1.05.2008

The Dirty Little Fairy Tail


So I am sure if anyone at all is reading this you may be a bit perplexed regarding my last post ...a photograph of a homemade loaf of bread presented with the nightmare tale of Hansel & Gretal. I must admit I have a little obsession with fairy tales and childhood rhymes...especially if they lean towards the morbid. Hansel & Gretal is a perfect example of the morbid...a family is so desperate in their hunger that they are willing to abandon their children to the wilds of the deep forest in order to save themselves. It really is perplexing to me why we tell this tale to our children....a tale which is told in apparent summertime (why can't they grow food??....the tale is always told in a manner of a lush forest), with neighbors they are obviously unable to go to in their greatest hour of need (they would rather give up their kids than ask for a loaf of bread??...or the neighbors are so uncaring/stingy they would rather see the children abandoned??). So the parents choose to trick their children and abandon them in the middle of the deep forest only to be left to the mercy of a cannibalistic witch. Why has this fairy tale lasted through generation upon generation...there is no moral lesson to be learned or positive value to reflect upon which I can see. It runs along the lines of "Ring Around the Rosy"... the rhyme relates to the Black Death....the bubonic plague that spread through Europe in the 1340s, or it may refer to the Great Plague of London, 1665/6 (there is debate as to when this rhyme was first written). One theory has it that the 'ring' is the ring of sores around the mouths of plague victims, who subsequently sneeze and fall down dead. The "ashes" is typically accepted as relating to the cremation of the plague's victims. So why present this as a fable to our children....is it simply a custom which we have kept since the time before written language?...a way for us to remember our past and therefore learn from our history? But that really doesn't explain why these tales are specific to children.....is it necessary for us to teach our children about death and the randomness of it at such an early age?...what benefits do they obtain from this?....just a few thoughts to ponder over.

4 comments:

  1. That is strange. My grandma in her last years was a bit out of it, and used to recite children's rhymes. But they were longer than the versions we were used to and was inappropriate for children. I guess a lot of them have weird pasts we don't know of.

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  2. Very true....maybe the art of storytelling is to lift the burden of memory's.

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  3. Weren't posies put in the pockets of the dead to conceal the odor?

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  4. You are quite right Allison...thanks for pointing out the typo...it's "Ring Around the Rosy"....not ring around the posy! Thanks honey :)

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