Thursday, May 9, 2013

Last Blog Post

When looking at what I had hoped for this semester in this class, I feel like my goals were accomplished. I came into this wanted to be able to see fairy tales in a new and more mature light. After just knowing the basics of these stories from a young age, I definitely had a great time learning about them from more psychological and theme oriented views. I have learned the importance of colors, numbers, clothing, lack of one gender, names, etc. and what they say about the meaning of the story. Looking back, I definitely say it was a fun ride. I feel like it was a very good selection of a variety of stories that gave us a good idea of how archetypes can be seen in all different cultures with that culture's zeitgeist. I was definitely challenged to think outside the box and to not limit my own knowledge and understanding to get in the way of being open to new ways of looking at these stories. The reading for this class was a good amount and I feel like it was enough to cover the discussed stories but not overbearing. Overall, I really did have a great time in this class and I feel like I learned a whole lot.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Native American Folk Tales 
As much as I would have loved to have talked about the Jewish folk tales, I just knew I had to talk about the Native American tales. I have always been interested in Native American culture and real recently I have been intrigued in justice issues pertaining to Native Americans. What I find to be very interesting about the situation as a whole is that no one is talking about it! Here we have people who are being marginalized and greatly ignored, and yet nobody really knows or care to know. Right now, it seems to be that the equality issues that are popular and fought for are those of women, African American, and homosexuals. I am in absolutely no way saying these are not important issues to be fighting for justice and equality in, but with such a large passion being stirred right now amongst many people, how come the Native Americans are still being marginalized. The issues of rights pertaining to them is being marginalized on the list of people being marginalized!... Sorry I kind of got off on a tangent. Back to folklore. I love Native American folklore. For my Senior year Honors History project I had to research N. Scott Momoday and his literary works. He is a brilliant author and a great advocate for his people. Through his novels and poems, he has been able to both show how rich in culture Native American's are, and also how they are struggling as a people. When I read the short stories and poems that he wrote, I feel in love with Native American tales. What I love so much about them is that it mixes in a lot of beliefs and explanations of why things are. Like in the tale we read of "How Men and Women Got Together", there is a wonderfully creative depiction of how though men and women may be different, they can come together and live, procreate, enjoy each others company, etc. Or like in the "How mosquitoes came to be" story you can see the same thing. I think what I see in these stories is more of an understanding of the necessity of culture preservation. These stories were told to teach children not necessarily only lessons, but also why it was important to live in the society and abide in the culture.  With the European stories we have read, they were only written down as a means to preserve culture, but it does not seem like they were told with that goal in mind. Overall, I love Native American folk tales and they will always have a special place in my heart.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

African-American Story-Telling Tradition
I found that Dr. Johnson-Ross' lecture on African American story-telling traditions to be very interesting on an information level, but that is not why I enjoyed it as much as I did. What made her lecture so awesome to behold was how she talked about the subject. It was very apparent that she took great pride in this, and there is great reason for that. Dr. Johnson-Ross grew up throughout the Civil Rights Movement, was in the first desegregated high school class for her school, and her sister is very active in the African American literary community. It is one thing to talk about something you have knowledge about, but it is a whole different thing learning the same exact information but from someone who has the passion behind it from what it meant to them and still means to them as it has shaped them throughout their life. It is like when Dr. Esa talks about things that pertain to German culture or folk beliefs. You can just see how personal it is because it is a part of who he is. Anyway, the lecture was really sweet hearing all of how things were done with the passing on and the telling of the stories. The people and places are very important when it comes to the oral tradition. Within the community, the stories would be told around the ginormous Baobab Tree.  The Baobab Tree is a giant tree that grows in Sub-Saharan where tribes would build their villages around, making it the center of the village. The people who would tell these stories were usually the Griots and Griottes. These people were the Oral Traditionalists, among many other things such as historians, diplomats, translators, musicians, and teachers. They were supported by the local ruling power to preserve the culture of the people. This is where I feel as though there is a difference between the European folk tales and African inspired tales. In European culture, the tales reflected the zeitgeist and adapted to what the culture was at the time. With African tales, they seem to be more preserved from a past time and a remembrance of what the tales and culture was, kind of like what the Grimm brothers and Perrault did. Furthermore, I feel as though there were more direct themes to origin like stories in the African tales. Like the European tales, animals play big roles. However, in the African tales, there were more how the animals came to be, for example, the story of the alligator and how he got his little back bumps.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and I feel like I learned a lot

