Study of Fairy Tales
I. AVAILABLE TYPES OF TALES
FROM all this wealth of accumulated folk-material which has come down to us through the ages, we must select, for we cannot crowd the child with all the folk-stuff that folk-lore scientists are striving to preserve for scientific purposes. Moreover, naturally much of it contains the crudities, the coarseness, and the cruelties of primitive civilization; and it is not necessary that the child be burdened with this natural history of a past society. We must select from the past. In this selection of what shall be presented to the child we must be guided by two standards: First, we owe it to the child to hand on to him his literary heritage; and secondly, we must help him to make of himself the ideal man of the future. Therefore the tales we offer must contribute to these two standards. The tales selected will be those which the ages have found interesting; for the fact that they have lived proves their fitness, they have lived because there was something in them that appealed to the universal heart. And because of this fact they will be those which in the frequent re-tellings of ages have acquired a classic form and therefore have within themselves the possibility of taking upon them a perfect literary form. The tales selected will be those tales which, as we have pointed out, contain the interests of children; for only through his interests does the child rise to higher interests and finally develop to the ideal man. They will be those tales which stand also the test of a classic, the test of literature, the test of the short-story, and the test of narration and of description. The child would be handicapped in life to be ignorant of these tales.
Tales suitable for the little child may be viewed under these seven classes of available types: (1) the accumulative, or clock story; (2) the animal tale; (3) the humorous tale; (4) the realistic tale; (5) the romantic tale; (6) the old tale; and (7) the modern tale.
I. The Accumulative Tale.
The accumulative tale is the simplest form of the tale. It may be:-
(1) A tale of simple repetition.
(2) A tale of repetition with an addition, incremental iteration.
(3) A tale of repetition, with variation.
Repetition and rhythm have grown out of communal conditions. The old stories are measured utterances. At first there was the spontaneous expression of a little community, with its gesture, action, sound, and dance, and the word, the shout, to help out. There was the group which repeated, which acted as a chorus, and the leader who added his individual variation. From these developed the folk-tale with the dialogue in place of the chorus.
Of the accumulative tales, The House that Jack Built illustrates the first class of tales of simple repetition. This tale takes on a new interest as a remarkable study of phonics. If any one were so happy as to discover the phonic law which governs the euphony produced by the succession of vowels in the lines of Milton's poetry, he would enjoy the same law worked out in The House that Jack Built. The original, as given by Halliwell in his Nursery Rhymes of England, is said to be a Hebrew hymn, at first written in Chaldaic. To the Hebrews of the Middle Ages it was called the Haggadah, and was sung to a rude chant as part of the Passover service. It first appeared in print in 1590, at Prague. Later, in Leipzig, it was published by the German scholar, Liebrecht. It begins:-
A kid, a kid, my father bought
Then follow the various repetitive stanzas, the last one turning back and reacting on all the others:-
Then came the Holy One, blessed be He,
The remarkable similarity to The Old Woman, and Her Pig at once proclaims the origin of that tale also. The interpretation of this tale is as follows: The kid is the Hebrews; the father by whom it was purchased, is Jehovah; the two pieces of money are Aaron and Moses; the cat is the Assyrians; the dog is the Babylonians; the staff is the Persians; the fire is the Greek Empire and Alexander; the water is the Romans; the ox is the Saracens; the butcher is the Crusaders; and the angel of death is the Turkish Power. The message of this tale is that God will take vengeance over the Turks and the Hebrews will be restored to their own land.
Another tale of simple repetition, whose fairy element is the magic key, is The Key of the Kingdom, also found in Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England:-
This is the key of the kingdom.
The Old Woman and Her Pig illustrates the second class of accumulative tale, where there is an addition, and like Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse, where the end turns back on the beginning and changes all that precedes. Here there is a more marked plot. This same tale occurs in Shropshire Folk-Lore, in the Scotch Wife and Her Bush of Berries, in Club-Fist, an American folk-game described by Newell, in Cossack fairy tales, and in the Danish, Spanish, and Italian. In the Scandinavian, it is Nanny, Who Wouldn't Go Home to Supper, and in the Punjab, The Grain of Corn, also given in Tales of Laughter. I have never seen a child who did not like it or who was not pleased with himself for accomplishing its telling. It lends itself most happily to illustration. Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse pleases because of the liveliness of its images, and because of the catastrophe at the end, which affects the child just as the tumble of his huge pile of blocks-the crash and general upheaval delight him. This tale has so many variants that it illustrates well the diffusion of fairy tales. It is Grimm's The Spider and the Flea, which as we have seen, is appealing in its simplicity; the Norse The Cock Who Fell into the Brewing Vat; and the Indian The Death and Burial of Poor Hen. The curious succession of incidents may have been invented once for all at some definite time, and from thence spread to all the world.
Johnny Cake and The Gingerbread Man also represent the second class of accumulative tale, but show a more definite plot; there is more story-stuff and a more decided introduction and conclusion. How Jack Went to Seek His Fortune also shows more plot. It contains a theme similar to that of The Bremen Town Musicians, which is distinctly a beast tale where the element of repetition remains to sustain the interest and to preserve unity, but where a full-fledged short-story which is structurally complete, has developed. A fine accumulative tale belonging to this second class is the Cossack Straw Ox, which has been described under "The Short-Story." Here we have a single line of sequence which gets wound up to a climax and then unwinds itself to the conclusion, giving the child, in the plot, something of that pleasure which he feels in winding up his toy animals to watch them perform in the unwinding.
