A few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales as I don’t really know how all the stories I grew up started out. I plunged into what I hoped would be an interesting experience and came out with a few realisations: fairy tales are not really as glamorous as they’re portrayed in modern adaptations; they do not always have happy endings; and the main characters aren’t always as heroic as they’re made to appear.
I know one shouldn’t really pick at fairy tales, but I was disappointed… in what, I’m not sure though. Maybe I was disappointed because the Disney version of Snow White did not show that the Queen attempted to kill her stepdaughter three times instead of just one? Maybe I felt bad for Rumpelstiltskin because he wasn’t a bad guy, just someone who wanted his end of the bargain fulfilled?
One story titled “The Death of the Little Hen” ends as such:
Then the little cock was left alone with the dead hen, and dug a grave for her and laid her in it, and made a mound above it, on which he sat down and fretted until he died too, and then everyone was dead.
How depressing is that? While there are many stories that end with “and they lived happily until the end of their days”, the events leading to such a happy ending are brutal and sad. In one story, a stepmother decapitated her husband’s son and feeds his flesh to the oblivious father (ew). In a story titled Faithful John, the King has to decapitate his two kids in order to break a curse that befell his faithful servant, John… which is touching in a way, but still! Those poor innocent kids. =[
Yet some people wish to live their life like a fairy tale, possibly thinking it's all sunshine and rainbows. Truth be told, "fairy tale" does give off a false impression, and one is deluded into thinking that it means happiness and sparkles and fairy dust, whereas it's all about deceit and murder and trickery. People in general are selfish in fairy tales, and women are completely spineless. Everyone is superficial, and marriage is based upon appearances. You can almost always be sure that the pretty princess will meet a handsome prince and they'll fall in love and get married on the same day.
Am I looking too much into this? Maybe. Should these things be ignored because these are fairy tales meant for kids? No. Grimm’s Fairy Tales are not kiddy stories. They’re quite dark and you’d do best to keep your kids far away from them and give them the watered down Disney versions instead. Twice the amount of fun and considerably less depressing.
I guess one lesson that can be learned from fairy tales is that you will possibly attain happiness after all your hardships, but even then that’s not set in stone. The path to a happily ever after is riddled with obstacles. I guess people who opt for a fairy tale ending do know what they’re talking about though.
What idea do you have about fairy tales? Did you know they were dark all along? Do you have any favourites? =]