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Out of all of this weeks readings for the Bluebeard stories, I would have to say that my favorite one would have to be Joseph Jacobs' "Mr. Fox". The first reasoning behind it is just because for some reason it makes me think about the strong friendship between me and my sister. I don't know if I'm looking too far into the story or if the author meant this at all but I don't care because this is what it means to me. In the beginning of the story, it sets the stage of Lady Mary and her soon to be marriage to Mr. Fox, her favorite of her lovers. The last sentence of the opening paragraph says "Lady Mary asked Mr. Fox where they should live, and he described to her his castle, and where it was; but, strange to say, did not ask her, or her brothers to come and see it" (Jacobs). When I read that last part about Mr. Fox not asking her or her brothers to check out his castle, all I could think of was me and my sister looking out for each other, especially when it comes to relationships. I read that last sentence as if Mr. Fox had not yet passed the sibling test. Whenever my sister is in a relationship, I make sure she knows whether or not I like the guy, and she does the same for me. This guys obviously had something to hide, something that he did not want Mary to know, but also her brothers because he knew that her brothers would protect her. Later, when Mary reveals what Mr. Fox did by showing the young girls hand, her brothers jump to her rescue. Likewise, whenever I am in a pickle, my sister is always one of the first people to come to my defense, and vice versa from me to her. We are always looking out for the best for the other one and when I read this story, even thought it wasn't the main focus, it was probably my favorite aspect of it. What I also liked about it was the strong female role. I see Mary as a true feminist. She is not someone who hates men and things women are better than men, but see's herself as an equal and values the differences between men and women. She is independent, brave, and takes initiative, but she also uses her brothers to help her in the end. The women in the other stories do take initiative, but I do not see them as stong as Mary.
I really did not dislike any of the stories but the one that I liked the least would have to be Grimm's "Fitcher's Bird". The main reason is because the wizard who was the antagonist actually just legit stole the women who were to live with him. I feel like the ideas of coercion or deception in the other ones make the other stories have more power. In the other 3 stories, the evil men make themselves appear what they are not and use trickery while in this one the wizard just flat out steals the girls.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Blog 5: Jung and Fairy Tales
When looking at fairy tales, one can see many Jungian ideas about the psyche throughout the stories. For starters, Jung's idea of the "collective unconscious", or archetypes, is somethings that all fairy tales share. We have discussed and seen how certain idea, thoughts, fears, attributes of people, etc. can be seen in fairy tales around the world that are yet still very similar. It is how we get stories like both Little Thumbling and Hansel and Gretel. Both stories expresses these collective unconscious ideas and fears of growing up and not having to rely on parents. The stories also communicate the harsh realities of life and touch upon every child's fear of abandonment. For all children, regardless of social stature, materiel wealth, etc., experience these fears and anxieties because they do not have the knowledge or experience yet to know whether or not they have to actually be afraid or how they have to handle it. Furthermore, especially in Little Thumbling, parts of the Psyche and personality types can be clearly seen. In that story, LT's persona is one of a small dumb child who is just the worthless runt of the family. The only thing is he is just introverted and instead of walking around saying foolish things, he spends his time thinking, observing, and absorbing the things around him. Though the people around him don't understand him and he chooses to stay mostly within himself, he is not entirely who they think he is. Other archetypes and parts of the Psyche can be seen in the story of The Pig King. The pig king is a tale about a prince who was born a grotesque pig. Everyone despised him because of his appearance and because of that he became calloused. He desired a wife so his mother goes out to find him one. She finds a woman with 3 daughters. The eldest marries the prince but he kills her because she does not appreciate him and only consents for the royalties. He kills the 2nd one as well in that marriage for the same reason. However, the 3rd and youngest daughter is sweet and gets to know the king and looks beyond the outer appearance and cares for him. Only then does the prince show that it is only an outer skin, and on the inside he is a handsome prince. This story can reflect Jung's ideas on the archetype of the Hero's Journey, which is about detachment -> transformation -> return transfigured and teach. The pig is detached and separated because of his ugly appearance. However, the love of this girl transforms him by softening his heart. He in the end permanently sheds his outer skin, teaching the listener of the tale that inner beauty is what is important and that judging those from the outside is what is the most important.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blog 4: Lil Red

