Fairy tales are very important because they have a super impactful role in society, especially with kids. Ashliman went over four functions of fairy tales, but their effects extend far. The expression of fears and taboos led to the development of poetry and political cartoons. Fairy tales answer important questions that a kid would normally ask. From the origin of the world to what is right & wrong, children have a wide range of difficult questions. Instead of answering them directly, parents would be better off telling a story that contains elements relevant to their questions.
Bruno Bettelheim’s essay The Struggle for Meaning is about raising children to have meaningful lives. He argues that fairy tales are important because they efficiently teach moral values. One of his points is that stories that intend to teach something need to be captivating. They have to stimulate the imagination. Vigen Guroian argues the same thing in his book, Tending the Heart of Virtue.
One thing I learned is how recent the connection between fairy tales and childhood is. Fairy/Folk tales were mostly for adults. These tales were quite violent and inappropriate. The target audience then shifted to the family as a whole. Some censorship was due, but a few things managed to go over kids’ heads. Nowadays, fairy tales are mainly for children. Childhood as a concept is only a few centuries old, mind you. Regardless, anyone can enjoy fairy tales – everyone likes a good story!
I decided to take this freshman seminar section because the topic appealed to me. I knew just enough about fairy tales to like them, but not enough to think there wasn’t more to learn. I loved seeing how fairy tales changed over the years. It was really interesting to see how fairy tales experience polygenesis. The same archetypal stories and characters pop up all over the world, even if the cultures have never interacted.
Overall, I think our classwork was enjoyable and educational. One idea for a fun writing assignment is watching a Disney movie and reading the textbook’s version of the same story. Then, we could compare and contrast different thematic elements. For example, The Little Mermaid goes through major changes from the text to the screen. Tangled is another example for this assignment.
-Tomas Beas Romero