The Three Bears illustrates the third class of repetitive story, where there is repetition and variation. Here the iteration and parallelism have interest like the refrain of a song, and the technique of the story is like that of The Merchant of Venice. This is the ideal fairy story for the little child. It is unique in that it is the only instance in which a tale written by an author has become a folk-tale. It was written by Southey, and appeared in The Doctor, in London, in 1837. Southey may have used as his source, Scrapefoot, which Joseph Jacobs has discovered for us, or he may have used Snow White, which contains the episode of the chairs. Southey has given to the world a nursery classic which should be retained in its purity of form. The manner of the Folk, in substituting for the little old woman of Southey's tale, Goldilocks, and the difference that it effects in the tale, proves the greater interest children naturally feel in the tale with a child. Similarly, in telling The Story of Midas to an audience of eager little people, one naturally takes the fine old myth from Ovid as Bulfinch gives it, and puts into it the Marigold of Hawthorne's creation. And after knowing Marigold, no child likes the story without her. Silver hair is another substitute for the little Old Woman in The Three Bears. The very little child's reception to Three Bears will depend largely on the previous experience with bears and on the attitude of the person telling the story. A little girl who was listening to The Three Bears for the first time, as she heard how the Three Bears stood looking out of their upstairs window after Goldilocks running across the wood, said, "Why didn't Goldilocks lie down beside the Baby Bear?" To her the Bear was associated with the friendly Teddy Bear she took with her to bed at night, and the story had absolutely no thrill of fear because it had been told with an emphasis on the comical rather than on the fearful. Similar in structure to The Three Bears is the Norse Three Billy-Goats, which belongs to the same class of delightful repetitive tales and in which the sequence of the tale is in the same three distinct steps.
II. The Animal Tale
The animal tale includes many of the most pleasing children's tales. Indeed some authorities would go so far as to trace all fairy tales back to some ancestor of an animal tale; and in many cases this certainly can be done just as we trace Three Bears back to Scrapefoot. The animal tale is either an old beast tale, such as Scrapefoot or Old Sultan; or a fairy tale which is an elaborated development of a fable, such as The Country Mouse and the City Mouse or the tales of Reynard the Fox or Grimm's The King of the Birds, and The Sparrow and His Four Children; or it is a purely imaginary creation, such as Kipling's The Elephant's Child or Andersen's The Bronze Pig.
The beast tale is a very old form which was a story of some successful primitive hunt or of some primitive man's experience with animals in which he looked up to the beast as a brother superior to himself in strength, courage, endurance, swiftness, keen scent, vision, or cunning. Later, in more civilized society, when men became interested in problems of conduct, animals were introduced to point the moral of the tale, and we have the fable. The fable resulted when a truth was stated in concrete story form. When this truth was in gnomic form, stated in general terms, it became compressed into the proverb. The fable was brief, intense, and concerned with the distinguishing characteristics of the animal characters, who were endowed with human traits. Such were the Fables of AEsop. Then followed the beast epic, such as Reynard the Fox, in which the personality of the animals became less prominent and the animal characters became types of humanity. Later, the beast tale took the form of narratives of hunters, where the interest centered in the excitement of the hunt and in the victory of the hunter. With the thirst for universal knowledge in the days following Bacon there gradually grew a desire to learn also about animals. Then followed animal anecdotes, the result of observation and imagination, often regarding the mental processes of animals. With the growth of the scientific spirit the interest in natural history developed. The modern animal story since 1850 has a basis of natural science, but it also seeks to search the motive back of the action, it is a psychological romance. The early modern animal tales such as Black Beauty show sympathy with animals, but their psychology is human. In Seton Thompson's Krag, which is a masterpiece, the interest centers about the personality and the mentality of the animal and his purely physical characteristics. Perhaps it is true that these physical characteristics are somewhat imaginary and over-drawn and that overmuch freedom has been used in interpreting these physical signs. In Kipling's tales we have a later evolution of the animal tale. His animals possess personality in emotion and thought. In the forest-friends of Mowgli we have humanized animals possessing human power of thinking and of expressing. In real life animal motives seem simple, one dominant motive crowds out all others. But Kipling's animals show very complex motives, they reason and judge more than our knowledge of animal life justifies. In the Just-So Stories Kipling has given us the animal pourquois tale with a basis of scientific truth. Of these delightful fairy tales, The Elephant's Child and How the Camel Got His Hump may be used in the kindergarten. Perhaps the latest evolution of the animal tale is by Charles G.D. Roberts. The animal characters in his Kindred of the Wild are given animal characteristics. They have become interesting as exhibiting these traits and not as typifying human motives; they show an animal psychology. The tales have a scientific basis, and the interest is centered in this and not in an exaggeration of it.
Having viewed the animal tale as a growth let us look now at a few individual tales:-
One of the most pleasing animal tales is Henny Penny, or Chicken Lichen, as it is sometimes called, told by Jacobs in English Fairy Tales. Here the enterprising little hen, new to the ways of the world, ventures to take a walk. Because a grain of corn falls on her top-knot, she believes the sky is falling, her walk takes direction, and thereafter she proceeds to tell the king. She takes with her all she meets, who, like her, are credulous,-Cocky Locky, Ducky Daddies, Goosey Poosey, and Turky Lurky,-until they meet Foxy Woxy, who leads them into his cave, never to come out again. This is similar to the delightful Jataka tale of The Foolish Timid Rabbit, which before has been outlined for telling, which has been re-told by Ellen C. Babbit. In this tale a Rabbit, asleep under a palm tree, heard a noise, and thought "the earth was all breaking up." So he ran until he met another Rabbit, and then a hundred other Rabbits, a Deer, a Fox, an Elephant, and at last a Lion. All the animals except the Lion accepted the Rabbit's news and followed. But the Lion made a stand and asked for facts. He ran to the hill in front of the animals and roared three times. He traced the tale back to the first Rabbit, and taking him on his back, ran with him to the foot of the hill where the palm tree grew. There, under the tree, lay a cocoanut. The Lion explained the sound the Rabbit had heard, then ran back and told the other animals, and they all stopped running. Brother Rabbit Takes Some Exercise, a tale from Nights with Uncle Remus is very similar to Henny Penny and could be used at the same time. It is also similar to Grimm's Wolf and Seven Kids, the English Story of Three Pigs, the Irish The End of the World, and an Italian popular tale.
