Gabriella Reyes

Ms. Scott

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ENC 1102

December 10, 2017                                                                                                                            

Life
lessons in fairy tales.

 

Fairy tales have been a
vessel for life lessons since their inception in ancient times.  Fairy tales were traditionary oral, and came
long before books or the written language. 
The fairy tales were reenacted dramatically or spoken by a storyteller,
handing the fairy tale down from generation to generation.  In old-fashioned fairy tales, morals characteristically
focus on the preservation of existing values and the conservation of social standards.
 Many of those values held families and
communities together in an unsympathetic world, empowering them not only to
survive but also sometimes to flourish and succeed.  Fairy tales have also been abused and used as
a tool for malevolent values and behavior. 
In every fairy tale there is a life lesson but not everyone will agree
on the lesson being taught.  Many of our
well-known fairy tales have been changed to fit the views of a child.  Do you agree with all the life lessons being taught
from fairy tales?

First lets us define what
a fairy tale is, according the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Fairy tales are “simple
children’s stories about magical creatures.”  Illuminating this explanation further, they
are commonly cautionary stories used to communicate to children about what is ethical
and unethical in world, allowing them to mature into a proper adult.  The term fairy tale came to England from
France. Translations added the phrase fairy tales to their titles.  For example, the Grimm brothers’ Kinder- und
Hausmdrchen (Children’s and Household Tales) similarly had their most famous
fairy tale assortment become known as a book of fairy tales several decades
later and only after the work was translated into English.

Not all ancient philosophers
and storytellers agreed on adults for telling fairy tales to children.  Plato and Socrates criticized and cautioned
adults for telling fairy tales to children that would prove false when the
children matured.  A recently published
study from the year 2008, may finally provide scientific support to Socrates
and Plato’s concern.  The study
investigated children’s ability to generate interpretations from stories containing
of false material.  The children would
read a couple short passages, followed by sentences that they had to judge as
true or false.  The passages and matching
sentences were either true in terms of real world knowledge, or were presented
as fairy tales.  When the passages were
based on a fairy tale, the children’s response was slower.  The fact that these judgements are at a slower
rate in fairy stories than in real world stories may be a side effect of the
suspension of disbelief.  This means that
the child had rationalize and translate the story into the “real world” before
they could fully digest the content of the story.  This study demonstrates that the use of fairy
tales as a moral may not be effective in young children.  The moral may take longer for young children
to comprehend and learn because they have to associate the moral lesson to the
real world.

Socrates and Plato’s
rejection of fantasy literature for children was not popular among folktale
translators, who in the mid-17th century usually have utilized the
stories to promote desirable behavior, both for children and adults.  Charles Perrault is one of the most significant
fairy tale writers in French storybook history.  The foundations for the literary genre of the
fairy tale were laid by the French author, Charles Perrault. Charles Perrault’s
work was derived from pre-existing fairy tales.  All of Charles Perrault’s Fairy Tales are
didactic with the morals are especially easy to derive. Kind and selfless acts
result in happiness and prosperity.  Whereas
unkind behavior brings misery, even death. In addition to supernatural rewards
and punishments, Perrault’s tale illustrates another quality often found in
fairy tales: the symbolic use of precious stones or metals.  Charles Perrault is best known of for his
interpretations of “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge” (Little Red Riding Hood), “Cendrillon”
(Cinderella), “Le Chat Botté” (Puss in Boots), “La Belle au bois Dormant” (The
Sleeping Beauty), and “Barbe Bleue” (Bluebeard).  Some of Perrault’s interpretations of influenced
the German versions published by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th
century.

In 19th century
Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm conceived their Kinder- und Hausmdrchen
(Children’s and Household Tales) as a tool of national pedagogy.  The Grimm brothers viewed their collection of
fairy tales as part of a plan to reaffirm the cultural identity of the German
folk.  The brothers described their
collection of fairy tales as an educational guide.  Grimm brothers used the tales to convey useful
social, moral, and sometimes religious lessons for children.  Grimm brothers used the tales also to educate
the German people about German character and culture.  The Grimms’ tales became the basis for
children’s books and were included in schools for reading.  After Germany had attained nationhood at the
end of the 19th century, the Children’s and Household Tales became
part of the Prussian school curriculum.

In
the 20th century, the Nazi propaganda took advantage of the Grimms’
tales place in the German educational system.  The Nazi propaganda machine also took
advantage of the Grimms’ tales close association with the idea of German
national character.  Forced into the
service of Nazi propaganda, Grimms’ tales were utilized to teach National
Socialist philosophy.  This misuse of
fairy tales during the Third Reich ultimately led to the removal fairy tales
from the school curriculum by occupation forces following the end of World War
II.  This misuse also led to both East
and West German educators and children’s supporters to deliberate about the
role of fairy tales in children’s literature and education.  One side contended against their use and other
side wanted to reuse them to possibility literate the harm done.

