Countless fairy tales with infinite variations, usually conveying moralsocial or political lessons through skillful narrative and interesting characters, have existed throughout history and throughout the world. The still-popular tales have lived on for more than two millennia, exemplifying extraordinary power and longevity. Other early influences on our literary tradition abound: The nature of this genre seems to invite evolution.
A Critical Approach to Children's Literature, pp. American Library Association Yet everyone has heard or read fairy tales in childhood, and a more universal reading interest among children would be hard to find.
That fairy tales have a permanent place in children's literature may be assumed, since a story which has lived for hundreds of years must possess a vitality which is imperishable and immutable.
Like all traditional literature, fairy tales were originally the possession of everyone, adults and children alike. They were preserved and used and valued by the common folk from the time of the childhood of the human race.
They still survived in their original form in remote and isolated places until the work of scholars, who wrote them down from word of mouth, preserved these tales for all time in printed books.
It is certain that they were not seeking to confer a benefit on children's literature, although this they have unwittingly done. They were concerned not in the fairy tales as stories but in the light these old tales could throw on the customs and beliefs Social attitudes and fairy tales essay early times and, through comparison of variants of the same tale, with the migrations of the Aryan family.
It is not, however, because of their interest to students but because of their inherent qualities as literature that these traditional stories hold so important a place in the reading of children.
Traditional is a word we apply to stories and verse whose origin is lost in the mists of time. No one knows their authors nor when or where they were first told. They seem to be as old as the race itself. Many scholarly treatises have been written on the history of folk literature, and any interested person can find such source material readily at hand.
But our concern is with the fairy tale as it exists today, what its claim is to consideration as literature, and what is its value and interest for children.
Although adults have discarded fairy tales in their own reading, judging them childishly fanciful, unreal, and unrelated to the world as they know it—a world in which the workings of natural law are familiar and accepted—it is remarkable how many references to fairy tales are found in adult speech and writing.
We all understand the implication of such phrases as it's a Cinderella tale; he's an Ugly Duckling; he killed the goose that laid the golden egg; it's a case of Beauty and the Beast; a veritable Bluebeard; Sister Ann, Sister Ann do you see any one coming; Open Sesame; an old man of the sea; and many others.
These allusions in common speech testify to the memorable quality of fairy tales. But do they not also in some sort refute the judgment of grownups that these stories are unrelated to everyday life?
Let us look at them more closely, approaching them without prejudice as we would a contemporary volume. What do we find? Here is a story which we call a fairy tale, although there are no fairies among the characters. Let us read this story and discover, if we can, what its claims are to literature, and its particular value as literature for children.
In times past there lived a king and queen, who said to each other every day of their lives, "Would that we had a child! But it happened once that when the queen was bathing, there came a frog out of the water, and he squatted on the ground, and said to her, "Thy wish shall be fulfilled; before a year has gone by, thou shalt bring a daughter into the world.
Not only did he bid to it his relations, friends, and acquaintances, but also the wise women, that they might be kind and favourable to the child. There were thirteen of them in his kingdom, but as he had only provided twelve golden plates for them to eat from, one of them had to be left out.
However, the feast was celebrated with all splendour; and as it drew to an end, the wise women stood forward to present to the child their wonderful gifts: And when eleven of them had said their say, in came the uninvited thirteenth, burning to revenge herself, and without greeting or respect, she cried with a loud voice, "In the fifteenth year of her age the princess shall prick herself with a spindle and shall fall down dead.
Every one was terrified at her saying, when the twelfth came forward, for she had not yet bestowed her gift, and though she could not do away with the evil prophecy, yet she could soften it, so she said, "The princess shall not die, but fall into a deep sleep for a hundred years.
The maiden grew up, adorned with all the gifts of the wise women; and she was so lovely, modest, sweet, and kind and clever, that no one who saw her could help loving her. It happened one day, she being already fifteen years old, that the king and queen rode abroad, and the maiden was left behind alone in the castle.
She wandered about into all the nooks and corners, and into all the chambers and parlours, as the fancy took her, till at last she came to an old tower. She climbed the narrow winding stair which led to a little door, with a rusty key sticking out of the lock; she turned the key, and the door opened, and there in the little room sat an old woman with a spindle, diligently spinning her flax.
In that very moment she fell back upon the bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep. And this sleep fell upon the whole castle; the king and queen, who had returned and were in the great hall, fell fast asleep, and with them the whole court. The horses in their stalls, the dogs in the yard, the pigeons on the roof, the flies on the wall, the very fire that flickered on the hearth, became still, and slept like the rest; and the meat on the spit ceased roasting, and the cook, who was going to pull the scullion's hair for some mistake he had made, let him go, and went to sleep.
And the wind ceased, and not a leaf fell from the trees about the castle. Then round about that place there grew a hedge of thorns thicker every year, until at last the whole castle was hidden from view, and nothing of it could be seen but the vane on the roof.
And a rumour went abroad in all that country of the beautiful sleeping Rosamond, for so was the princess called; and from time to time many kings' sons came and tried to force their way through the hedge; but it was impossible for them to do so, for the thorns held fast together like strong hands, and the young men were caught by them, and not being able to get free, there died a lamentable death.Social Attitudes and Fairy Tales For hundreds of years, parents have been enthralling children with stories of magic and wishes coming true.
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Source for information on Evolution of Fairy Tales: Children's Literature Review dictionary. Social Attitudes and Fairy Tales Essay Social Attitudes and Fairy Tales For hundreds of years, parents have been enthralling children with stories of magic and wishes coming true. Fairy tales are passed from one generation to the next through oral tradition, and, in modern times, books.
Essay about Social Attitudes and Fairy Tales - Social Attitudes and Fairy Tales For hundreds of years, parents have been enthralling children with stories of magic and wishes coming true. Fairy tales are passed from one generation to the next through oral tradition, and, in modern times, books.