The Sheep and the Pig, adapted from the Scandinavian by Miss Bailey in For the Children's Hour, given also in Dasent's Tales from the Field, is a delightfully vivacious and humorous tale which reminds one of Henny Penny. A Sheep and Pig started out to find a home, to live together. They traveled until they met a Rabbit and then followed this dialogue:
R. "Where are you going?"
S. and P. "We are going to build us a house."
R. "May I live with you?"
S. and P. "What can you do to help?"
The Rabbit scratched his leg with his left hind foot for a minute and said, "I can gnaw pegs with my sharp teeth and I can put them in with my paws." "Good," said the Sheep and the Pig, "you may come with us!" Then they met a gray Goose who could pull moss and stuff it in cracks, and a Cock who could crow early and waken all. So they all found a house and lived in it happily.
The Spanish Media Pollito, or Little Half-Chick, is another accumulative animal tale similar to Henny Penny, and one which is worthy of university study. The disobedient but energetic hero who went off to Madrid is very appealing and constantly amusing, and the tale possesses unusual beauty. The interest centers in the character. The beauty lies in the setting of the adventures, as Medio Pollito came to a stream, to a large chestnut tree, to the wind, to the soldiers outside the city gates, to the King's Palace at Madrid, and to the King's cook, until in the end he reached the high point of immortalization as the weather-vane of a church steeple.
The Story of Three Pigs could contend with The Three Bears for the position of ideal story for little people. It suits them even better than The Three Bears, perhaps because they can identify themselves more easily with the hero, who is a most winning, clever individual, though a Pig. The children know nothing of the standards of the Greek drama, but they recognize a good thing; and when the actors in their story are great in interest and in liveliness, they respond with a corresponding appreciation. The dramatic element in The Three Pigs is strong and all children love to dramatize it. The story is the Italian Three Goslings, the Negro Tiny Pig, the Indian Lambikin, and the German The Wolf and Seven Kids. This tale is given by Andrew Lang in his Green Fairy Book. The most satisfactory presentation of the story is given by Leslie Brooke in his Golden Goose Book. The German version occurred in an old poem, Reinhart Fuchs, in which the Kid sees the Wolf through a chink. Originally the characters must have been Kids, for little pigs do not have hair on their "chinny chin chins."
One of the earliest modern animal tales is The Good-Natured Bear, by Richard Hengist Horne, the English critic. This tale was written in 1846, just when men were beginning to gain a greater knowledge of animal life. It is both psychological and imaginative. It was brought to the attention of the English public in a criticism, On Some Illustrated Christmas Books, by Thackeray, who considered it one of the "wittiest, pleasantest, and kindest of books, and an admirable story." It is now out of print, but it seems to be worthy of being preserved and reprinted. The story is the autobiography of a Bear, who first tells about his interesting experiences as a Baby Bear. He first gives to Gretchen and the children gathered about him an account of his experience when his Mother first taught him to walk alone.
III. The Humorous Tale
The humorous tale is one of the most pleasing to the little child. It pleases everybody, but it suits him especially because the essence of humor is a mixture of love and surprise, and both appeal to the child completely. Humor brings joy into the world, so does the little child, their very existence is a harmony. Humor sees contrasts, shows good sense, and feels compassion. It stimulates curiosity. Its laughter is impersonal and has a social and spiritual effect. It acts like fresh air, it clarifies the atmosphere of the mind and it enables one to see things in a sharply defined light. It reveals character; it breaks up a situation, reconstructs it, and so views life, interprets it. It plays with life, it frees the spirit, and it invigorates the soul.
Speaking of humor, Thackeray, in "A Grumble About Christmas Books," 1847, considered that the motto for humor should be the same as the talisman worn by the Prioress in Chaucer:-
About hire arm a broche of gold ful shene,
He continued: "The works of the real humorist always have this sacred press-mark, I think. Try Shakespeare, first of all, Cervantes, Addison, poor Dick Steele, and dear Harry Fielding, the tender and delightful Jean Paul, Sterne, and Scott,-and Love is the humorist's best characteristic and gives that charming ring to their laughter in which all the good-natured world joins in chorus."
The humorous element for children appears in the repetition of phrases such as we find in Three Bears, Three Pigs, and Three Billy-Goats; in the contrast in the change of voice so noticeable also in these three tales; in the contrast of ideas so conspicuous in Kipling's Elephant's Child; and in the element of surprise so evident when Johnny Cake is eaten by the Fox, or when Little Hen eats the bread, or when Little Pig outwits the Wolf. The humorous element for children also lies in the incongruous, the exaggerated, or in the grotesque, so well displayed in Lear's Nonsense Rhymes, and much of the charm of Alice in Wonderland. The humorous element must change accordingly for older children, who become surprised less easily, and whose tales therefore, in order to surprise, must have more clever ideas and more subtle fancy.
The Musicians of Bremen is a good type of humorous tale. It shows all the elements of true humor. Its philosophy is healthy; it views life as a whole and escapes tragedy by seeing the comic situation in the midst of trouble. It is full of the social good-comradeship which is a condition of humor. It possesses a suspense that is unusual, and is a series of surprises with one grand surprise to the robbers at their feast as its climax. The Donkey is a noble hero who breathes a spirit of courage like that of the fine Homeric heroes. His achievement of a home is a mastery that pleases children. And the message of the tale, which after all, is its chief worth-that there ought to be room in the world for the aged and the worn out, and that "The guilty flee when no man pursueth"-appeals to their compassion and their good sense. The variety of noises furnished by the different characters is a pleasing repetition with variation that is a special element of humor; and the grand chorus of music leaves no doubt as to the climax. We must view life with these four who are up against the facts of life, and whose lot presents a variety of contrast. The Donkey, incapacitated because of old age, had the courage to set out on a quest. He met the Dog who could hunt no longer, stopping in the middle of the road, panting for breath; the Cat who had only stumps for teeth, sitting in the middle of the road, wearing an unhappy heart behind a face dismal as three rainy Sundays; and the Rooster who just overheard the cook say he was to be made into soup next Sunday, sitting on the top of the gate crowing his last as loud as he could crow. The Donkey, to these musicians he collected, spoke as a leader and as a true humorist.
