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Let’s Sum It All Up, Shall We?

This semester had been a crazy one, that’s for sure. We have looked at so many different fairy tales from all corners of the world and have deciphered each and every one of them till we could decipher no more. I have learned so much about fairy and folk tales from this class. I have truly been enlightened through all this reading and writing that we have had to do. I have learned how to analyze a story by using Freudian and Jungian psychology. I have learned how to catch the meaning of a motif, and be able to tell a person all about it till they’re sick of me talking. ( I’m actually pretty proud of this new skill!) And I have learned how to compare stories that seem completely different to each other. Each fairy tale we read was special in its own way, and this allowed me to discover the different cultures that lie within those stories. I am so thrilled that I got the privilege to enjoy this class to the fullest. I sincerely recommend this class to anyone who has a passion for psychology, fairy tales, and a variety of cultures! 

A Variety of Tales

This week we had two visitors come and tell our class stories. The first person we had was Dr.Ochieng. He was so very interesting! He made us sing and dance and told us african fairy tales. It was probably the best class I have ever had, certainly a real treat! The other person that came in was Dr. Alles. He was also pretty interesting, but the stories he was telling us were pretty difficult to chew. The stories he told us were Indian stories. And no, not Native American Indian. Indian, as in India. None of those stories really flowed well or made much sense. I believe it might of been partly because some of the story might have gotten lost in translation. Either way, these stories had things in common! They both had community ties. Pretty much all the stories were about things that had happened in a community. Both kinds of stories described the way things were. For example, when a child asks why a monkey doesn’t swim, a story would come about as to why this was. Both types of stories had religious connections as well. They were very traditional, and showed the beliefs of each location that they came from. Finally, both types of stories were always told orally. They were passed on to different generations through a story time that they usually had a night time to signify the end of the day. Overall, I was very glad that these two Professors came in and enlightened me. When listening to the stories, I thought about the Native American stories we had read the previous week and instantly made connections between all three. They are all very much alike! The Native American stories have the exact same elements of the other two types of stories! These stories can be found on the internet and in books (because someone was nice enough to write them down so all can see, thank goodness!) so go read them! Let me know what you think! Can you find any differences? What other things do these tales have in common?
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Hier Kommt Die Sonne

Snow White is a fairy tale that has a lot of motifs and symbols in it. These symbols are typically instantly recognized in everyday life. When you see a juicy red apple you think of the poisoned apple that the witch gave to Snow White. When you see someone sleeping and kiss them awake you think of Snow White. But have you thought of the other powerful motifs that can be found in this story? Rammstein has! Rammstein created a video for their song “Sonne” that is based entirely around the Snow White tale. This video is dark and powerful.

Here, go watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIBeYoP9Wi0. 

Some of the motifs you may have not thought of before are really brought out in this video. The red shoe for example. When Snow White plants her foot on the table it’s supposed to stand for power. The power of a woman to be exact. Red shoes can also be found in many other fairy tales. This music video also demonstrates how much of a sexual figure she is. She is powerful and seemingly in control of the “dwarves”. They seem however to not mind that she is really dominating them. Another motif is the snowy mountain, and the bridal veil that she wears in her tomb. The snowy mountain represents the all seeing. The mountain is a powerful place. It is beautiful and protective. They put her on top of the mountain for that reason. The bridal veil represents the “contract” if you will, that she had with the men. It was very much like signing a wedding contract when she agreed to live with them in the story and do the cleaning and whatnot. The showing of this veil in the video represents exactly that. Though this video seems to really deconstruct what we know to be the story of Snow White, I have to say it is right on the mark for telling the unknown story. I really enjoy all the alternate areas this video explores. I hope you do too. 
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Native American Folk Tales

This week in class, we had to read a variety of different Native American folk tales. I have to say that I have enjoyed all of these stories immensely. Not only are they unique in their own way (because of the stories originating from a different culture) but they are also really awesome.

