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FLOTSAM: Fairy Tales

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356610.  Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:49 am Reply with quote

Most fairy tales that we know today are centuries of years old, and began life as oral tales told around mediaeval Europe. They were often extremely adult in nature until storytellers such as Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm made them into the wholesome fables they are today.

In the original Perrault version of Little Red Riding Hood, ‘le petit chaperon rouge’, the story ends when the wolf eats Red Riding Hood No woodcutter, no rescue, just digestion. An earlier version has the eponymous character escaping by performing a striptease. The Grimms Fairy Tale version adds the woodcutter rescuing Red Riding Hood and grandma by cutting open the wolf's belly while the wolf is sleeping off his feast (having been alerted by the wolf's snores), but then also adds the sequence where Ms Hood and the woodcutter fill the wolf's belly with big stones and throw him in the well to drown him.

The original version of Snow White didn't just end with the prince and Snow White's wedding. In that version, the wicked stepmother was forced to don red hot shoes and dance at the wedding until she dropped dead.
In the original version of Cinderella, the stepsisters are beautiful, not ugly. They actually cut chunks off their feet to attempt to get them to fit into the tiny slipper, being told “you wont need to walk when you’re queen”, they were only discovered when a pigeon noticed the blood came pouring out of the slipper. The sisters still tried to go to Cinderella’s wedding, but the pigeons pecked their eyes out.

One of the oldest known versions of the Frog Prince fairy tales is from Hungary; but the frog wasn't kissed, but shagged, to turn it into a prince. After the transformation “they hastened to celebrate the wedding, so that the christening might not follow it too soon.”

In an early version of Rumpelstiltskin, the dwarf is so enraged that he “drove his right foot so far into the ground that it sank in up to his waist; then in a passion he seized the left foot with both hands and tore himself in two”

Finally, here is the opening line of one of Grimm’s finest: "Once upon a time three companions lived together in peace, and wonderfully increased their possessions. They were a mouse, a bird and a sausage”

356613.  Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:51 am Reply with quote

A performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at a Japanese primary school has been reported as having a cast of 25 Snow Whites, no dwarfs and no wicked witch. This was due to the pressure put on the school by what the Japanese press are calling “Monster Parents”.

356762.  Mon Jun 09, 2008 9:05 am Reply with quote

Bruno Bettelheim's book The Uses of Enchantment suggests that traditional fairy tales (ie not Disneyfied pap!) gave children a symbolic structure which they could use in play and imagination to allow them to deal with their fears, encourage their emotional growth and get a sense of the meaning and purpose of their lives. He believed that the traditional tales had evolved in societies for that purpose.

One example he gave was the use of wicked witches and wicked stepmothers in fairy tales. Children are often angry with their mothers when their mothers thwart or punish them, but that's not a very safe emotional place for young children to be in, because they also need their mothers for safety and nurturing. So - enter the wicked witch or stepmother, at whom anger can safely be directed because she's not your real mother. That's one small example. It's a fascinating book.


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