In a simple tale like The Bremen Town Musicians it is surprising how much of interest can develop: the adventure in the wood; the motif of some one going to a tree-top and seeing from there a light afar off, which appears in Hop-o'-my-Thumb and in many other tales; the example of cooeperation, where all had a unity of purpose; an example of a good complete short-story form which illustrates introduction, setting, characters and dialogue-all these proclaim this one of the fine old stories. In its most dramatic form, and to Jacobs its most impressive one, it appears in the Celtic tales as Jack and His Comrades. It may have been derived from Old Sultan, a Grimm tale which is somewhat similar to The Wolf and the Hungry Dog, in Steinhowel, 1487. How Jack Sought His Fortune is an English tale of cooeperation which is similar but not nearly so pleasing. A Danish tale of cooperation, Pleiades, is found in Lansing's Fairy Tales. How Six Traveled Through the World is a Grimm tale which, though suited to older children, contains the same general theme.
Very many of the tales suited to kindergarten children which have been mentioned in various chapters, contain a large element of humor. The nonsense drolls are a type distinct from the humorous tale proper, yet distinctly humorous. Such are the realistic Lazy Jack, Henny Penny, and Billy Bobtail. Then since repetition is an element of humor, many accumulative tales rank as humorous: such as Lambikin, The Old Woman and Her Pig, Medio Pollito, The Straw Ox, Johnny Cake, and Three Billy-Goats. Among the humorous tales proper are Andersen's Snow Man; The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership; The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings; The Elephant's Child; and very many of the Uncle Remus Tales, such as Why the Hawk Catches Chickens, Brother Rabbit and Brother Tiger, and Heyo, House! all in Uncle Remus and the Little Boy. The Story of Little Black Mingo in Tales of Laughter, is a very attractive humorous tale, but it is more suited to the child of the second grade.
Drakesbill is a French humorous accumulative tale with a plot constructed similarly to that of the Cossack Straw Ox. Drakesbill, who was so tiny they called him Bill Drake, was a great worker and soon saved a hundred dollars in gold which he lent to the King. But as the King never offered to pay, one morning Drakesbill set out, singing as he went, "Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?" To all the objects he met and to their questions he replied, "I am going to the King to ask him to pay me what he owes me." When they begged, "Take me with you!" he was willing, but he said, "You must make yourself small, get into my mouth, and creep under my tongue!" He arrived at the palace with his companions concealed in his mouth: a Fox, a Ladder, Laughing River, and Wasp-Nest. On asking to see the King, he was not escorted with dignity but sent to the poultry-yard, to the turkeys and chickens who fought him. Then he surprised them by calling forth the Fox who killed the fowls. When he was thrown into a well, he called out the Ladder to help him. When about to be thrown into the fire, he called out the River who overwhelmed the rest and left him serenely swimming. When surrounded by the King's men and their swords he called out the Wasp-Nest who drove away all but Drakesbill, leaving him free to look for his money. But he found none as the King had spent all. So he seated himself upon the throne and became King. The element of humor here, as has been mentioned previously, is that Drakesbill, after every rebuff of fortune maintained his happy, fresh vivacity, and triumphantly repeated his one cry, "Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?" There is humor, too, in the repetition of dialogue, as on his way to the King he met the various characters and talked to them. Humor lies also in the real lively surprises which Drakesbill so effectively gave during his visit to the King. One can see how this tale might have been a satire reflecting upon a spendthrift King.
IV. The Realistic Tale
The realistic fairy tale has a great sympathy with humble life and desires to reproduce faithfully all life worth while. The spirit of it has been expressed by Kipling-
each in his separate star,
Sometimes the realistic story has a scientific spirit and interest. A realistic tale that is good will present not only what is true but what is possible, probable, or inevitable, making its truth impressive. Very often it does not reach this ideal. A transcript of actual life may be selected, but that is a photograph and not a picture with a strong purpose to make one point, and with artistic design. The characters, though true to life, may be lifeless and colorless, and their doings and what happens to them uninteresting. For this reason, many modern writers of tales for children, respecting the worth of the realistic, neglect to comply with what the realistic demands, and produce insipid, unconvincing tales. The realistic tale should deal with the simple and the ordinary rather than with the exceptional; and the test is not how much, but how little, credulity it arouses.
Grimm's Hans in Luck is a perfect realistic tale, as are Grimm's Clever Elsa and the Norse Three Sillies, although these tales are suited to slightly older children. The drolls often appear among the realistic tales, as if genuine humor were more fresh when related to the things of actual life. The English Lazy Jack is a delightful realistic droll which contains motifs that appear frequently among the tales. The Touchstone motif of a humble individual causing nobility to laugh appears in Grimm's Dummling and His Golden Goose. It appears also in Zerbino the Savage, a most elaborated Neapolitan tale retold by Laboulaye in his Last Fairy Tales; a tale full of humor, wit, and satire that would delight the cultured man of the world.
