Opinions, anyone?

SnakFairy Tales Retold

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Opinions, anyone?

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2justjukka
feb 25, 2012, 9:59 pm

Parents would say that. I think I'll quote myself on a tweet in regards to a cartoon I watched religiously as a child:
Watching Batman Beyond. It came out when I was in middle school and it's grittier than I remember. This leads me to one conclusion: adults are sensitive.

3urania1
feb 26, 2012, 12:11 am

Children are exposed to far scarier situations in the real world. I certainly was. Reading fairy tales was a welcome respite.

4Meredy
mar 16, 2012, 2:38 am

I don't subscribe to everything that Bruno Bettelheim says in The Uses of Enchantment, with its heavily Freudian orientation, but I think he was absolutely on target with several of his points.

He argues that fairy tales owe their popularity and longevity to the way they address themes that people respond to on a deep level and that rewriting them to take out the scary stuff destroys their value. The many there-once-were-three-brothers stories, for example, representing the basic family constellation of two parents and a child, show the youngest one going out into the world to face adventures and trials on his own. If the dangers he overcomes aren't real, how can the tale reassure the child that he will be able to survive and succeed in the big old scary world?

Similarly, if the witch in the candy house isn't truly a danger but just a silly old toothless clown (as she was in one staged version that I saw with my young son), where is the justice in killing her? We have to know that she has the worst intentions toward Hansel when clever Gretel succeeds in pushing her into the oven. Then we see evil get its reward. This is a hopeful message, delivered in a way that a child can take in without having to deal with it yet on a literal level. These stories work on the child's psyche long before you can just tell a kid, "There are some bad people in the world. The adult is not necessarily always your friend. Someday someone might try to hurt you, but you are entitled to fight to defend yourself." I wanted my children to know that.

I didn't want to tell my child that his fears were foolish but that he was strong enough to defeat them.

Little kids enjoy being scared in fun. They scream first and then laugh. They scare each other. They like making horrible faces and wearing masks. They know it isn't real. When you read "Little Red Riding Hood" to them, they know you're reading a story and not showing them a real grandmother being eaten by a real wolf. Even if they don't take it literally, an idea is being lodged with them, and at some level they get the message.

I think parents who voice this fear about traditional children's stories are failing to comprehend the sense of the stories, underestimating their children, and fostering an insidious sense of entitlement in the young. They are also saying that they think they're owed an easy, painless, stress-free life of meaningless entertainment. Why would anyone want to cater to an absurd notion like that?

5foggidawn
mar 16, 2012, 8:23 am

#4 -- Well put.

6reading_fox
mar 16, 2012, 10:29 am

Just occasionally I want to 'like' and LT post. #4 - nothign more needs be said.

7justjukka
mar 16, 2012, 2:59 pm

Thank you, Meredy.

8urania1
mar 17, 2012, 8:36 pm

My thanks as well. Excellent post,