The Importance of Fairy Tales – Part 2

» Posted by on Jun 5, 2012 in Curriculum, Early Childhood, Research | 0 comments

Here is another great article about what fairy tales can teach the young and the old.  James Parson’s piece explores the lessons from educationalist and psychologist, Dr Bruno Bettelheim, who, “suggests that children need dark fairy stories to deal with their inner turmoil and fears about life and death.”  Parson’s discusses why fairy tales give insights into existential questions, independent living, assurance, evil, and happy futures.

For an even deeper dive into the psychological underpinnings and importance of fairy tales, visit, http://www.endicott-studio.com, where the writings of Terri Windling, in particular, shed light on topics like orphaned heroes and transformations in these stories.

Here is an example of her keen insight on the predominance of orphaned children in folk tales.

“The orphaned hero is not, however, a mere fantasy cliché; it’s a mythic archetype, springing from some of the oldest stories of the world.

… The heroism of fairy tale orphans lies in their ability to survive and transform their fate, and to outwit those who would do them harm without losing their lives, their souls, or their humanity in the process.

… Calamity thus has a function in these tales: it propels the first hard step onto the road that will lead (after certain tests and trials) to personal and worldly transformation, pushing the hero out of childhood and towards a new adult life (the latter often symbolized by marriage at the story’s end).

… For young readers, there is a distinct brand of pleasure in inhabiting the skin of the orphan hero, tasting both the joys and terrors of operating as a fully independent being without the protective cushion (or burden, depending on the child’s circumstance) of parents standing between them and the wide, wide world beyond.

Read many more of Ms. Windling’s writings about fairy tales HERE.

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