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The Family in Fairy Tales S. Monnier Clay Ph.D.. Family in Tales and Fairy Tales Traditional fairy tales seem to preserve the norms of past times (e.g.,

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Presentation on theme: "The Family in Fairy Tales S. Monnier Clay Ph.D.. Family in Tales and Fairy Tales Traditional fairy tales seem to preserve the norms of past times (e.g.,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Family in Fairy Tales S. Monnier Clay Ph.D.

2 Family in Tales and Fairy Tales Traditional fairy tales seem to preserve the norms of past times (e.g., wifely obedience taken to extremes, child abandonment, etc.). -Often it is a royal family. -Usually it is a dysfunctional family. Stories where the mother has died: (Obstacles created because of a missing parent.) Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Bambi, Finding Nemo. Stories where the father is missing: Snow White, Cinderella… In a modern concept: Dumbo, Lion King. Poverty and the family: Hop O My Thumb, Hansel and Gretel.

3 Definition of a dysfunctional family (from, Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia). A dysfunctional family is a family, in which conflict, misbehavior and even abuse on the part of individual members of the family occur continually, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal.

4 What is a "Dysfunctional Family"? 1. There can be extreme rigidity in family rules. 2. Communication is problematic. 3. Levels of tension are high and there is too much arguing, 4. or, there are extended periods of silence blame and estrangement between members who avoid each other. 5. There is a lack of trust or feelings are repressed. 6. People do not tell the truth to each other. 7. There is too much stress and members of the family cannot cope.

5 Reasons For Dysfunctional Family behavior Frequently, dysfunctional behaviors in families stem from: 1. Alcoholism, substance abuse, or other addictions of parents. 2. Untreated mental illnesses/defects or personality disorders of parents. 3. An intense desire of family members to control or dominate others. 4. Parents emulating their own dysfunctional parents.



8 THE FUNCTIONAL FAMILY Families function to provide the following needs for their members: 1. Loyalty and safety; 2. Maintenance: the provision of food, clothes, shelter, and health care; 3. Warmth and affection without suffocating others with demands and needs; 4. Inclusion, the feeling of belonging; 5. Privacy, respect for each member's autonomy and individuality; 6. Esteem, the bestowing of a sense of worth and personal value on its members; 7. Good communication, good problem solving skills and understanding, the right of members to make mistakes and learn from them; 8. Recreation, the opportunity to have fun together; 9. Spirituality, the permission to develop a relationship with a Higher Power, to have meaning and purpose in life; 10. Appropriate roles: "Parents are supposed to be parents, and children are supposed to be children," says Dr. Kaplan. "Parents shouldn't ask their kids to be their best friends or to confide all their problems to them," he says. That puts an unfair stress and strain on daughters and sons, no matter what their age.

9 Hop O My Thumb (Le Petit Poucet) by Charles Perrault THERE was, once upon a time, a man and his wife fagot-makers (woodcutters) by trade, who had several children, all boys. The eldest was but ten years old, and the youngest only seven. None of them iss able to earn his bread. There happens to come a very bad year, and the famine is so great that these poor people resolve to rid themselves of their children. The husband insists that his wife and he should abandon the children in the forest. Little Thumb (the youngest) heard everything. He filled his pockets with pebbles. He is the one who finds the way back. The parents decide to lose their children again because they run out of money. This time, Little Thumb leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, but birds eat the crumbs. The children come to a house where an old woman opens the door and warns them that an ogre lives in that house, and she hides them under a bed. The ogre arrives and smells fresh meat. He discovers the children. He decides to eat them the next day, until then, theyll share a bed in the same room where their seven daughters are sharing another bed. The girls are wearing little crowns of gold, and Little Thumb substitutes the bonnets The boys are wearing for the girls crowns, as a result, the father cuts the throat of his own seven daughters, and the boys run away.

