Sunday, November 22, 2015


Upon reading my pervious blog posts and reflecting about what I have learned in class, I have relished in a greater appreciation for the Brother's Gimm and their fairy tales.

Rereading these stories, as an older and more educated individual rather than a child, has allowed me to recognize the underlying features, motifs, and morals one can take from these tales. The concept of inner conflict and the symbolization of wolves and other evils as our own inner demons can give us a stronger sense of self and confidence. It is our fears that need to be vanquished in order for us to learn and grow as individuals.

Additionally, I have learned that the Zeitgeist is ever important in the appropriation of fairy tales. Whether it's Disney, Perrault, or the Grimms themselves, authors and directors edit, revise, and rewrite fairy tales for the present. These tales are always changing and will continue to do so, but their values and mysticism will continue on as relics.

Now looking back into my past blog posts, I can summarize a few key points for you.

1. I believe I have accomplished what it was that I was looking for out of this class. That being "to gain a better understanding of the Grimm's fairy tales, regarding their underlying themes and reflection of German culture."

2. Legends, myths, and fairy tales all share a common ground but they are by no means the same. But one thing to note is that magic lies at the heart of a fairy tales.

3. The characterization in the MGM film portrayal of "Hansel & Gretel" is not reflective of the original tale. However, both display the coming of age story, that focuses on children's need to learn and fend for them selves.

4. We always enjoy rooting for the underdog (a lot of the time because we see ourselves in them) and the story of Cinderella/Aschenputtel is the epitome of the "rags to riches" that we all crave.

5. The film version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is called that for a reason. Mostly because the dwarfs become a focal of the film and Snow White is reduced to a helpless, feeble girl.

6. The "beauty and the beast" motif is present in both the fairy tale of "The Frog King" and the myth of "Cupid and Psyche."

7. Disney's "The Big Bad Wolf," is a fun short film playing off both the Grimm's tale of "Little Red Cap" and the story of "The Three Little Pigs."

8. The tales of "Bluebeard," "The Robber Bridegroom," and "Fitcher's Bird" all hold the commonality almost unheard of in any fairy tale: getting married to a nightmare.

9. Disney's "Tangled" can be seen as an innovation of a common fairy tale and a lesson for todays society, that sheltering children is hindering their growth, happiness, and understanding of the world.

10. I've learned a lot this past semester, and hope to continually see the motifs and joys of the fairy tales (by the Brothers Grimm and others) in my life.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tangled: Death of the Fairy Tale?

Many critics hate on Disney for the industry's appropriation of what are known has cherished, cultural and historical tales. For taking the original fairy tales and turning them into "castrated specters of their former selves." Or so says the author of Tangled and the Death of the Disney Fairy Tale (Elena Nola), who claims that fairy tales are of no use to us now, that "we have outlived their usefulness as parables."

But I disagree. To the fullest extent. Fairy tales have and always will be an insight into the human existence, a universe in miniature (as Lüthi says), and a cultivation of our fears, hopes, and morality that is transparent both through time and culture.

First things first, if the main complaint is that Disney altered the tales, then you might have some beef with the Brothers Grimm themselves. I can guarantee that between the Grimms' original Ölenberg Manuscript and their 7th and final edition of Kinder und Hausmärchen, there are some glaring differences between plots, characters, and motifs.

But I am not saying this to bash on the Brothers Grimm. I truly believe that they captured a relic of German culture/social reality and made it their own; deservingly labeling themselves in the name of fairy tales, now and forever.

My point however is one simple word... Zeitgeist!ärchen_(Grimm)_1840_I_A_001.jpg

Now lets talk about this in reference to "Rapunzel" and "Tangled." Nola claims that "Tangled" was the last straw for Disney. That the film crosses into the hopelessness for society's need for cherished parables and undying motifs, because the only thing left for us to fear is fear itself.

