Thursday, May 9, 2013

Final Blog


           Looking back on what I have learned in the readings, the blogs I have written, and over-all new things I have learned through this class, I would say that at the end of this semester, I will be leaving with a new way of viewing folk and fairy tales than I did before entering the class.
            I came into this class hoping to learn and appreciate more something I already love, which is the classic fairy tales my grandmother used to read to me. I took the classic stories at face-value and never considered what lies under the surface of the tale. After this class, I am able to see so much more in a fairy tale. I can carry over the concepts and analysis of the fairy tales covered in class to other fairy tales. Even though we did not cover my favorite tale- Rumpelstiltskin, I am able to dig deeper and find underlying meaning behind it based on the ideas and analysis of other tales. I especially like how I feel comfortable enough in what I have learned to take this knowledge with me-to be able to see further into the fairy tales I love-and the new ones I learned.
            Looking back, I see how certain fairy tales had a greater impact on me than others – unconsciously, I took a lot from the tales I especially liked. I can see why my favorite tale changed depending on the time in my life, because without realizing it, I was taking something from the specific tale that I needed for different dilemmas and conflicts I had in my life.
            Over all, I liked enjoyed the stories we covered in class, such as Hansel and Gretel and their success in learning that everyone must be independent as adults while still appreciating the affection and ties to ones parents, or Snow White and the MANY ways someone can look at it and get something different out of it (from the warnings of envy, vanity, and balancing ones self in the process of becoming an adult and the sexuality that it entails.
            It was difficult at first to dig deep into the motifs and symbols in fairy tales, but as we learned more how to do this, it became easier and more intriguing the more tales we analyzed and discussed. Although there was a lot of reading in this class, I found that it was worth it to be able to really look closely at various types of tales and the comparison between similar types that addressed different lessons and symbols-yet the larger idea was still intact. 

The most impacting thing I am taking from this class is that fairy tales are the greatest gift to the imagination, the sound mind, and morality of anyone that allows it to become apart of them.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

India tales

In last Thursday's class, Dr. Alles came as the guest speaker to discuss the tales and myths derived from India. He was very personable and throughout his discussion, he shed a new light on how different the tales from India were compared to the fairy tales we have discussed in class so far. I found his power point interesting- although the slides were less focused on direct tales, they gave a better visual picture of the culture and the importance of tradition in India.
Dr. Alles focused on stories from the Adivasi (‘first inhabitants’), who are the indigenous people of south Asia-primarily focused in Gujarat, India. In general, I found the tales her discussed very different to the predominantly European fairy tales the class has previously covered. In class we have covered the idea in which there are similar fairy tales from across the world, regardless of cross-cultural influences. 

It seems as though Indian tales do not follow this idea. They seem disconnected to the European tales; instead Indian tales maintain literal locations and referencing actual points in history within the story. This is not the case in stories such as Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, etc. Such European tales focus on more fictitious locations and vague points in history, because the location and point in time are nearly irrelevant to the purpose of the tale (excluding the use of an unnamed forest or travel route).
The stories discussed in class were not as entertaining or focused on a moral to be learned. Instead, it focused more on referencing the cultural importance of the land. Tales such as the Babo Tundvo does not have a point; instead it emphasizes the importance of the large mountains to the people, the religious beliefs of the people, and a sense of the culture’s material resources.
Another example of how Indian stories do not focus on trying to teach the listener a moral or guide to over come unconscious dilemmas (like the European tales) was the class reading about Rama in the Ramayana. In this story, it infers many cultural aspects and ways in which to behave within their specific culture of India. It references the funeral rights of a man (needing the first born son to lead the funeral rights), and the character Rama giving up his sandals in order to show freedom of obligations. Despite the tale portrayed as factual, it depicts human-like monkeys that aid the protagonist of the story as if it is not odd to believe in a monkey-human race along side human beings.

Over all, I found that learning about tales from India opens the idea of fairy tales I have even further; seeing that many stories may not have the same purpose (teaching a moral lesson or aiding an unconscious dilemma), it yields the same importance to people’s lives. These tales are just as valuable to how one behaves/views life as a fairy tale on the other side of the world.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cinderella: Is Magic Reall Real?

