Child Heroes in Fairy Tales

Child Heroes in Fairy TalesAs you might imagine, Fairy Tales are primarily centered on children. Whether they are designed for children, or children are the main characters, children are almost always involved. This week, I read a series of fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel, The Juniper Tree, Molly Whuppie, Little Thumbling, The Rose Tree, and Pippity Pew) that specifically featured Child Heroes. My favorites out of this selection was The Juniper tree and Molly Whuppie. In the Juniper Tree, a stepson is killed by his stepmother (rather brutally I might add) and is buried under a Juniper tree. He is changed by the Juniper tree into a beautiful and large bird. This bird goes around singing the song of his death, and in return gathering “presents” for his family. In the end, he brings his sister red shoes, his father a gold chain, and his stepmother a giant millstone, which he threw on her in order to kill her. Once the stepmother was dead, the family celebrated. The stepson is the one who is considered the hero. This is obvious because everybody loves this bird/stepson and celebrates the fact that it killed the stepmother. Even if I hadn’t assumed that this bird was the stepson (which I imagine the people in the story had not), I’m not sure I would have gone out and celebrat

ed so quickly! In Freud’s point of view, he would probably say that they had already hated/ resented the stepmother for more than just the boy’s death ( for example, the father was told that the son went away,

not that he was murdered by the stepmother) . In the case of Molly Whuppie, the heroism is much more obvious. Molly Whuppie was the youngest child of 6 (Three were abandoned because of famine). Much like in Hansel and Gretel, they were abandoned in the woods. Molly and her sisters came across a house in the woods and knocked on the door. A seemingly nice lady answered, and said that she would recommend they leave, because her husband was mean, and didn’t like company (that was the main gist, go read the story for more!) . Molly and her sisters stay there during the night anyways, and the husband tries to kill them, but Molly saves herself and her sisters through trickery. They escape and go to a kingdom where a king tells Molly that if she returns to the man’s house and steals a variety of things, her and her sisters will get to marry his sons. Molly goes back to the house in the woods three different times, resulting in the death of the man’s children and wife, and the marriage of herself and her sisters. Clearly, Molly is the hero. She has defeated the bad man in more ways than one (inadvertently killing his family and stealing his prized possessions). She has saved her sisters, and she has created a better life for them through her good deeds (well, good deeds according to the kingdom). And she was able to save herself from famine, and death through cleverness and bravery. If you were to ask Freud, he would probably say something along the lines of; Molly was trying to replace her ande her sisters parent figures with herself and that since she was the youngest, she subconsciously felt that she had to do those things to gain acceptance and prove herself as a human being. Overall, these stories were really fantastic, and I really recommend you read them if you haven’t already! What other fairy tales do you know that have Child Heroes in them? Do you find yourself wanting to be like them in any way? Can you use Freud to apply some depth to those stories?

– Meena

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Posted on February 17, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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