In Lazy Jack the setting is in humble life. A poor mother lived on the common with her indolent son and managed to earn a livelihood by spinning. One day the mother lost patience and threatened to send from home this idle son if he did not get work. So he set out. Each day he returned to his mother with his day's earnings. The humor lies in what he brought, in how he brought it, and in what happened to it; in the admonition of his mother, "You should have done so and so," and Jack's one reply, "I'll do so another time"; in Jack's literal use of his mother's admonition, and the catastrophe it brought him on the following day, and on each successive day, as he brought home a piece of money, a jar of milk, a cream cheese, a tom-cat, a shoulder of mutton, and at last a donkey. The humor lies in the contrast between what Jack did and what anybody "with sense" knows he ought to have done, until when royalty beheld him carrying the donkey on his shoulders, with legs sticking up in the air, it could bear no more, and burst into laughter. This is a good realistic droll to use because it impresses the truth, that even a little child must reason and judge and use his own common sense.
The Story of the Little Red Hen is a realistic tale which presents a simple picture of humble thrift. Andersen's Tin Soldier is a realistic tale which gives an adventure that might happen to a real tin soldier. The Old Woman and her Pig, whose history has been given under The Accumulative Tale, is realistic. Its theme is the simple experience of an aged peasant who swept her house, who had the unusual much-coveted pleasure of finding a dime, who went to market and bought a Pig for so small a sum. But on the way home, as the Pig became contrary when reaching a stile, and refused to go, the Old Woman had to seek aid. So she asked the Dog, the Stick, the Fire, etc. She asked aid first from the nearest at hand; and each object asked, in its turn sought help from the next higher power. One great source of pleasure in this tale is that each object whose aid is sought is asked to do the thing its nature would compel it to do-the Dog to bite, the Stick to beat, etc.; and each successive object chosen is the one which, by the law of its nature, is a master to the preceding one. The Dog, by virtue of ability to bite, has power over the Pig; the Stick has ability to master the Dog; and Water in its power to quench is master over Fire. Because of this intimate connection of cause and effect, this tale contributes in an unusual degree to the development of the child's reason and memory. He may remember the sequence of the plot or remake the tale if he forgets, by reasoning out the association between the successive objects from whom aid was asked. It is through this association that the memory is exercised.
How Two Beetles Took Lodgings, in Tales of Laughter, is a realistic story which has a scientific spirit and interest. Its basis of truth belongs to the realm of nature study. Its narration of how two Beetles set up housekeeping by visiting an ant-hill and helping themselves to the home and furnishings of the Ants, would be very well suited either to precede or to follow the actual study of an ant-hill by the children. The story gives a good glimpse of the home of the Ants, of their manner of living, and of the characteristics of the Ants and Beetles. It is not science mollified, but a good story full of life and humor, with a basis of scientific truth.
Many tales not realistic contain a large realistic element. The fine old romantic tales, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Bremen Town Musicians, have a large realistic element. In The Little Elves we have the realistic picture of a simple German home. In Beauty and the Beast we have a realistic glimpse of the three various ways the wealthy merchant's daughters accommodated themselves to their father's loss of fortune, which reminds us of a parallel theme in Shakespeare's King Lear. In Red Riding Hood we have the realistic starting out of a little girl to visit her grandmother. This realistic element appeals to the child because, as we have noted, it accords with his experience, and it therefore seems less strange.
In Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse the setting is realistic but becomes transformed into the romantic when natural doings of everyday life take on meaning from the unusual happening in the tale. It is realistic for Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse to live in a little house, to get some corn, to make a pudding, and to put it on to boil. But when the pot tumbled over and scalded Titty, the romantic began. The stool which was real and common and stood by the door became transformed with animation, it talked: "Titty's dead, and so I weep"; and it hopped! Then a broom caught the same animation from the same theme, and swept; a door jarred; a window creaked; an old form ran round the house; a walnut tree shed its leaves; a little bird moulted his pretty feathers; a little girl spilled her milk; a man tumbled off his ladder; and the walnut tree fell with a crash, upsetting everything and burying Titty in the ruins. They all learned to convey the same message. The common and customary became uncommon and unusual with extraordinary life, feeling, and lively movement.
Other romantic tales with a large realistic element are The Three Bears, The Three Pigs, and The Three Billy-Goats, animal tales which of necessity must be largely realistic, for their foundation is in the facts of the nature, habits, and traits of the animal characters they portray.
V. The Romantic Tale
The romantic tale reflects emotion and it contains adventure and the picturesque; it deals with dreams, distant places, the sea, the sky, and objects of wonder touched with beauty and strangeness. The purpose of the romantic is to arouse emotion, pity, or the sense of the heroic; and it often exaggerates character and incidents beyond the normal. The test of the romantic tale as well as of the realistic tale is in the reality it possesses. This reality it will possess, not only because it is true, but because it is also true to life. And it is to be remembered that because of the unusual setting in a romantic tale the truth it presents stands out very clearly with much impressiveness. Red Riding Hood is a more impressive tale than The Three Bears.
Cinderella is a good type of the old romantic tale. It has a never-ending attraction for children just as it has had for all peoples of the world; for this tale has as many as three hundred and forty-five variants, which have been examined by Miss Cox. In these variants there are many common incidents, such as the hearth abode, the helpful animal, the heroine disguise, the ill-treated heroine, the lost shoe, the love-sick prince, magic dresses, the magic tree, the threefold flight, the false bride, and many others. But the one incident which claims the tale as a Cinderella tale proper, is the recognition of the heroine by means of her shoe. In the Greek Rhodope, the slipper is carried off by an eagle and dropped into the lap of the King of Egypt, who seeks and marries the owner. In the Hindu tale the Rajah's daughter loses her slipper in the forest where it is found by the Prince. The interpretation of Cinderella is that the Maiden, the Dawn, is dull and gray away from the brightness of the sun. The Sisters are the Clouds that shadow the Dawn, and the Stepmother is Night. The Dawn hurries away from the pursuing Prince, the Sun, who, after a long search, overtakes her in her glorious robes of sunset.