The reassessment of the
fairy tale’s educational role and potential happened internationally in synchronization
with the onset of the children’s rights movement in the 1960s.  Educators and authors found innovative ways of
reusing fairy tales to challenge traditional philosophies and to inspire
critical thought amongst children.  The
Italian educator Gianni Rodari wrote pioneering fairy tales and also established
practices and approaches that educators could use to renew the liberating possibility
of storytelling and fantasy.  Rodari’s unique
educational ideas influenced many schools and the educators throughout the globe.
One example of an innovative educational concept is the use of fairy tales to
teach a foreign language.  Fairy tales
are now commonly utilized by educators in foreign language instruction because
of their simple language.  Many
educational articles have been written describing how educators use fairy tales
to instruct precise skills and grammatical principles.

As we begin the 21st
century, renewed focus on character education is more obvious than before.  Tragic events inside and around the school
districts and a surge in the number of juvenile detentions remind us that
something in the core values of our children has gone askew.  One hypothesis made by educators in general is
that many of these children are not receiving moral instruction at home.  Modern adaptations of fairy tales take
creative liberty to an extreme with some of the violence removed.  This understandable in today’s day and age,
but the retellings do not seem to be about teaching children the life lessons as
they once did.  This is not the case
these days.  Modern retelling of fairy
tales appears to portray the basic morals of the story, but it’s told
differently and shown differently than back then.  The modern fairy tale “Wicked” shows how life
is rarely black or white. The story portrays the wicked witch of the west sympathetically
and demonstrated that humans are complex creatures who sometimes make ill-conceived
choices.  In the land of traditional
fairy tales, issues are never clouded. Good triumphs and evil is punished.  One example is of the by Grimms’ stories it brings
the reader to a real distinction between good and evil.  The witch in “Hansel and Gretel” was so evil that
she used bait to lure the children into her clutches with a house built of yummy
cookies.  Good was triumphant over evil,
as the children succeeded in out smarting the witch at her own game.  Knowing and understanding fairy tales enhances
the lives of children and grownups. 

Today’s culture seems to
be progressively more violent, molding the character and moral values of today’s
youth should be of the upmost importance for educators.  For that reason, maybe we need to revitalize
the children’s fairy tales as a tool of national pedagogy.  The Grimm brothers’ tales impart the readers
valuable life lessons, even if not all of the moral philosophies are straightforwardly
understood.  Since the inception of the fairy
tale, they have strengthened the attitudes of readers toward life,
relationships, and moral standards.

One example from Grimm’s
collection first fairy tales is “The Frog Prince.”  The message in this fairy tale is made clear.  We have to agree to stay loyal to the
commitments that we make, regardless of the situations in which the commitments
were made.  When we stay loyal to our
commitments and keep our promises, everything will turn out fine.

 

Another message is that
making rash promises can have adverse consequences.  There are more fairy tales from Grimm’s
collection that deal with making rash promises in exchange for favors.  In “Rumpelstiltskin,” the queen promised to
give her first child to Rumpelstiltskin if he could change the queens’ straw
into gold.  In “Rapunzel,” in exchange for
food growing in the witch’s garden, the father promised his child.  In the end, although the rash promises should
never have been made.  Good prevailed,
and the stories ended happily. In all of the of the Grimm brothers’ tales good
and evil are ever-present. In the fairy tale “Cinderella,” the wicked sisters win
for a short time in taking the place of what fairly belongs to the Cinderella.  The moral of the fairy tale is not that evil characters
are being punished at the fairy tale’s conclusion.  Instead, fairy tales parallel real life, punishment
or fear of it is only a partial warning to wrongdoing.  In fairy tales evil characters always loses because
the principle that crime does not pay is a much more effective warning.

There have been a lot of
fairy tales from the Grimm brothers that have demonstrated a range of character
qualities in storybook form.  The fairy
tales are written to deliver a stimulating story that attracts the attention of
children and young adults.  The fairy
tales deliver their story while suggesting the moral core virtues.  These fantastic ancient stories are comprised
of some of the most genuine human emotions and attempted to satisfy the basic
human desire for beauty, honesty, accomplishment, and belonging.  Fairy tales work on our culture to
communicate to children the right way to choose for themselves what is right
and what is wrong.

Fairy tales have been
around for centuries and we learn many lessons from them.  It has been debated for many years if fairy
tales are instilling valuable morals in our children.  We learned that good always triumphs evil
from many fairy tales such as “Hansel and Gretel” and “Cinderella.”  So, what do you believe about life lessons
being taught through fairy tales? 

 

 

 

 

 

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