Cinderella doesn’t have a Fairy Godmother and Sleeping Beauty didn’t have an evil step mother. Rapunzel has a hidden secret, and Frog Princes seldom get kissed, well would you?
The world of the Brothers Grimm in Germany in 1812 was not the sort of place that you would expect a collection of fairy tales to come from. Yet the two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm gathered series of tales from around the country and published them first as folk tales. (Amazon link). The first book was called “Children’s and Household Tales”. It was so popular that another 70 stories were added to the next volume and it went on growing for six more editions. Finally the book had over 200 stories.
But are Fairy Tales all that they seem, why have they managed to exist for so long and why even now are they the source for so much materials in film and in children’s books?
The stories have in fact changed continuously, they have been adapted, added to, sections removed and still the understanding of the story is much the same. There are complete sets of morals and a way of finding out about the world from the relative safety of a book. In vivid characterisations and settings that may only appear in a world of dreams the very young child finds themselves confronting danger, conflict and right versus wrong comes through in abundance!
In Bruno Bettleheim’s The Uses of Enchantment (Amazon link) there is much about the stories being a focus of where the child actually is in their emotional and psychological being at an early stage.
And so often these are stories that are shared with parents or teachers, and that makes a difference.They can also be read and re read, knowing where the scary bit is in the story can really bring on the anticipation!
They are stories of kings and queens, castles and forests, animals and witches, magic and fantasy.But whatever has happened right always wins over wrong and happiness is found in the end. What more could we want!
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