10 The ogre decides to catch the boy. He puts on his boots of seven leagues. The boys hide behind a rock, and the ogre comes to rest against that rock and falls asleep. While he is asleep, Little Thumb steals his boots. He then returns to the ogres Home and tells the ogres wife that bandits have taken her husband and that they want her gold and silver. Having taken the ogres possessions, Little Thumb returns home, where he is greeted with open arms.

11 Analysis: Seven children (sons): Besides the number three, seven is one of the most magically-charged numbers occurring in folklore and mythology. The number has numerous astronomical associations (the seven planets, the seven days of the moon phase) and various religious overtones (the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the seven emblems of the Buddha); in addition, it is significant in that "In Arabic and other folklore customs, seven had protective power, associated particularly with childbirth" (Tressider, p. 434). The eldest was but ten years old, and the youngest only seven: The presence of several sets of twins in the family would have been highly significant. In some cultures, twins are regarded as "regrettable accidents of nature" (Biedermann, p. 359) but may as well be an auspicious omen: Beidermann goes on to say that "A pair of male twins…was sometimes viewed as a divine recognition of great piety" (ibid., p 359).

12 Always in the wrong: The motif of youngest child as simpleton is a common one in fairy tales. His (or her) eventual triumph over difficulties can be read as the triumph of the human personality in its quest for maturation and integration; prior to that, "On the simplest and most direct level, fairy tales in which the hero is the youngest and most inept offer the child the consolation and hope for the future he needs most" (Bettelheim, p. 104). The forest: often "inhabited by mysterious, usually by threatening creatures" is a symbol of "all the dangers with which young people must deal if they are to survive their rites of passage and become mature, responsible adults" (Biedermann, p.141). Poverty and deprivation do not improve man's character, but rather make him… prone to embark on evil deeds" (Bettelheim, p.159) She at last consented: This is a reversal of the motif, found, for instance, in Hansel and Gretel in which it is the mother-later the stepmother-who convinces her husband to abandon the children.

13 Hansel and Gretel Giambattista Basile was the first to record the tale. Later, Hansel and Gretel (German: ''Hänsel und Gretel'') was adapted by the Brothers Grimm. Originally, the tale was written for adults, it has been softened and revised and is now generally regarded as child's fairy tale. At it's core, the tale is about heroic children facing harrowing circumstances. Its themes derive from the universal fears of childhood: abandonment, isolation and monsters (or a witch.) The tale relates conditions caused by starvation due to some external cause (wars, plagues…?) In this type of story, children are endangered and they are saved by their cleverness.

14 Analysis Forest: The forest is a recurrent image in German fairy tales, in part because over a quarter of the country is comprised of forest land. In the Grimms' tales, the forest is a supernatural world, a place where anything can happen and often does. Woodcutter: Woodcutter was one of the lowliest, least paying occupations (Matthews 1962). Jack Zipes explores the tale as a story of triumph of the working or plebian class over the higher class. The family is ultimately victorious over poverty and the witch -- who like the richer and higher classes -- has more than enough storage of food and treasure that could be shared to lessen the suffering of the lower classes. The "hatred which the peasantry felt for the aristocracy as hoarders and oppressors" is represented by the killing of the witch (Zipes 1979).

15 Bread: Bread appears in many forms with several metaphoric meanings. Bread is the food of the poor. It is also seen as the most basic life-sustaining food (Matthews 1962). The struggle to provide bread for the children illustrates the family's poverty and quest for basic survival. The story is one of transformation for the children from childhood to adulthood. The bread itself symbolizes transformation. "The path from the production of the grain to the bread is a path of transformation of a natural product into a specifically human form of nourishment" (Dieckmann 1986). Eavesdropping: Some critics have considered Hansel and Gretel to be a subversive tale, encouraging children to eavesdrop on their parents, trespass, commit murder, and steal property.

16 White pebbles: Pebbles symbolize justice. In ancient Greece, a vote with a white pebble indicated that the voter thought the suspect was not guilty. White pebbles have also been used as gravesite gifts to ensure rebirth of the spirit (Olderr 1986).

