Fairy Tales: A History

Fairy Tales: A History

Hansel-and-gretel-rackham

 

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a printing press. Our histories, our cultures, our stories, were passed down in the oral tradition, while sitting around a fire in the middle of the village. Sharing and re-enacting the stories was the primary form of entertainment. Imagine no cable, no movies, no music, no The Walking Dead.

Those stories changed and grew from stories like The Golden Ass, the story of a man’s curiosity and his desire to learn magic, to have it all change when his spell to turn into a bird goes awry when he becomes an ass instead, to the famous Greek stories known as Aesops Fables. As kids, we remember the Brothers Grimm and Mother Goose, delightful or terrifying adventures with talking animals, and fantastic elements. Today we could be talking about Disney.

I’m really more interested in the history of the fairy tale the folk-lore. How they started, what they came to be. Some interpret the fairy tale as solar myths, the idea that the characters are recognized as G-dlike, representing the Sun or an aspect of it and the characters becoming a manifestation of power and strength.

Other experts feel the tales explain ancient customs. The historical fact that many women once died in childbirth. When their husbands remarried, the stepmother competed with the children from the first marriage for resources. We see this in Snow White and Cinderella, as the step mothers do unspeakable things to their step daughters.

So do you enjoy the world of the fantasy? Did you realize it began as child or did you forget the love for things nonsensical, or scary or fantastic. Though the world of the Urban Fantasy and Science Fiction have taken a turn for the popular, the genre itself has been around for a long time. It’s not new. It doesn’t belong to the stereotypical geek. It’s our history, it’s the future.

Do you have a favorite? A story that means something to you or resonates with you on some level? Me, I have two. Cinderella and Mulan for two totally different reasons. As much as the Disney princesses can be irritating and weak, needing a man to save her, I love the story of hope in Cinderella, her intense belief that it will get better. In Mulan, it was the first princess whose story didn’t resolve around finding a man. She took control of the situation and solved her problems on her own. Ironically, it’s a movie based on a Chinese folktale.

 

 

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: