: The Brothers Grimm.” National
Geographic Dec. 1999: 3. EBSCO. SHS Lib.,
Salamanca, NY. 6 Nov. 2002.
Jacobs, Joseph., ed. “The Well of the World’s End.” English                         Fairy Tales. New York: Dover Publications,
Joel, Billy. “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” River of Dreams.
Shapiro, Bruce. “One Violent Crime.”         The Norton Reader. Shorter 10th Edition. Eds. Linda Peterson,
John Brereton, Joan Hartman. New York: Norton, 2000. 10-14.
Tolkien, J.R.R. “On Fairy-Stories.” The Tolkien Reader.
New York: Ballantine. 1966. 3-4.
“Why Kids Need(And Want) Fairy Tales” Alberta Report. Oct.
1998: 1. EBSCO. SHS Lib., Salamanca, NY.
6 Nov. 2002. www.EBSCO.com/
(11/14/02 7:50:49 am)
| Threat of the Jewish wolf v Third Reich as Red Riding Hood|
Does the discussion group have other examples of such powerful political use of fairy tale imagery?