In class, we watched the film ‘Pretty Woman’ which, just like the tales of ‘Cinderella’, depicts a woman rising to ‘riches’ happiness from ‘rags’ and sadness with the help of magic. ‘Pretty Woman’ follows the same premise only set in the real world. A woman who lived in low class, with a job that was shameful, rose to a life of happiness, high class, and a life she was proud of in the film. How does this heroine accomplish this complete turn-around of her life? Magic of course.
Magic, not in the sense of spells and wands, but in the sense of what the real world has closest to magical. In the real world, magic can be seen through luck and inside people’s characteristics such as charm, kindness, and love.
Unlike in the world of make-believe where all good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished, the real world can be backwards where no good deed goes unpunished. So while fairytale characters that have such magical characteristics always attain happiness, people in the real world do not have such a guarantee. This is where luck sparks the magical aspect needed for a fairytale happy ending in reality.
Luck is our real world’s version of magic. Although fairytales are under fiction, they address very real aspects in a person’s life and mind. Luck is no exception. Magic is that ‘something special’ needed to pave the way to fortune or ‘riches’. Life would be a lot easier with access to something so great, but sadly we do not have the luxury. However the real world show mercy on us, and lets us have a spec of that magic in the form of luck.
The main character of ‘Pretty Woman’, Vivian, has a loving hear of gold, with a sense of humor, generosity, and beautiful to boot! These are the perfect kinds of characteristics to have to have a happy ending in fairytales, but it’s the real word and Vivian is living a ‘low life’ life style despite such charm. Normally in fairytales, magic jump in at this point to fix this unfair situation, instead luck appears. The depiction of Vivian receiving her ‘magic’ through luck occurs when there is a brief debate on whether Vivian or her roommate would leave with the man. Vivian got lucky. 
Although I do believe in the existence of luck, it does not mean I think luck is as present as many would ideally prefer it to be. In fairytales, the heroine is so easily blessed with magic in the pursuit of her happiness; luck does not always show up in the lives of good and kind people. When it does, luck can possibly pave a ‘happiness path’ and it’s a person’s charming personality that finishes the path if successful. So basically, the idea of ‘magic’ is not realistic and in the world of fairytales, however it does symbolize the idea of luck in fairytales, which can occur from time to time in the real world.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blue Beard: 2 Stars

 Of all the fairy tales I have read in class, the versions of Blue Beard are the darkest tales by far. I am a huge fan of horror films, yet I was still taken aback by the gory tale. The version I preferred the most to the other versions of Blue Beard is ‘Mr. Fox’ by Joseph Jacobs.
I found Jacob's version of Blue Beard written in a very pleasant style that is almost poetic in it’s rhythmic pattern. Unlike the Grimm’s version, ‘Fitcher’s Bird’, Jacob does not blatantly state how the woman heroine is “clever and cunning” (Tatar pg. 149). Instead, he let’s her actions speak for themselves by describing her uncovering the true Mr. Fox. She does this on the day of signing their marriage contract to reveal his murderous character, unlike the ‘Robber’s Bride’ tale where she tells her father before the group of family and friends.
She takes it into her own hands and not depend on other’s around her, depending on her intelligence and tact to reveal the evil man. This is not so in the ‘Robber’s Bride’ tale because she does not discover the truth on her own, but with the help of an old woman she discovers the murderous man’s true intentions.
For this reason, I disliked the ‘Robber’s Bride’ version. I found the only positive depiction of a lead female character was that her gut feeling told her she did not like the evil man. It mde her appear weak and depend on those around her to see the truth.
As for the Grimm’s tale, I disliked it because when the evil sorcerer took each of the sisters, it only took a touch to get them to come away with him in his basket. Too me, this seems like it symbolized the ease of an evil man to seduce naïve women, reminiscent of the motifs of Little Red Riding Hood.
Although I preferred ‘Mr. Fox’ over the other versions of Blue Beard, I actually disliked all of them over many other tales we have read so far in class. I disliked the versions of Blue Beard in general because of it reaffirming the fears of marriage to young girls that other tales attempt to calm, such as Beauty and the Beast (Tatar pg. 139). The Blue Beard tales just do not fit the mold I have of what a fairy tale is because of this reaffirming of children’s fears.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rammstein's Snow White

The tone of the music video was intense. The intensity set the mood of the ‘tale’ in the video, which felt a lot heavier than the Snow White fairytales. The main character(s) of the video is also different than the tale. Instead of the main character being the beautiful, kind, and lovely Snow White, the video focused on the dwarf’s perspective in a darker version of the tale.
The Snow White presented in Rammstein’s music video was amusingly dressed in the Disney’s Snow White’s costume. Why amusing? As soon as I see the costume, my mind puts Disney’s Snow White’s kind and pure personality into the Snow White in the music video…and that is quickly turned up side down by the contrasting personality of Rammstein’s Snow White. This Snow White, although appears to be the symbol of a truly innocent young woman, she is actually has the persona of the evil stepmother.
I laughed when I considered the correlation to the ‘false Snow White’ and Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf as a ‘false gentleman’. Rammstein’s music video appears to visually depict a Snow White fairy tale, however expressing the moral of the Little Red Riding Hood’s fairytale.

