(7/15/04 8:12 pm)
If you needed to explain fairy tales...|
What is the most "important" fairy tale of all time, and why?
(7/17/04 6:54 am)
What an intruiging question... Hands down for me is Donkeyskin.
I first read a "clean" version where the king involved
was a rather ambiguous character. A little later, I discovered a
version where the daughter's need to flee her father was much clearer.
This story helped save my life, figuratively speaking. I NEEDED
to know that there was the possibilty of survival; that a helpless
girl, if she were brave and clever and persevered, could win out
in the end. It was never hard for me to imagine terrible, evil,
cruel parents; it was hard to believe that I could survive and remain
sane. Many fairy tales hold the kernel of the idea that the perpetual
underdog can and will triumph through their own good qualities.
In the "real" world I inhabited, I had no validation for
that concept, except in stories. In my practical experience, adults
weilded all the power, and the ones who could have aided me, didn't.
I read my copy of Donkeyskin to tatters- it had more real power
for me than anything I can describe. I outlived the vile king who
ruled with an iron fist in my personal kingdom. He's been dead fifteen
years now. The secret that they never tell you in the story is that
the king can never really be dead enough, but that you can live
with that. I can't recall who said it, but a writer once said that
the value of the fairy tale isn't that they tell you dragons exist,
but that dragons can be defeated.
(7/21/04 12:14 am)
Re: define important|
I don't know if this will help you or not. It seems natural that
different tales resonate with different people--I've always been
drawn to the Goosegirl,
partly because of the evocative, slightly eerie parts of it (the
handkerchief with three drops of blood on it, the talking head of
poor Falada), and partly because (of course) I identify with it.
The main character starts out as a nice, sheltered girl who is easily
pushed around when taken out of the familiar place and surroundings
of her life, but who proves, after all, to be tenacious and resourceful,
and who survives to claim her happy ending. This is my personal
and non-scholarly reading--I'm sure others see the tale in different
Outside of this discussion group, though, how many people even know of this story? I can hardly claim that it has widespread or universal importance, or more importance than any other story.
(9/11/04 2:04 pm)
little red riding hood|
Best Fairy tale? Little
red riding hood? its seems to suggest a pathway or a journey
in life which we can all identify with. The story starts with a
very comforting setting of a family home (our beginning), goes on
a journey and meet the wolf (danger) she doesn't avoid it and gets
gobbled up. The Grannies house could be seen as Old age, an older
version of Red Riding Hood. Being eaten by the wolf could be seen
as a metaphor for rape its such an obviously moralistic tale of
don't talk to strangers, but it kind of makes sense.
(9/11/04 2:45 pm)
dragons, Mother Holle|
[[ I can't recall who said it, but a writer once said that the value of the fairy tale isn't that they tell you dragons exist, but that dragons can be defeated. ]]
I think Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien all said that. Probably it's
in Lewis's OF
OTHER WORLDS and Tolkien's
long essay on fairy tales.
My own personal resonance tale has always been Mother
Holle. I loved the floating down to a peaceful world, where
no one is chasing or pushing you, and leisurely kindness is rewarded....
I didn't like it that the heroine went back home, tho.
(9/11/04 3:30 pm)
It was Chesterton who said the thing about dragons.
It's probably impossible to name the most important fairytale, but
for me, the top two have always been Beauty
and the Beast and The Snow Queen. These tales illustrate the
transformative powers of love, courage and understanding; they teach
us that visions can be deceiving and that there is more than one
way of seeing.
(9/12/04 8:22 am)
favorite fairy tales|
Beauty and the Beast
and Donkeyskin were
my two favorites growing up. Beauty had to see the good man under
the beast's visage, and the prince in Donkeyskin needed to discover
the princess beneath her dirty rags. That spoke to me - the idea
that someone who loves you can see past the surface, see you as
you really are. I know there are different ways to interpret the
tales than that, but that's what made me love them as a kid.
Re: Little Red Riding Hood
in versions older than Perrault's, she doesn't get eaten by the wolf, she's clever and escapes.
(9/14/04 7:59 pm)
Re: favorite fairy tales|
i think, as far as important, that "The Lindorm" is pretty spectacular. It's two tales in one, and the resourceful girl saves not only herself and her husband, but a stranger as well...
i think it also depends on who the tale is for, why it's being told, and whether it's for entertainment, education, healing, or all of the above...
(9/18/04 5:11 pm)
Re: favorite fairy tales|
As Erica says, different stories will resonate with different people, depending on their needs. AS a male, I suspect this is easier for women to answer than men, since, and this is my own personal perspective of course, most fairy tales seem directed at the needs of girls rather than boys -- and, even as I say this, I realize that many of them, even if the protagonist is female, can be generalized to any child, male or female (for example, a story like "The Ugly Duckling")
For me personally, the story that meant the most to me as a child
was "Hansel and
Gretel", for a number of reasons: 1) I have a twin sister;
2) both of us were separated from our parents at an early age and
put in a foster home. So, the story of 2 children taken out and
abandoned to the strange, dark world and left to find there own
way, had a particular resonance for us. We were introduced to this
story by our foster mother, who also took us to see a film version
of the story, which rendered it particularly intense. She also introduced
us to the story of the ugly duckling, who was pushed out of his
familiar home for not fitting in and eventually discovered his true
nature among his own kind.
These stories helped us to deal with numerous issues related to the fact of early childhood separation and self-acceptance.
(9/19/04 10:54 pm)
Re: favorite fairy tales|
[[ We were introduced to this story by our foster mother, who also took us to see a film version of the story, which rendered it particularly intense. She also introduced us to the story of the ugly duckling, who was pushed out of his familiar home for not fitting in and eventually discovered his true nature among his own kind. ]]
That sounds like a wise thing for the foster mother to do. What about all the wicked stepmothers in fairy tales? Did you relate those to the foster mother? How did she deal with that issue?
(9/24/04 6:08 pm)
Re: favorite fairy tales|
Yes, it wasn't until much later that I appreciated what she had been doing during those hours when we lay on either side of her as she turned the pages and read those stories to us.
As for the "wicked step-mothers", I think we associated
them with our real mother, who had, at least in our minds, rejected
us. Most of the stories that featured the wicked step-mother seemed
to deal with girls' issues. And the stories that most resonated
with us were the stories of maternal separation, or exile and return.
For example, "Bambi" whose mother dies in the forest fire;
and when we saw Disney's "Dumbo"
the scene where Dumbo is separated from his mother had us wailing.
In the "Hansel and
Gretel" story, the witch, who lures the children with her
candy-covered house, and fattens Hansel up in order to eat him,
we associated with the mother, who supposedly abandoned the children
because she couldn't afford to feed them, and then set upon them
to eat them herself. And the fact of their crossing the water on
the backs of swans as a metaphor for being saved by a beneficent
Yes, I think she knew what she was doing....and I regret that I never directly gave her credit for her wisdom.