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.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Definition of Fairy Tales

A fairy tale is a polygenetic story that encompasses the archetypes of the world in the theme of the zeitgeist to purvey life lessons to children in an understandable yet powerful way. They have no definitive author because of how they have been told and also invented. Those that would share the stories did so verbally and were written down until many generations after the “original”. Furthermore, the polygenetic origins make it impossible to actually give them an author. This fact is also supported by the prevalence of the archetype connections. One can see that the same story is told in different areas in the world with universal archetypes tying them all together. When you can look at these stories and see these archetypes it can easily help identify that the material in front of you could be that of a fairy tale. What is also essential to a fairy tale is its adaptability to the zeitgeist. Fairy tales keep the same flow of stories within them and the same archetypes, but at the same time they are adaptable and continue to change with the culture and context of the time. Lastly, fairy tales were created mostly for children. Though they have lessons that anyone listening could learn from and enjoy, the purpose of them are to teach lessons to children. Children could learn hard truths about life while also being able to explore in their creativity. It gives them heroes to identify with and characters with whom they can project tough situations and struggles on. Many things make up what fairy tales are in both content and style.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Blog Entry #1

The reason why I chose this class was because it seemed to be the most interesting of all the SIS classes. I have always loved fantasy fiction and the ideas of new worlds and places with magical creatures and the such. What I really hope to accomplish this semester is to just be able to look at these stories from a more philosophical and educated view. I have read or seen many of these stories in my youth but now that I am older I think it will be fun to study them in a new light and learn a lot more of the deeper meanings. If Shrek counts as a folktale/fairy tale then I would have to say that it is my favorite. I just love how the story combines many other fairy tales and uses themes and motifs from them but in a more comical way. I find it funny and interesting that the typical monster bad guy ogre (Shrek) is the hero while the typical heroes (Lord Farquaad, Prince Charming, Fairy Godmother, etc.) are in fact the villains. Overall I have a lot of fun watching the movies (or at least 1 and 2) and that is why Shrek would be my favorite fairy tale.