This is the comic strip that I found online that I definitely liked the most. First of all, I find it pretty funny and clever. And c'mon, who doesn't like Rugrats? Anyways, one thing that I think is very interesting is how this cartoon shows how fairy tales can change from person to person and culture to culture. Granted, there are very big implications to the meaning behind the red clothing of the girls and the wolf being the antagonist, but I believe that this cartoon does a good job of showing how the archetypes can be constant while the zeitgeist can still influence the story to fit into different times and cultures. In this comic, the idea that a girl is going on a journey with a basket full of food and she runs into an animal stays the same. However, what changes is her location and the animal she encounters. For say an Arab nomadic tribe, the story might make more sense talking about the open desert, a place that could be known as a dangerous area with no water and usually no people for protection. However, a European person would definitely relate better to the forest idea because there is mystery and danger within forests, especially off of the path. From just all of the different versions we read of Little Red we can see that though it is presented here in this comic as a joke, it is not too far off that the same story could be told in completely different settings while still communicating the same message.

Picture: (Written by: Scott Gray. Illustrated by: Kyle Baker)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Child as a Hero
Seeing that fairy tales were usually created to teach a lesson to children, it makes sense that there are stories where the protagonists/heroes/heroines are children. This can be seen through the story of "Little Thumbling". It is a story that is about a family with 7 male children. The woodcutter father and his wife have a problem presented before them when there is a famine. They are poor and because they cannot feed their family, the parents decide to abandon their children instead of watching them starve. The hero of this story is found in the youngest child who they call Little Thumbling (LT). LT is overlooked by his family and thought to be stupid because of his young age, sickly demeanor, and he did not speak much. When his parents abandon him and his siblings the first time, he uses his critical thinking and comes up with the idea to leave white pebbles behind him in the woods that would lead him and his brothers back to the house. The second time they are abandoned, he tries a similar thing, but with breadcrumbs instead, but that fails because they are eaten by birds. Later when the boys are captured by an ogre, LT is the one who tricks the ogre by taking his daughters crowns and putting them on him and his brothers. This leads the ogre to kill his sleeping daughters instead of killing the sleeping boys. The boys are then able to escape the ogres house. Lastly, LT is able to trick the ogres wife into giving him their fortune by saying that her sleeping husband was actually being robbed and he needed the money for his ransom. Overall, throughout the story, LT showed leadership and ingenuity in the face of dire situations.
Another example of a child hero comes from the tale "Juniper Tree". In this story, a woman is essentially impregnated by a juniper tree after her and her husband have failed to conceive for so long. The woman gives birth to a beautiful baby boy and then dies. The husband remarries and his new wife gives birth to a girl. She is jealous though of the boy and kills him, makes the daughter think she did it, and then feeds him to the family. He is transformed into a songbird who exchanges his beautiful song for gifts from some locals. He then uses these gifts to reward his father and sister, and to kill his evil stepmother thus bringing him back from the dead. Both him and his sister can be seen as heroes for his sister buried him under the tree, enabling him to transform back into a boy. The boy is also a hero for he was able to use his gift of a voice to collect the necessary items to reward those who were good and to punish those who were evil.
Bettelheim believed that these things had much deeper meanings and it was important that children faced these things in order to understand the cruelties of this world. For example, in LT, the parents have to abandon their children. This is a common fear of children, but what the story does is shows how there are stages and events in life where one must become more independent. LT shows that though he may be small and considered insignificant, he can still be a hero and he is the one who handles this separation and call for maturity the best. A lot of these stories also have to do with oral regression and the refusal to mature. This can be seen through all of the ideas and obsessions with food. In LT, it is the famine, breadcrumbs, and the ogre trying to eat them that shows this fixation. In the Juniper Tree, the ideas of the apples and cannibalism also revolve around this oral fixation. Overall, theses stories that focus around children do so in a manner that calls them to mature rather than resisting the push forward in maturity that all will face.