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Fairy Tales History and Interpretation Vulnerability, Imagination, and the Transition from Childhood to Adulthood.

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Presentation on theme: "Fairy Tales History and Interpretation Vulnerability, Imagination, and the Transition from Childhood to Adulthood."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fairy Tales History and Interpretation Vulnerability, Imagination, and the Transition from Childhood to Adulthood

2 History of Fairy Tales & Children
It began with…Creation Myths! Early man had certain priorities when it came to philosophizing about his life which revolved mostly around basic survival needs: what can I eat, where can I be safe, how can I make it to tomorrow, next year. When they did have time to think about more existential questions, they asked “why am I here? Who made me? Who made the earth?” As science and religion eventually came to answer many of those questions, humans began to focus their attentions elsewhere.

3 History of Fairy Tales & Children
Then, in medieval times: After infancy, children were seen as little adults and not shielded from adult activities (hard labor, public executions, etc.). They recognized that children were smaller and less intelligent but not to the extent that we see them today.

4 History of Fairy Tales & Children
Then, in the 16th and 17th centuries: People started to see childhood as not only a social status but a psychological, developmental one. It mostly began to affect the upper-class boys first then their sisters.

5 History of Fairy Tales & Children
Today, modern notions of childhood: Children are considered dependent without rights of their own (fall under the jurisdiction of their parents). Children are not only segregated from adults but also from other age groups.

6 Fairy Tales: Purpose Fairy tales are primer to the early education into a specific culture. Children learn key social mores*, gender expectations and morality from these stories. Like creation myths, they emerged from a largely oral tradition since most children could not read particularly the poor or female ones. *“mores” = customs, conventions, practices

7 Fairy Tales: Key Elements and Purpose
1. To pass along information about how the world and society works 2. To remind people of the need for morals and values 3. To make it easy to pass info around in a world that was void of a sufficient number of literate people 4. To entertain 5. To give children ways to cope with growing up a. stories include a childhood fear b. stories include a fantastical element (magic, fairies, supernatural events) c. stories have a moral point or lesson (sometimes spiritual, but never religious) d. stories have a happy ending

8 Common Elements Animals Childhood fears Symbolic references
Fantastic elements Another world Riddles/rhymes Helpers (often magical) Lessons learned Tricksters

9 4 Approaches to Reading FT
Children’s reader response (moral of the story) What is the child supposed to learn from reading the story? Literary Analysis Narrative devices (plot, character, themes, conflict, rising action, etc.) Figurative devices (puns, rhymes, symbols, personification, imagery, connotations) Psychoanalytic Approach  Bettelheim: unconscious, coping with growing up, adolescence

10 4 Approaches to Reading FT
Feminist Approach Feminist criticism is concerned with "...the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women" (Tyson). This school of theory looks at how aspects of our culture are inherently patriarchal (male dominated) and "...this critique strives to expose the explicit and implicit misogyny in male writing about women" (Richter 1346). (quoted from Purdue’s OWL website, <http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/11/>)

11 “Hansel and Gretel” Reader Response Question
What is the child reader supposed to learn? In other words, what is the moral or overarching lesson of the story? (There may be multiple morals and lessons.)

12 “Hansel and Gretel” Literary Response Questions
Who is the protagonist of the story? Why is she or he the protagonist? What external conflict leads to the parents’ decision to leave the children in the woods? What two major events constitute the rising action to the climax of the story? What are two examples of foreshadowing to the climax of the witch’s death? Identify 3 different symbols and how they tie into the story.

13 Psychoanalytic Criticism: Freudian & Jungian questions
How do the operations of repression structure or inform the work? Are there any oedipal dynamics - or any other family dynamics - are work here? How can characters' behavior, narrative events, and/or images be explained in terms of psychoanalytic concepts of any kind (for example...fear or fascination with death, sexuality - which includes love and romance as well as sexual behavior - as a primary indicator of psychological identity or the operations of ego-id-superego)? What does the work suggest about the psychological being of its author? What might a given interpretation of a literary work suggest about the psychological motives of the reader? Are there prominent words in the piece that could have different or hidden meanings? Could there be a subconscious reason for the author using these "problem words"? What connections can we make between elements of the text and the archetypes? (Mask, Shadow, Anima, Animus) How do the characters in the text mirror the archetypal figures? (Great Mother or nurturing Mother, Whore, destroying Crone, Lover, Destroying Angel) How does the text mirror the archetypal narrative patterns? (Quest, Night-Sea-Journey) How symbolic is the imagery in the work? How does the protagonist reflect the hero of myth? Does the “hero” embark on a journey in either a physical or spiritual sense? Is there a journey to an underworld or land of the dead? What trials or ordeals does the protagonist face? What is the reward for overcoming them?

14 “Hansel and Gretel” Psychoanalytic Questions
What “growing up” stage are Hansel and Gretel in? In other words, what kind of transition(s) are they preparing to experience? What family dynamics are at work in the story? Are there prominent words in the piece that could have different or hidden meanings? Could there be a subconscious reason for the author using these "problem words"? What symbols can you find in the story? What are they symbols of? How does the protagonist reflect the hero of mythology? Does the “hero” embark on a journey in either a physical or spiritual sense? What trials or ordeals does the protagonist face? What is the reward for overcoming them?

15 Feminist Questions How is the relationship between men and women portrayed? What are the power relationships between men and women (or characters assuming male/female roles)? How are male and female roles defined? What constitutes masculinity and femininity? How do characters embody these traits? Do characters take on traits from opposite genders? How so? How does this change others’ reactions to them? What does the work reveal about the operations (economically, politically, socially, or psychologically) of patriarchy? What does the work imply about the possibilities of sisterhood as a mode of resisting patriarchy? What does the work say about women's creativity? What does the history of the work's reception by the public and by the critics tell us about the operation of patriarchy? What role the work play in terms of women's literary history and literary tradition? (Tyson)

16 “Hansel and Gretel” Feminist Questions
How is the relationship between males and females portrayed in the story? Discuss the relationship between the woodcutter and his wife. Discuss the relationship between Hansel and Gretel. Discuss the relationship between Hansel and the stepmother. Discuss the relationship between Gretel and the witch.


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