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.