Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Review of Grimm's Fairy Stories

I decided to pursue Jacob Grimm's "Fairy Stories" because, again, having finished my second year of studying English Lit at uni I really wanted something fun and simple to read. In the end, if offered me a chance to relive my Disney-crammed childhood.
Published in Germany in 1812, these fairy stories aren't exactly as gentle as, for example, my generation's The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle). With Cinderella's sisters mutilating their feet in order to fit the glass slipper, these tales have evidently been toned down in the media for modern audiences.
Though there are a multitude of stories collected in the book, they all largely traverse through one of a limited number of themes. There are ones pertaining to a young beautiful and diligent girl being abused by her mother or (more commonly) a step-mother and siblings. Eventually they are swept off their feet by a handsome and rich Prince, much to the chagrin of their abusers. This raises a lot of questions about gender stereotypes, but is symptomatic of its time. A modern author would (largely) be far more inclined to show the complexity of female characters, rather than having "good" beautiful girls who are often rescued because of this and their ability to cook and clean sufficiently. To contrast this, there is another type of woman in these stories who is categorised as being "bad". She is ugly, lazy, and often jealous of the beauty of and attention that the female protagonist recieves. Interestingly, this figure is always the corrupting force in the tales. This indicates that, although men can be grumpy and stubborn (like Rumpelstiltskin or the seven dwarfs), they are effectively harmless in comparison to the wiley vindictiveness inherent to some women.
Personally, I enjoyed reading the original stories for the films and tales that influenced my childhood. Why do you think these stories have been censored in modern times?
Any comments always welcome.
Stephanie :)

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