In the original tale of "Rapunzel" by the Brothers Grimm, the story portrays the the full length maturation of a girl. Rapunzel is born and locked in a tower when she turns 12 (a pivotal age in female maturation). She then meets a prince (who she initially is frightened of) and they fall in love. However, after she becomes pregnant, she is  banished to a desolate land. But the happy end holds true once her prince finds her again. Not only does the story follow the line of female maturation, but exemplifies the fact that it cannot be stopped. No tower too tall, no evil too strong; we must all grow up.

Another motif is the value of knowledge and exploration. It is not until Rapunzel gains the knowledge of the outside word that she is happy. When she can finally leave her isolation and begin her life.

"Tangled" may have deviated from the original "Rapunzel," but similar motifs hold true; motifs that exemplify societies need for a parable look to the past. The main theme in the film is indeed the fear of fear itself. But is that not worthy of attention?

In today's society there is a parental obsession to shelter children. To lock them in towers, and tell them they're special and need protection from the dangers of the outside world. Tangled shows us that this is wrong. We NEED the knowledge and exploration that comes with growing up. Kids need to get in trouble, go on a dangerous adventure, have their heart broken, and enjoy all the pain and anguish that comes along with it. Because that's what makes you into a strong and accomplished adult. We are robbing kids of their childhood by shunning them into the oblivion of security. But "Tangled" reminds us, through the use of a common story, a cherished relic, a timeless tale, that society needs a blast to the past in order to cherish the future.

The underlying themes and motifs of the Grimms' fairy tales are universal and though the Zeitgeist is constantly changing, humanities need for their values doesn't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bluebeard: The Fitcher's Bridegroom

The tales of "The Robber Bridegroom" and "Fitcher's Bird" by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault's "Bluebeard" all fall along the same lines. Each story follows a female protagonist who marries or is soon to marry a man who they each discover to be evil and murderous.

In Perrault's "Bluebeard," the youngest daughter agrees to marry Bluebeard after he throws a grandiose party. After their marriage he leaves on a business trips (very typical), but grants her a ring of keys, one of which opens a room she is forbidden to enter. Despite his warning, her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers the chopped up bodies of Bluebeard's past wives inside the room. Upon this shocking discovery, she drops the golden key that allowed her in and it is permanently stained by their blood. Bluebeard finds out and decides he must kill her, but she begs to have time to pray first. She stalls long enough for her brothers to arrive and kill Bluebeard.

The Grimms' "Fitcher's Bird" follows a very similar plot line. However, the girl is given an egg rather than a key. The tale also follows the death of the 2 sisters preceding the protagonist and even has her bring them back to life. In order to save herself and her sisters, she covers herself in honey and feathers so no one can recognize her. She is then able to trick her bridegroom into returning to their home (after making him unknowingly carry her sisters back to her parents) and burn him alive along with their wedding guests. The protagonist in this story is much more active and cunning than those the other two tales.

The story of "The Robber Bridegroom" doesn't fit the same plot structure as the first two tales. Instead, the protagonist ventures into the woods in search of her prince bridegroom, but is warned of his villainous ways by an old woman. She then hides in the cellar behind a barrel and must listen as the prince returns and kills her grandmother. He cuts off her finger and it lands right in the princesses lap. She is able to escape back home and tells her father of what happened. Instead of simply having her father's men go out and kill the prince immediately the princess decides to play him the fool. He comes to her, inquiring as to why she had not arrived, and she explains her "dream" to him (a retelling of the previous nights occurrences). She then pulls out the finger he had cut off her grandmother and shows him that she knows what he has done. It is only then that her father's guards have the                    prince and the other robbers executed.

My favorite of the 3 tales was "Fitcher's Bird," because I admired how cunning the protagonist was, especially because of the typical passive portrayal of females characters in fairytales. I did not like that Perrault added morals to the end of his story. I think it takes away from the imagination and intuition of the reader. Additionally, the first moral was extremely sexist and offensive. I enjoyed "The Robber Bridegroom," but found it unnecessarily gory. Though many fairy tales fall into the same category.

The biggest difference between these tales and other Grimms' tales is the portrayal of marriage. Instead of the typical happy end, it is the horrible beginning to the protagonists marriage to a nightmare. These 3 stories may have different plots lines, but they all share a common motif.