This tale is the Hindu Sodewa Bai, the Zuni Poor Turkey Girl, and the English Rushen Coatie, Cap-o'-Rushes, and Catskin. Catskin, which Mr. Burchell told to the children of the Vicar of Wakefield, is considered by Newell as the oldest of the Cinderella types, appearing in Straparola in 1550, while Cinderella appeared first in Basile in 1637. Catskin, in ballad form as given by Halliwell, was printed in Aldermary Churchyard, England, in 1720; and the form as given by Jacobs well illustrates how the prose tale developed from the old ballad. The two most common forms of Cinderella are Perrault's and Grimm's, either of which is suited to the very little child. Perrault's Cinderella shows about twenty distinct differences from the Grimm tale:-
(1) It omits the Mother's death-bed injunction to Cinderella.
(2) It omits the wooden shoes and the cloak.
(3) The Stepmother assigns more modern tasks. It omits
(4) It shows Cinderella sleeping in a garret instead
(5) It omits the Father.
(6) It omits the hazel bough.
(7) It omits the three wishes.
(8) It substitutes the fairy Godmother for the hazel
(9) It substitutes transformation for tree-shaking.
(10) It omits the episode of the pear tree and of the
(11) It omits the use of pitch and axe-cutting.
(12) It omits the false bride and the two doves.
(13) It substitutes two nights at the ball for three nights.
(14) It makes C. forgiving and generous at the end. The
(15) It contains slippers of glass instead of slippers of gold.
(16) It simplifies the narrative, improves the structure,
(17) It has no poetical refrain.
(18) It is more direct and dramatic.
(19) It draws the characters more clearly.
(20) Is it not more artificial and conventional?
This contrast shows the Grimm tale to be the more poetical, while it is the more complex, and contains more barbarous and gruesome elements unsuited to the child of to-day. Of the two forms, the Grimm tale seems the superior tale, however, and if rewritten in a literary form suited to the child, might become even preferable.
Sleeping Beauty, which is another romantic tale that might claim to be the most popular fairy tale, has for its theme the long sleep of winter and the awakening of spring. The Earth goddess, pricked by winter's dart, falls into a deep sleep from which she is awakened by the Sun who searches far for her. This tale is similar to the Norse Balder and the Greek Persephone. Some of its incidents appear also in The Two Brothers, an Egyptian tale of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Seti II, in which the Hathors who pronounce the fate of the Prince correspond to the wicked old Fairy. The spindle whose prick caused slumber is the arrow that wounded Achilles, the thorn which pricked Siegfried, the mistle-toe which wounded Balder, and the poisoned nail of the demon in Surya Bai. In the northern form of the story we find the ivy, which is the one plant that can endure winter's touch. The theme of the long sleep occurs in the mediaeval legend of The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, in the English The King of England and His Three Sons, poetically as Tennyson has given it in his Day-Dream, and in the Story of Brunhilde, in Siegfried. Here a hedge of flames encircles Brunhilde who is awakened at the touch of Siegfried's magic sword, just as Sleeping Beauty is awakened by the Prince's kiss. The kiss may be a survival of an ancient form of worship of some local goddess. In the Hindu Panch-Rhul Ranee, seven ditches surmounted by seven hedges of spears, surround the heroine. Of the Perrault and Grimm versions of Sleeping Beauty, the Perrault version is long and complex because it contains the minor tale of the cruel stepmother added to the main tale, while the Grimm Briar Rose is a model of structure easily separated into ten leading episodes. Sleeping Beauty appeared in Basile's Pentamerone where there is given the beautiful incident of the baby sucking the spike of flax out of its sleeping mother's fingers. The Perrault version agrees with that of Basile in naming the twins, who are Sun and Moon in the Pentamerone, Day and Dawn.
Red Riding Hood is another romantic tale that could claim to be the one most popular fairy tale of all fairy tales. Similar tales occur in the story of the Greek Kronos swallowing his children, in the Algonquin legend repeated in Hiawatha, and in an Aryan story of a Dragon swallowing the sun and being killed by the sun-god, Indra. Red Riding Hood appeals to a child's sense of fear, it gives a thrill which if not too intense, is distinctly pleasing. But it pleases less noticeably perhaps because of its atmosphere of love and service, and because it presents a picture of a dear little maid. The Grandmother's gift of love to the child, the bright red hood, the mother's parting injunction, the Wolf's change of aspect and voice to suit the child-all these directly and indirectly emphasize love, tenderness, and appreciation of simple childhood. The child's errand of gratitude and love, the play in the wood, the faith in the woodcutter's presence-all are characteristic of a typical little maid and one to be loved. There is in the tale too, the beauty of the wood-flowers, birds, and the freshness of the open air. The ending of the tale is varied. In Perrault the Wolf ate Grandmother and then ate Red Riding Hood. In Grimm one version gives it that the Hunter, hearing snoring, went to see what the old lady needed. He cut open the Wolf, and Grandmother and Red Riding Hood became alive. He filled the Wolf with stones. When the Wolf awoke, he tried to run, and died. All three were happy; the Hunter took the skin, Grandmother had her cake and wine, and Red Riding Hood was safe and had her little girl's lesson of obedience. Another Grimm ending is that Little Red-Cap reached the Grandmother before the Wolf, and after telling her that she had met him, they both locked the door. Then they filled a trough with water in which the sausages had been boiled. When the Wolf tried to get in and got up on the roof, he was enticed by the odor, and fell into the trough. A great deal of freedom has been used in re-telling the ending of this tale, usually with the purpose of preventing the Wolf from eating Red Riding Hood. In regard to the conclusion of Red Riding Hood, Thackeray said: "I am reconciled to the Wolf eating Red Riding Hood because I have given up believing this is a moral tale altogether and am content to receive it as a wild, odd, surprising, and not unkindly fairy story."
