10 September 2012

Grimm’s Fairy Tales


Ever wonder why we  stop reading Fairy Tales!!
 
All great cultures have passed on rich heritage for coming generations in the form of art, music, dance, dressing, behaviour, traditions, language, greetings, symbols, scripts, and of course literature. Literature could be in the form of religious scripts, historical recordings, pictorial representations, hymns, songs and folk tales. Aesop Fables of the Greek, Panchtantra Tales of India, Jataka Tales of the Buddhist and the Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales of Germany stand testimony and essential part of growing up phase of children of various cultures. A way for parents and elders to pass on the moral and cultural values from one generation to another along with being educative, interesting, entertaining, learning and thought provoking.

As a child I got introduced to fables and folk tales in the form of newspaper strips and comics like Chanda Mama, Chandan & Champak which were an extension of Panchtantra Tales and folklores of Kings – queens, prince-princess, nobles and brave men. It was much later in life that I got introduced to the fairy tale versions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gratel and other exciting characters which each kid remembers, imagines and dreams as own. We remember and associate Fairy Tales for so many things.
 
- How there is always a happy ending - a hopeful and better future is there for us
- Fairies and genies do exist. When evil witch strikes there a fairy will protect you- Wishes come true. Your life can turn upside down in seconds
- Good Children get good things and bad people always get punished at the end
and they lived happily ever after..
- Merry songs and the beautiful prince and princess.
- Prince Charming comes to rescue the beautiful princess and sweeps her off her feet, and like they say ‘And they lived happily ever after’
The films and publishers have made their millions thanks to the demand of fairy tale books and animation movies by children and their parents. Snow white, Hansel and Gratel, Sleeping Beauty, Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderell (Ashputtle), Beauty and the Beast (Lily and the Lion) are stories that every kid and parent remembers by heart.

I read them long back as a kid – they were colourful, joyous, dreamy, romantic and so hopeful. But when I recently read them as an adult, I was left with a dilemma. I felt nothing of my previous experience. Was it simply a case of re-reading a book giving you a different perspective, could it be age and maturity, or simply a case of reality. It pleases the child within you for all the above reasons but as an adult, a part of your brain takes over and you start analysing the underlying not so joyous and hopeful themes…

- Princes only want THE MOST beautiful girl on earth to make their brides
- You might be brainy and hard working but Luck and Kindness matter more
- Step Mothers are ALWAYS wicked
- Witches exist too and they kill and eat children
- Only pretty girls get Princess. If you are ugly then the only possibility is that you are wicked, or you have to be so good and earn a fairy God mother who turns you so beautiful that the Prince falls for you
- All girls are waiting for their Prince Charming, only aim of their life is to get a rich and handsome man (reminds me of Jane Austen.. another tale of girls fishing for rich husbands) 
- All Kings only want a Son who can take their kingdom and wealth and grow it (strong influence of ancient patriarchal societies)
- Ugly people are villainous and evil (this notion continues still through our films and other media)
- Animals can talk and behave like humans (Animal cartoons rule)
- Wishes come true but there are ALWAYS hidden conditions (there are no free lunches in this world)
- Parents have favourites amongst their children (what to do with so many kids born, you need to rank them)
- Misers are Rich people.. But not all Rich are Misers…

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