17 Husband and Father: The father/husband's role in the tale is an interesting one. While the father is usually the birth father of the children, he has different levels of responsibility for the abandonment across versions of the tale. In some versions he willingly leaves the children in the forest. In other versions, he ineffectively protests their abandonment. The textual hint that the wife's wishes will win over the children's safety comes from the word choice of "husband" over "father" to describe the man's primary role. Usually, the father is simply obeying his wife like the fathers in Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel. In Donkeyskin, the father has incestuous desires. It is an uncomfortable story for adults to share with children.

18 Mother:The mothers in fairy tales are usually given more blame and responsibility than the fathers. The fathers are almost always forgiven while the mothers are almost always punished. Step-mother: The image of the evil stepmother occurs frequently in fairy tales. She is associated with jealousy and cruelty (Olderr 1986). The stepmother figure is actually two sided, in that while she has destructive intentions, her actions often lead the protagonist into situations that identify and strengthen his or her best qualities. This is one of the few popular tales in which two siblings work together with affection and concern. Another tale is Snow White and Rose Red in which the two sisters are described as often exploring the forest hand in hand.

19 Birds: Birds are predominant throughout this story. They keep the children trapped in the woods by eating the breadcrumbs. A bird leads the children to the witch's house. A bird also provides the final means of their escape by helping them cross the water. The cottage was made of bread and roofed with cakes, while the window was made of transparent sugar: Note that gingerbread is not used in the description of the house, only bread. Germany's rich tradition of creating gingerbread houses and other items has caused the house to be described as gingerbread in subsequent rewritings and tellings. Old witch: Belief in witches exists in nearly every culture worldwide (Leach 1949). In Jungian psychology, the witch is a personification of evil which eventually consumes itself. The witch symbolizes the destructive power of the unconscious (Luthi 1976).

20 Oven: Hans Dieckmann's Jungian analysis interprets the oven as a womb symbol or symbol of birth and transformation (Dieckmann 1986). She killed, cooked, and ate him: The witch is a cannibal. Cannibalism is one of the most reviled crimes in the world. It is considered the quintessential expression of savagery and evil. Charges of cannibalism have long been used as justifiable reasons for enslaving or destroying a population or person. Perish miserably: Burning occurs often in fairy tales. It is symbolic of purification (Matthews 1986). The witch being burnt can also represent evil destroying itself (Luthi 1976).

21 Variants: Molly Whuppie is a Scottish fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales. In the Molly variant, a couple had too many children, so they took the three youngest into the forest and left them. The Witch: a Russian fairy tale. A poor widower with twin children, a girl and a boy, remarried. The stepmother had several more children and mistreated the twins… Vasilissa the Beautiful is a Russian fairy tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki. Again it is the story of a widower who remarries. Baba Yaga

22 Adaptations: Hänsel und Gretel is an opera by nineteenth-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck. The libretto was written by Adelheid Wette (Humperdinck's sister), based on the Grimm brothers' Hansel and Gretel. Written in Frankfurt am Main ca. 1891 The standard English translation is by Constance Bache. ROLES: Peter, broom-maker baritone Gertrud, his wife mezzo-soprano Hänsel mezzo-soprano Gretel soprano The Gingerbread Witch mezzo-soprano Sandman, the Sleep Fairy soprano Dewman, the Dew Fairy soprano Chorus of echoes three sopranos, two altos Children's chorus Ballet (14 angels)

23 Illustrations: Anne Anderson

24 Jessie Wilcox-Smith

25 Ethel Franklin Betts

26 Bibliography Bernheimer, Kate. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: Women Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales. New York: Anchor Books, 1998. Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Vintage Books, 1975. Briggs, Katherine M., ed. A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970, 1971. Dieckmann, Hans. Twice-Told Tales: The Psychological Use of Fairy Tales. Wilmette, IL: Chiron, 1986. Luthi, Max. Once Upon a Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1976. Olderr, Steven. Symbolism: A Comprehensive Dictionary. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1986. Zipes, Jack. Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion: The Classical Genre for Children and the Process of Civilization. New York: Methuen, 1983.

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