The interpretation of Red Riding Hood-which the children need not know-is that the evening Sun goes to see her Grandmother, the Earth, who is the first to be swallowed up by the Wolf of Night and Darkness. The red cloak is the twilight glow. The Hunter may be the rising Sun that rescues all from Night. Red Riding Hood has been charmingly elaborated in Tieck's Romantic Poems, and a similar story appears in a Swedish popular song, Jungfrun i'Blaskagen, in Folkviser 3; 68, 69.
VI, VII. The Old Tale and the Modern Tale.
The old fairy tale is to be distinguished from the modern fairy tale. Most of the tales selected have been old tales because they possess the characteristics suited to the little child. The modern fairy tale may be said to begin with Andersen's Fairy Tales.-Since Andersen has been referred to frequently and as a study of The Tin Soldier has already been given, Andersen's work can receive no more detailed treatment here.-The modern fairy tale, since the time of Andersen, has yet to learn simplicity and sincerity. It often is long and involved and presents a multiplicity of images that is confusing. It lacks the great art qualities of the old tale, the central unity and harmony of character and plot. The idea must be the soul of the narrative, and the problem is to make happen to the characters things that are expressive of the idea. The story must hold by its interest, and must be sincere and inevitable to be convincing. It must understand that the method of expression must be the method of suggestion and not that of detail. The old tale set no boundaries to its suggestion. It used concrete artistry; but because the symbol expressed less it implied more. The modern tale is more definitely intentional and it often sets boundaries to its suggestion because the symbol expresses so much. Frequently it emphasizes the satiric and critical element, and its humor often is heavy and clumsy. To be literature, as has been pointed out, besides characters, plot, setting, and dialogue, a classic must present truth; it must have emotion and imagination molded with beauty into the form of language; and it must have the power of a classic to bestow upon the mind a permanent enrichment. Any examination of the modern fairy tale very frequently shows a failure to meet these requirements.
The modern tale is not so poor, however, when we mention such tales as Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Oscar Wilde's Happy Prince, Alice Brown's Gradual Fairy, Frances Browne's Prince Fairyfoot, Miss Mulock's Little Lame Prince, Barrie's Peter Pan, Jean Ingelow's Mopsa, the Fairy and The Ouphe in the Wood, Field's The Story of Claus, Stockton's Old Pipes and the Dryad, Kingsley's Water Babies, Ruskin's King of the Golden River, Collodi's Pinocchio, Maeterlinck's Blue-Bird, Kipling's Just-So Stories and the tales of the Jungle Books, Selma Lagerloef's Wonderful Adventures of Nils, the Uncle Remus Tales of Harris, etc. But these classics are, with a few exceptions, the richness of the primary and elementary literature. The modern fairy tale suited to the kindergarten child, is at a disadvantage, for most likely it is hidden away in some magazine, waiting for appreciation to bring some attention to it. And in these complex modern days it is difficult to secure a tale whose simplicity suits the little child.
Among the best tales for little people are Miss Harrison's Hans and the Four Giants and Little Beta and the Lame Giant. In Little Beta and the Lame Giant a natural child is placed in unusual surroundings, where the gentleness of the giant and the strength of love in the little girl present strong contrasts that please and satisfy. The Sea Fairy and the Land Fairy in Some Fairies I have Met, by Mrs. Stawell, though possessing much charm and beauty, is too complicated for the little people. It is a quarrel of a Sea Fairy and a Land Fairy. It is marked by good structure, it presents a problem in the introduction, has light fancy suited to its characters, piquant dialogue, good description, visualized expressions, and it presents distinct pictures. Its method is direct and it gets immediately into the story. Its method of personification, which in this, perhaps the best story of the collection, is rather delightful, in some of the others is less happy and is open to question. How Double Darling's Old Shoes Became Lady Slippers, by Candace Wheeler, in St. Nicholas, is a really delightful modern fairy story suited to be read to the little child. It is the experience of a little girl with new shoes and her dream about her old shoes. But the story lacks in structure, there is not the steady rise to one great action, the episode of the Santa Claus tree is somewhat foreign and unnecessary, and the conclusion falls flat because the end seems to continue after the problem has been worked out.
In The Dwarf's Tailor, by Underhill, there is much conversation about things and an indirect use of language, such as "arouse them to reply" and "continued to question," which is tedious. The humor is at times heavy, quoting proverbs, such as "The pitcher that goes too often to the well is broken at last." The climax is without interest. The scene of the Dwarfs around the fire-in which the chief element of humor seems to be that the Tailor gives the Dwarf a slap-is rather foolish than funny. The details are trite and the transformation misses being pleasing. Again there is not much plot and the story does not hold by its interest. In The Golden Egg and the Cock of Gold, by Scudder, the conversation is not always to the point, is somewhat on the gossipy order, is trite, and the suspense is not held because the climax is told beforehand. Mrs. Burton Harrison's Old Fashioned Fairy Book is very pleasing, but it was written for her two sons, who were older children. It has the fault of presenting too great a variety of images and it lacks simplicity of structure. Its Juliet, or The Little White Mouse, which seems to be a re-telling of D'Aulnoy's Good Little Mouse, contains a good description of the old-time fairy dress. Deep Sea Violets, perhaps the best-written story in the book, gives a good picture of a maiden taken to a Merman's realm. Rosy's Stay-at-Home Parties has delightful imagination similar to that of Andersen.
