(4/12/05 10:31 am)
Children treated as adults|
Being a mother of three children, I can confidently say that even if we assume the "concept of childhood is relatively recent", being treated as a young adult does not make a child a young adult. Their inexperience and innocence makes them something quite different, and naturally, will make their impressions of adult tales something different than an adult's take. One might assume a child overhearing an adult tale will come away with almost an entirely different take on the same story.
Take the story of Hansel and Gretel for example. The child will automatically relate to the hardships of the children, but may not understand the conflict of the parents - even if the child is poor and starving. We as adults can understand the combined relief of the parents no longer having to support the older children, and the horror of having to let them go with the hope they might make it on their own. We can understand the need of the children to return to the place they were so recently ousted from even if there is no real security there - so can a child, but they may not understand the risk that they will once again be abandoned upon their return or what actions might have been required to allow the children a secure home once more. Often in this tale the step-mother has died before the return of the children (perhaps from starvation and illness?), which allows the children to return. Will children understand the step-mother's survival instinct? Or a debate by adult women of what they might do in a similar circumstance?
Just some thoughts.