Monday, 12 September 2016

Fairy Tales

   An interesting change for a book club.  We are planning to discuss the Grimm Fairy Tales, in particular "Snow White".
   I remembered a book about fairy tales that I read many years ago.  "The Uses of Enchantment" by Bruno Bettelheim is about the meaning and importance of fairy tales. So I reread this book in preparation for discussing fairy tales.
   Doesn't it seem strange that such apparent violence and brutality can be a positive influence in a child's life?

  Bettelheim is a therapist who works with severely disturbed children.  He works to restore meaning to their lives.

  He believes that children find fairy tales more satisfying than all other children's stories.  Of course, they don't know why they enjoy them, but Bettelheim thinks it is because fairy tales deal with universal human problems.  
  Good and evil are obvious, the bad always loses and the child feels a connection with the good.  There is an assurance that the child can succeed in life.  In many fairy tales, the hero is out in the world alone and separation anxiety is a normal problem for children. 
Quote (book cover) "Bettelheim shows how the fantastical, sometimes cruel, but always deeply significant narrative strands of the classic fairy tales can aid in the greatest human task, that of finding meaning for one's life."

   There is a chapter in the book on each of several fairy tales.
  "Snow White" focuses on the oedipus complex and, although I found it interesting, it is very complex.  All aspects of the story are analysed.

  Who knew that fairy tales have such symbolism and existential dilemmas?

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