What also struck me was the difference in the ending. Technically both show Snow White dead inside a class coffin and awoken from her sleep. However, the feeling at the ending of the tale and video are so very different. On the one hand, the Snow White fairytale is triumphant and happy, and on the other the video’s ending was sad and downtrodden with the heroes (dwarfs) loss against the villain (Snow White).
Rammstein’s video strikes down what we think of when we see the imagery of Snow White, and manipulates it into something as twisted as the contorted tree in Rammstein’s video. The symbol of Snow White is replaced by the symbol of the Evil Queen. This is further emphasized by the adoration Rammstein’s Snow White has for the poisonous, tempting red apple- forcing the dwarfs to polish her coveted bundle.
The symbol of the apple is contorted just as Snow White as well as similar. The fairytale’s apple is the sign of temptation power, and although the apples in the video also symbolizes the temptation of power, it is a symbol of the accomplishment of attaining such power which is literally represented by the video’s Snow White’s power over the dwarfs.

After comparing the vastly different depiction of Snow White between the fairytale and the music video, I prefer the fairytale version of Snow White. The video, although eye opening, distorts the classic tale too much for my taste. I appreciate the format of the fairytale and maintaining the magic within its format over its distortion.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Jung and Fairy Tales

Oh Jung you smartie-pants! 
Your ideas have really helped when taking a closer look into fairy tales and folklore. Jung believed that fairytales gave us more insight into the collective unconscious that we all share. His concept of the ‘collective unconscious’ allows us to really dig deep into the understanding of fairy tales. As mentioned in class, fairy tales are “the purest and simplest expression of the collective unconscious psychic processes” (Dr. Esa and Dr. Mazeroff ). What does this mean?

Fairy tales allow us to look into the human psyche’s collective unconscious, which is the unconscious that is shared by all people all over the world and time. Jung believed that the ‘collective unconscious’ is universal memories that are built into all human beings (according to our guest speaker, Dr. Mazeroff). In other words, it is not a learned concept, but actually inherently within us before any other influences in an individual’s life.  To assist in uncovering the essence of the collective unconscious, fairy tales possess archetypes which are universal images or forms that are within fairy tales.

Archetypes within the tales are symbols that help us to reach the ‘collective unconscious’ concepts the tales represent. For example, the famous mirror in Snow White symbolizes vanity, and the primeval forest archetype found in stories such as Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood symbolizes the unconscious or the unknown of the ‘adult-world’ (Dr. Mazeroff). These symbols are universal and are used in fairy tales across cultures and time periods- which makes sense since it applies to the ‘collective unconscious which is also universal. (This was further explained in class by Dr. Esa when he explained that the concept of snow is not universal since it is not present across the world, however the concept of ‘bad weather’ or ‘potentially dangerous’ weather could be an archetype that is expressed in the use of ‘snow’.)

The Jungian psychoanalysis apply the concept and use of fairy tales to one’s psychological strive for individualism. They believe that fairy tales are the best way to understand the collective unconscious that helps one understand themselves and their personal unconscious’s struggles and difficult aspects of the self. Fairy tales, according to Jung’s ideas, help the individual basically reach a sound psychological state where they are able to adapt to the world around them properly deal with any psychological dilemmas that may occur.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

She Loves Wolves

Betty Boop Cartoon- 'Dizzy Red Riding Hood'

I found this cartoon very amusing. It spins a different story of Little Red Riding Hood, where although it begins with a rhyming introduction (the ruse of rhymes is common in fairytales) it does not leave a ‘good’ message to the viewer. The lesson of the story is unlike Perrault’s version that tells young women to be weary of the wolf (gentleman) in the world (the forest), and also the Grimm brother’s version that depicts a young women learning a valuable lesson. This cartoon seemed to have a very different lesson. From what I took from the clip was that a truly ‘good’ gentleman has to appear as an aggressive, manly, man (wolf) for a girl to like you.
Not exactly a lesson boys should learn but maybe it’s sadly true since it’s a common belief that ‘nice guys finish last’.

The nice guy even states, while he’s putting the wolf’s skin on to trick the naïve girl, that “she Loves wolves”. So he tricks the girl who goes on and on about his manly appearance while in the wolf’s skin. He gets the girl and the girl is just as naïve as she was in the beginning. The girl learns no lesson about the dangers of an aggressive sexual predator that wants to eat her up, instead it seems like she doesn’t have to really because there’s always going to be a ‘good guy’ that will save her from the bad boy.

In the spirit of Perrault’s need to add a ‘moral’ to his stories, here’s one for this old cartoon:

Do not worry about going into the world with wolves around every tree.
A true gentleman will be there to protect you as you can see.

Girl’s want one thing, a strong muscled man.
To have her heart, act tough and manly as much as you can.
You can trick a pretty girl with this very simple plan.