Friday, September 24, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood: A Forever Interpreted Story

There are so many different versions, adaptations, and parodies of Little Red Riding Hood.  It is amazing how the story has traveled through the centuries.  When I was younger I never thought much into some of the ridiculous aspects of a the fairy tale that I do today, and see through different cartoons and videos.  

I found this print cartoon to be very funny.  The cartoon is a social cartoon which pokes fun at how things are seen to be easier for younger generations.  It relates Little Red Riding Hood, the story we all know, to another situation we also are all familiar with.  Everyone has a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, or elderly figure who at one point makes a comment about how much easier things are nowadays.  I am familiar with hearing, “I used to have to use books for schoolwork, not the internet”, or “I never had a cellphone”.  This cartoon brings back that familiarity with the idea of frozen foods and how available it is to get a good meal without the time and effort.
I also found a great video about Little Red Riding Hood.  When I was young, I really enjoyed the muppets as well as Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.  This video incorporates both of these into one skit.  The moral of Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood” is that children, specifically ladies, should be careful of who they talk to, and the gentle ones are usually the most dangerous.  The moral of this Sesame Street clip is that if you want to stay healthy or get better from being sick, cookies will not do the trick...but rather healthy, nutritious foods.
What is great about this video, is it has so many characteristics of the original story, yet it is so different.  Little Red Riding Hood brings goodies to her grandmother to make her feel better, the contents of the basket, though are more characteristic of the Cookie Monster.  Kermit as the reporter also brings a new aspect to the story.  The main aspect of the story that changed was the wolf.  In the versions of Little Red Riding Hood that we read, all of the Little Red Riding Hood characters showed no fear when confronted by the wolf in the woods.  But in the end, the wolf turned out to be villainous.  This Sesame Street version, on the other hand is the complete opposite.  The Cookie Monster was scared of the wolf, as well as Kermit when the wolf answered the door.  While in fact, the wolf was the doctor who was helping the sickly grandmother.
Both the cartoon, and the video clip were hilarious to me.  They both brought forth a more relatable aspect of the story for younger generations.  It brings out my curiosity of other versions and parodies of other fairy tales.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Psychi of Fairy Tales

I have never thought of psychoanalyzing fairy tales, but fairy tales work well with psychology.  For a form of art that has a “depthlesness”, these stories have such depth from a psychological standpoint. 
This Tuesday, Dr. Mazeroff, a psychology professor here at McDaniel, gave the class a very interesting presentation, and myself, a new perspective on fairy tales.  It was my first time being exposed to psychology, having never learned much about it before.  He detailed Freudian and Jungian theories and how they both can be be applied to folk tales.  The Id, Ego, and Superego can be applied to all tales, be it specific instances or actions by a character.  Dr. Mazeroff’s explanation of Freud’s theories and applications to these tales surprised me.  The sexual connotations, innuendos, and psychosexual stage theory that Dr. Mazeroff pointed out, and the Freudian theories of such connotations in these tales was a view I did not expect.  Maybe it was my naiveness or that I ‘turned the other cheek’, but I never thought about fairy tales in this light before. 
Jung’s ideas, on the other hand, I was more familiar with.  Archetypes and symbols are things that I have learned to watch for in literature, but never applied this investigation to fairy tales.  Jungian’s basic archetypes are ones that can be seen in most tales, be it the evil stepmother or the trickster.  The Jungian concept of the hero’s journey, which Dr. Mazeroff described, seemed consistent with as many tales that come to my mind.  In Hansel and Gretel, the two children start off as normal, they go on a journey, deny it the first time by returning home, but the second have no choice but to take the journey, and in the end succeed in killing the evil witch and taking her riches, then returning to their ordinary world, richer and happier.
It was very interesting to me to have Dr. Mazeroff break down Hansel and Gretel through his background in psychology for a tale that when I read it, I read it mainly as is.    As I continue through the course and continue to read more tales, I will attempt to apply some of the Freudian and Jungian theories and concepts in my analyzation of these tales.
As a side note...This is a video from one of my favorite television shows.  The show is a comedy about a pair of friends from New Zealand trying to succeed in New York as musicians.  It is a joking clip making fun of television in New Zealand, but I found it similar to folk tales.  It pokes fun at folk tales, and the unrealistic qualities that we tend to ignore.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fairy Tales: A Running Definition