Five Little Pigs, by Katherine Pyle, is a delightful little modern story, which could be used with interest by the child who knows The Story of Three Little Pigs. The Little Rooster, by Southey, is a very pleasing realistic tale of utmost simplicity which, because of its talking animals, might be included here. A criticism of this tale, together with a list of realistic stories containing some realistic fairy tales suited to the kindergarten, may be read in Educational Foundations, October, 1914. The Hen That Hatched Ducks, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a pleasing and sprightly humorous tale of Madam Feathertop and her surprising family of eight ducks, and of Master Gray Cock, Dame Scratchard and Dr. Peppercorn. A modern tale that is very acceptable to the children is The Cock, the Mouse, and the Little Red Hen, by Felicite Lefevre, which is a re-telling of the Story of the Little Red Hen combined with the story of The Little Rid Hin. In this tale the two old classic stories are preserved but re-experienced, with such details improvised as a clever child would himself naturally make. These additional details appeal to his imagination and give life-likeness and freshness to the tale, but they do not detract from the impression of the original or confuse the identity of the characters in the old tales.
One must not forget Peter Rabbit-that captivating, realistic fairy tale by Beatrix Potter-and his companions, Benjamin Bunny, Pigling Bland, Tom Kitten, and the rest, of which children never tire. Peter Rabbit undoubtedly holds a place as a kindergarten classic. In somewhat the same class of merry animal tales is Tommy and the Wishing Stone, a series of tales by Thornton Burgess, in St. Nicholas, 1915. Here the child enjoys the novel transformation of becoming a Musk-rat, a Ruffed Grouse, a Toad, Honker the Goose, and other interesting personages. A modern fairy tale which is received gladly by children is Ludwig and Marleen, by Jane Hoxie. Here we have the friendly Fox who grants to Ludwig the wishes he asks for Marleen. The theme parallels for the little people the charm of The Fisherman and His Wife, a Grimm tale suited to the second grade. Among modern animal tales The Elephant's Child, one of the Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, ranks high as a fairy tale produced for little children by one of the great literary masters of the short-story.
A modern tale that is a bit of pure imagination and seems an attempt to follow Grimm and Andersen, is A Quick-Running Squash, in Aspinwall's Short Stories for Short People. It uses the little boy's interest in a garden-his garden.-Interest centers about the fairy, the magic seed, the wonderful ride, and the happy ending. It uses the simple, everyday life and puts into it the unusual and the wonderful where nothing is impossible. It blends the realistic and the romantic in a way that is most pleasing. The Rich Goose, by Leora Robinson, in the Outlook, is an accumulative tale with an interesting ending and surprise. Why the Morning Glory Climbs, by Elizabeth McCracken, in Miss Bryant's How to Tell Stories, is a simple fanciful tale. The Discontented Pendulum, by Jane Taylor, in Poulssen's In the Child's World, is a good illustration of the modern purely fanciful tale. What Bunch and Joker saw in the Moon, in Wide-Awake Chatterbox, about 1887, is a most delightful modern fanciful tale, although it is best suited to the child of nine or ten. Greencap, by Ruth Hays, in St. Nicholas, June, 1915, appeals to the child through the experience of Sarah Jane, whose Mother and Father traveled to India. Sarah went to live with Aunt Jane and there met Greencap who granted the proverbial "three wishes." Alice in Wonderland ranks in a class by itself among modern fanciful tales but it is better suited to the child of the third and fourth grades.
A modern fairy tale which is suited to the child's simplicity and which will stimulate his own desire to make a tale, is The Doll Who Was Sister to a Princess, one of the Toy Stories by Carolyn Bailey which have been published by the Kindergarten Review during 1914-15. Among modern tales selected from Fairy Stories Re-told from St. Nicholas, appear some interesting ones which might be read to the little child, or told in the primary grades. Among these might be mentioned:-
The Ballad of the Blacksmith's Sons, a modern tale in
Casperl, by H.C. Bunner, a modern Sleeping Beauty tale.
Ten Little Dwarfs, by Sophie Dorsey, from the French
Wondering Tom, by Mary Mapes Dodge. This is a bright
story of a boy who Hamlet-like, hesitated to act. Tom was always
How An Elf Set Up Housekeeping, by Anne Cleve. This is
The Wish-Ring, translated from the German by Anne Eichberg.
The Hop-About Man, by Agnes Herbertson, in Little Folks
The story then describes Wee Wun's troubles with the Hop-About-Man, who remained an unwelcome inhabitant of the house where Wee Wun liked to sit all alone. The Hop-About-Man made everything keep hopping about until Wee Wun would put all careless things straight, and until he would give back to him his blue-and-silver shoes. One day, Wee Wun became a careful housekeeper and weeded out of the dandelion garden all the blue blow-away plants that grew from the seeds he had scattered there in the Stir-About-Wife's garden, and when he came home his troubles were over, and the Hop-About-Man was gone.
Perhaps one reason for the frequent failure of the modern fairy tale is that it fails to keep in harmony with the times. Just as the modern novel has progressed from the romanticism of Hawthorne, the realism of Thackeray, through the psychology of George Eliot, and the philosophy of George Meredith, so the little child's story-which like the adult story is an expression of the spirit of the times-must recognize these modern tendencies. It must learn, from Alice in Wonderland and from A Child's Garden of Verses, that the modern fairy tale is not a Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, but the modern fairy tale is the child's mind. The real fairy world is the strangeness and beauty of the child mind's point of view. It is the duty and privilege of the modern fairy tale to interpret the child's psychology and to present the child's philosophy of life.
Century Co.: St. Nicholas Magazine, 1915; St.
Gates, Josephine: "And Piped Those Children Back
Hays, Ruth: "Greencap," St. Nicholas, June, 1915.
Hazlitt, William; Essays. ("Wit and Humor.")
Hooker, B.: "Narrative and the Fairy Tale,"
Bookman, 33: June
Ibid: "Types of Fairy Tales," Forum,
40: Oct., 1908, pp.
Martin, John: John Martin's Book (Magazine), 1915
Meredith, George: The Comic Spirit. Scribners.
Moulton, Alice O'Grady, and Literature Committee: "Humorous
Perry, Bliss: A Study of Prose Fiction. ("The
Kready, Laura F. A Study of Fairy Tales. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916.