The difference between a Native American folk tale and any other folk tale is that these stories have a more obvious message. Many folk tales from other cultures dance around a hidden theme, but these always get straight to the point. Not only are they straightforward, but they also demonstrate strong family and religious values. For example, in one of the stories I read about a young boy and elk dogs, there was strong family involvement. There was a family that took a boy in even though he was considered stupid. When he wanted to thank the family for taking him in, he went off into the woods to find these coveted elk dogs. No one had made it back from this journey before. The young boy returned and brought great honor on his family. This showed his thankfulness, and the overall importance of family in these tales.

Though there are a lot of different things about Native American folk tales vs stories from other cultures, there are also things that these tales have in common. The main thing that I have found is that pretty much all folk tales have a representation of a Archetype. Most commonly found is the Trickster. I have yet to see a genre of fair/folk tales without the presence of a Trickster.

ImageAll in all, I really enjoyed reading Native American folk tales, and I highly recommend that you read some! Not only will you enjoy yourself, but you’ll get some culture as well! 

From Rags to Riches

ImageMost everyone knows the story of Cinderella. It’s the most well known and typical rags to riches story. The question is though, how realistic is this? In the stories I have read in class, most of the Cinderella-like tales were about “rags to riches through magic and marriage”. There was typically some form of magic that provided help to the Cinderella character. This lead her to her “fairy tale” ending. In the Disney movie case, the magic was absolutely necessary. Without magic, she would have remained where she was in her life, and would have never met the prince. Because magic was involved, she was allowed to do so many great things. If asked, “could this happen in real life?” most people would say “No Way!” I disagree. I think there are definitely magical things that happen to normal people in real life. I believe in fate. I think someone could most assuredly grow up in a terrible situation, and then when they get older they have their lives turned around. People can change this through marriage or even meeting a random person on the street. You never know who can/will change your life. For all those people out there who feel down in the dumps about having a horrible life, you too can end up like Cinderella! Just keep your chin held high and continue on believing that anything can happen! Overall, Cinderella is a great fairy tale, and everyone should look to it to make them feel better when they’re having a bad day.

Bluebeard: A Very Strange Tale.

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Bluebeard may be one of the most interesting stories I have ever read. Not only does it break all the norms of a regular fairy tale, but it is also one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read in my life. Just as a disclaimer, I would not recommend that any parent read this to their child. In fact, I would suggest that a parent let their child come upon this story on their own. Although I seem rather against this story, I have to say that it is one of my favorites. The imagery that the writers use in any of the Bluebeard tales is amazing and frightening. This story breaks the norms of a regular fairy tale because it does not have a happy ending (in most versions of the tale). It also is very out there. It does not start like most fairy tales where there is a rags to riches situation. Instead, It is a riches to death situation. In Bluebeard, there is a man who tells his wife/future wife not to enter a certain room while he is away. She disobeys and of course she finds something horrible in the room; dead bodies everywhere, blood soaking the floor,  a chopping block with an axe nearby. When the man comes home, he finds that she has entered the room. He is very angry and murders her(or tries to). When Bluebeard first gets these women, he is looking for the most attractive and young. He is not an attractive man, but they go with him anyways. That is really not typical at all for a fairy tale. Typically, there is a rich man, and a poor/unattractive girl. The girl pines for the handsome man, and in the end, he puts all things aside and they end up happily ever after. I like this story the most because it is so different. And it is so beautifully disturbing. It is the only fairy tale ive ever really read about a serial killer. Or a super crazy man who keeps dead people in a room in his house. It reminds me of Criminal Minds the tv show! It’s really amazing, and I like it very much. Call me disturbed, but I really like mixing things up and discovering taboos that people like to avoid!

A Jungian View of Fairy Tales

You can relate fairy tales to Jungian psychoanalysis very simply. From my previous posts, you can already tell that fairy tales have a much deeper meaning (or you can pull out different meanings for yourself) then it seems. Jungian psychology has a lot to do with Archetypes and Personality types.