     After this week’s preparation to our soon reading of fairy tales, I gained a great deal of knowledge and background on the structure, format, and motifs of these tales.  A lot of the information seems so apparent now as I look back on fairy tales that I know but a lot of the characteristics I have never noticed or payed much attention to in the past.  So today, I am going to try to write a rough definition of what a fairy tale is...

     A fairy tale originally was an orally told story, most of which are now written, but the origins of them are unknown.  Fairy Tales have their own distinct formula, different from any other literary work.  These tales are “timeless”, and not just in the way that they have been around for ages.  These tales have no distinct time, and can be adapted to any century as many have.  For example, there are countless adaptations of Cinderella, where the stepdaughter ends up with the high school quarterback or celebrity.  The stories themselves have no timeline as seen in Sleeping Beauty, where she sleeps for 100 years, yet is awakened as if it had been only a day.  
     These tales also have a “depthlessness”, “one-dimensionality”, and “isolationism” qualities.  The characters and settings are as simple as possible.  Details are only added if necessary to the plot.  There is no depth or dimension to the story lines.  A castle in a folk tale can be any castle you imagine it to be, it leaves room for the imagination.  The characters are isolated as they do not have any relationships to people or time.  Folk Tale characters fail to learn from mistakes that they, or others make.  This allows for the purest and morally right character to do the right thing, rather than a villainous character become victorious.
     Folk tales have such precision in them unlike any other literature, yet they go unquestioned.  It is not coincidence that things happen at a specific moment, but precision.  For example, maybe a magical gift will make itself known at the precise moment it is needed.  Normally someone reading this would say, “really, what are the chances of that!”  This is the style in which fairy tales are written.
     Fairy Tales are old tales and folklore passed down for ages, the originators unknown.  They are their own specific art form, that allows the imagination to grow by reading and hearing them.  The stories can be changed and tweaked in order to suit one’s preferences unlike other literature that is published and copyrighted.  I look forward to reading some of these tales, ones I know and ones I do not to put this definition to the test!

Fairy Tales Come To Life, This Artist Gave Used Their Imagination to Bring Books to Life!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why Fairytales...?

Entering my sophomore year, I was basically looking for a class to cover requirements.  That is when I found this class!  It is very intriguing to me to learn about different folktales and similarities and differences amongst them.  Growing up I have always loved children’s stories and movies, but have only heard one version of most of them.  For example, some time in elementary school, I remember reading the story, “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs”.  This story just blew my mind!  I could not imagine the way I heard the story up to then was not right...the whole time, of course I knew it was fictional, but it still seemed so real.  It made me think, are all the stories I know not real? This really intrigued me to take the class as it will hopefully bring new perspectives to the stories I know and love from my childhood. 
“The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” Wikipedia Page with Short Summary
I am hoping through this class to gain an understanding of many fairytales I know and the histories and versions of them.  Currently, I feel one-sided in my knowledge of these stories, but in reality, there are many sides to a story, such as “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” and I am hoping to learn them.
My favorite fairy tale of all time is probably “The Beauty and the Beast”.  When I was young I always loved the Disney version of the story, not having heard other versions.  It  teaches that there is more to someone than first appearance and impression, and doing what is expected of you may not always be right.  By not marrying the egotistical local hero in the town, Belle, the heroine, breaks the code of what others have done before and what they expect of her.  She is heroic in taking her father’s place as prisoner to the Beast, and eventually, falls in love with him.  It taught me many lessons growing up, to be brave, selfless, and understanding of people’s differences as first impressions and appearance are not completely defining of a person.