Final Exam Reflection

Fairy tales matter because they allow us to play out situations that we would never get to otherwise, explore places that don’t exist in the physical world, and learn about who we are from a world that isn’t quite our own. Every time we play pretend as little kids or daydream as adults we incorporate elements of magic and adventure from fairy tales. Fairy tales give us a way to escape our own world for a few minutes in order to step back and place our problems in a new context perhaps giving us new ways to approach them. Maria Tartar talks about the ability of Fairy Tales to allow us exploration in “Why Fairy Tales Matter”. She states that they enable us to subjunctivize, which she defines as the ability to explore what  “might be, could have been, [and] perhaps will be”  (Tartar 56).  That ability is what I think makes them important both generally and personally.  This class surprised me in two ways. The first was that fairytales could be read with an analytical view and lead to sophisticated discussions about the stories, the times and places they come from, and our world today. I always associated fairy tales in their pure form with children; that they were not much more than cute entertainment and I have now learned they can be so much more. The second way I was surprised was from the stories themselves I knew the originals could be violent but didn’t anticipate the extent of adult themes in stories like Blackbeard, Donkey Skin, or even the more sexual nature of the oral version(s) of Little Red Riding Hood. This comes in turn with the surprise that these stories weren’t exclusively written for children and some of them weren’t for children at all. I wish we would have had a chance to explore a few stories or versions from outside Europe such as collections from South America, Asia, Russia, China, Africa, or the Middle East.  In the first reading from Ashliman, he discusses collections of stories from around the world like 1001 Arabian Nights or the Panchatantra. I think it would have been interesting not only to see fairytales/folk tales that were unfamiliar to us, much like we saw in Spirited Away but also to have had a chance to find what elements these stories shared across cultures and time.

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