An Archetype is is a universally understood symbol or pattern of behavior. Some examples of Archetypes are the Ego, the Shadow, and the Self. Lets talk specifically about the Shadow Archetype for a moment. The Shadow typically represents the villain in the fairy tale. An example of a Shadow character would be Hades from Hercules, or Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. These characters are dark-souled, and the opposite of the good guy (which is the Ego Archetype). Shadows are necessary in a fairy tale. I have never personally read a fairy tale without a villain.

You can definitely apply the different Personality types to different characters in fairy tales too. Some Personality types are Introvert, Extrovert, Thinking and Feeling. An example of an introvert might be Cinderella. She’s quiet and does what she is told, spending most of her time inside. An Extrovert might be Madam Mim from The Sword In The Stone. She is boisterous, and is never afraid to do what she needs to get her way. As for thinking and feeling personalities, you could look at Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore. Winnie the Pooh is always trying to find a solution to whatever problem arises in the Hundred Acre Wood, where as Eeyore is always sitting there moping about. He is always talking about how he is feeling about the situation instead of actively trying to find a solution. 

Overall, Jung, and other influential psychologists have had many good points when it comes to the brain and the way we act. Pretty much all of the theories that Jung, and others, have explained are all visible in one way or another in fairy tales.Image

Little Red Riding Hood?

This version of Little Red Riding Hood is completely far off from what most people know. I find it rather interesting though. Let’s start off by pulling some similarities and differences from the “traditional” LRRH we know.

  • First off. Little girl, in the woods, heading to her grandmothers house. She stops to pick flowers after meeting a wolf in those woods. She tells the wolf shes heading to grandmothers. After this point, everything is different. As you can see, the wolf does not actually eat the girl or the grandmother. Instead he is in disguise when the girl gets there not so he can eat her, but so he can hide the fact that the grandmother has disappeared in the closet. The wolf and the grandmother run off together to get married.
  • I guess you could say that both have sexuality connections. In this version, the grandmother gets well before little red arrives. In this version, the wolf has a wife and family. In this version, everything seems to be more innocent (or less grotesque if you will).
  • Overall, I found this version of LRRH very satisfying and refreshing. I enjoyed the way the wolf was presented (especially when he was in the car, and the car was “walking”) and I really love the twist that was put on the grandmother. In most little red stories, it is the girl who is meant to “seduce” the wolf. It is interesting that it is the other way around in this portrayal.
  • Walt Disney did a fantastic job on this little sketch!

(By the way, the LRRH sketch ends around 7 mins in.)

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

What is a Fairy Tale?: How I See it.

What is a Fairy Tale?: How I See it.

Fairy tales are beautiful and sacred things. They can range from being a children’s fantasy to a children’s worst nightmare. They have this inner power to be so diverse, but also so specific. To me, a fairy tale is a way to explore ones inner self. A fairy tale is humanity. A fairy tale is how we really feel. If one were to really decipher the meaning of a fairy tale, It would be best to look at Freud’s show of Id, ego, and superego. In my eyes, a fairy tale is represented by the Id: The most basic desires. For example, in the story The Juniper Tree, the stepmother hates her step-son, so instead of just letting her hate pass, she murders him by chopping off his head with the lid of a heavy trunk. She hated him, and deep down she felt that she should kill him. Instead of having some reasoning (ego or superego), she just did it. If you would want to compare the fairy tale to yourself, you could imagine how you want to react when your significant other cheats on you, or when you get second place in a competition. You end up hating whoever got first, or whoever cheated on you, right? But you don’t just go out and kill them. You say to yourself “No, no, that’s not a good plan”. You have reasoning. Imagine your childhood without these fairy tales. Would you have gained such morals? Would you have noticed the total reaction of your actions? In the story, the murdered child turns into a bird and kills the stepmother with a huge mill stone. This teaches children, that for every bad impulse and action, there will be an equal, if not worse, reaction. In summary, I feel that fairy tales show what is right and wrong through drastic means of story-telling.