“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”― Albert Einstein
What exactly is a fairytale? Webster dictionary defines it as “a story (as for children) involving fantastic forces and beings (as fairies, wizards, and goblins) —called also fairy story” To those who do not know much about fairytales, they might not find a deeper meaning than this definition. Prior to taking this class, I did not think that there was much more to fairytales than a simple tale written for pure entertainment. However, reading many essays by scholars such as Maria Tatar and J.R.R. Tolkien opened my horizon and helped me to view fairytales as much more than a tale written for fun. I now truly see fairytales as tales that hold a significant part in society, now, in the past, and forever. These tales hold a very important role in addressing societal values, as well as teaching readers how to cope with issues that appear in daily instances.
When I first signed up for Fairy tales and Literature, I was very excited; however, I did not think that I would learn as much as I have. I thought that this class would be just like any other writing class, consisting of many readings and many papers. Nonetheless, these papers and readings have educated and impacted me more than I could have ever imagined. I am now extremely intrigued in the history of fairytales, feeling as if I have traveled the journey that fairytales have embarked on over history. I have learned so much about the writers of these tales, the scholars that critique them, and about the history of the time period that they were written. I originally believed that each fairytale only had one different version, and within this version there was only one way to understand it. However, reading tales such as “Bluebeard” and “Little Red Riding Hood” aided in my understanding of the many different interpretations of these stories. There are so many versions of fairytales that represent and convey important aspects of society.
When I first read versions of certain tales in Maria Tatar's book, I was extremely disappointed as I realized that these tales were depicting ideas that children should be reading about. For example, I was shocked about the sexual connotation that was present in “Little Red Riding Hood”, as I have never realized this before. However, after writing my second and third paper, I realized that these ideas stemmed from the historical period that the tale was written. With this being said, I understood the reasons why writers, such as Perrault, based their tales around gender roles and other issues. I was no longer disappointed as I realized that these tales were a representation of the way of life many years ago.
I found Maria Tatar’s book The Classics of Fairytales and Surlalunefairytales.com to be the most useful sources. By reading the essays that these scholars of written, I got a much better understanding of the tales which helped me formulate my own ideas and think even deeper about the fairytales. It was interesting to see that these scholars had agreed with some of the ideas that I had thought of before reading the texts. These sources also presented ideas that contradicted some of my arguments, which helped me view the other side of my viewpoints.
This class has been one of the best writing classes that I have ever taken. I am eager to learn more about the history fairytales, along with other types of literature. I highly recommend this class to anybody who has an interest in creative writing, or just an interest in writing in general. I would like to thank Professor Goss for her continuous and genuine effort throughout the whole semester. Without her constant enthusiasm in these tales, I wouldn’t have understood fairytales that way that I do now. Fairytales have taught me not only about their history, but also about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. As you go through my portfolio, you will get a sense of the significance that these tales have had on society, as well as my writing.
I hope my portfolio can intrigue you as much as fairytales have intrigued me! Welcome!