Thursday Thirteen – Fairy Tale Lessons
I took this photo while my kids and I were on a walk through the woods which surround the street where I live. Other photos can be found here, here, here and here, but I thought this one seemed to have a real fairy tale feel to it. My little girl almost looks like Little Red Riding Hood who has strayed from the path on her way to her grandmother’s. I’ve decided to use this photo as my inspiration for this week’s TT, which has led me to put together a list of life lessons that I would like my children to take from traditional fairy tales. I’ve been reading fairy tales to my kids ever since they were tiny, but often I’ve felt that the lessons which the child is expected to take from the narrative are flawed in some way, and are not all befitting for our contemporary age. I guess you could say that in some ways I am dysenchated with fairy tale morals! So, in this TT, I’ve tried to redress my issues with these much-loved stories by constructing alternative lessons which I would like my children to take with them. See what you think of what I’ve come up with!
- The Little Mermaid – Don’t try and change yourself to become some impossible ideal. The Little Mermaid changed herself to become the human ideal to attract the Prince’s love, and he still married someone else, leaving her trapped for 300 years doing good deeds before she will be granted a soul and be allowed passage to heaven.
- Beauty and the Beast – Love can be found in the most unexpected places. Beauty was most certainly not expecting to fall in love with the Beast, but the wonderful thing about love is that it often catches us off guard.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – It’s OK to make mistakes; just make sure you learn from them. When the wicked step-mother sold Snow White the new lace for her corset, she quickly realised it was a mistake when it magically tightened, restricting her breathing. However, she still bought the poison apple the following day!
- Cinderella – Grace in defeat is an important attribute to cultivate. However, so is grace in success. I think one of the most noble of acts in Cinderella is when she offers her step-mother and step-sisters a home in the palace, when she marries the princes at the end. Her graciousness despite their ill-treatment of her is truly admirable, I think.
- Rapunzel – Rendering yourself inaccessible and isolated cannot lead to happiness. Trapped up there in the tall tower with no doors does not bring Rapunzel happiness. It is only when she allows others in that she can begin to approach contentment.
- Rumpelstiltskin – Don’t commit yourself to something which you cannot provide. When Rumpelstiltskin offered the miller’s daughter assistance on the proviso that she give over the first born son from her marriage to the king, she agrees as she cannot foresee the marriage, let alone the baby. Faced with the prospect of losing her child, however, the queen is abject with grief. Should she have made the commitment in the first place?
- Little Red Riding Hood – Trust your intuition. In other words, don’t wait to exclaim over how big Grandma’s eyes are, or how big her teeth have become. Start running!
- Goldilocks and the 3 Bears – Give the same respect to the property of others that you would give to your own. In many ways I think this is one which is more prevalent in today’s world than ever before. Our everyday environments in our communities would be a lot more pleasant if Goldilocks’ message was taken to heart at a young age.
- Sleeping Beauty – Only adopt passivity if you’re willing to wait 100 years. Perhaps out of all the fairy stories, this is the one most infuriating for feminists. Sleeping Beauty’s passive state as she lies unconscious waiting for her rescuer, however, can be seen as a story which warns both boys and girls against passivity.
- The Frog King – Judge on inner beauty rather than outer appearance. The silly, selfish princess who loses her ball only to have it saved by an ugly frog is blinded by the frog’s appearance. Her father’s insistence that she repays the frog’s kindness by bestowing a kiss upon the frog’s slimy lips, ultimately restores the frog to his original kingly form. However, it is only in this form that the princess is capable of seeing the frog king’s inner beauty.
- The Emperor’s New Clothes – Self-belief is a great thing, as long as it’s tempered with humility. The Emperor who believed that he was fully clothed and that he couldn’t be wrong, tells us a lot about the importance of humility. Being able to admit fallibility is a hard lesson to learn, but it is an important one!
- The Princess and the Pea – Remain true to yourself and you will pass any test of your authenticity. The Queen’s test of placing the pea under all those layers of mattresses to decide the true identity of her son’s fiancee allows the princess to confirm the royal status she had proclaimed all along. Don’t try and be someone you’re not, as you will only be found out in the end.
- The Elves and the Shoemaker – Give without thought of return. An important one for Christmas, but one which many of us need to be reminded of. The elves who worked hard through the night to improve the fortunes of the impoverished shoemaker and his wife were ultimately rewarded, but their efforts were never aimed at acquiring reward in the first place. Their real reward was seeing the appreciation of their gift and the positive changes their gift effected.
Do you agree with my selection and interpretation? What is your favourite fairy story and what’s the message that you would like others to take away from it?
My other TT posts: Favourite International Movies and My Passions, Dream Chasing, Origami Wishes, Birthday Nostalgia, Blogging Lessons, What I Found in Madrid, Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable Moments