Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fairy Tales

Flickr Credit: Mario Lapid
As I mentioned in my latest TBR post, I have a two-volume set of Grimm’s fairy tales, and because I am taking a literature class and all too often the original fairy tales sneak into the backgrounds of other stories, I have reread them.

(And by “other stories” I don’t just mean Cress, which has broken my heart and made me want to claw at Marissa Meyer’s feet until she comes out with Winter). 

However, I am kind of developing bones to pick with fairy tales. Marissa Meyer can take a tale and spin it so that you are paralyzed with feels, completely absorbed for an entire Monday and incapable of paying attention in your classes.

Older fairy tales? Not so much. They’re like, ten pages maximum, bare as can be, and a little bit sickening in an enjoyable sort of way. Allow me to explain.

The youngest child is always the main character…

I do not just have a problem with this because I am the oldest and feel slighted, although I do not deny it would be nice to have an oldest child who was not exceptionally cruel and lazy and male.

…or, they are an only child.

The parents of said child were also abnormally infertile with one exception, which does give me the wondering if the mail man doesn’t make more rounds than usual to that particular house. It’s a little funny, is all I’m saying.

Also, that child is probably a guy…

Guys are pretty much the only people worth writing about apparently, as they are the only people who have adventures and the only kind of child anyone would want, anyway.

…and nobody likes him…

More often than not, this is the underdog we’re reading about. He is the youngest child, nobody wants him, nobody likes him, there’s every chance he’s ugly, and there’s a surprising number of these characters who are as dumb as a brick.

…unless she is actually a girl…

Every now and again the story is about a girl, but she won’t be anything like those ladies in “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” in The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

…in which case she is abnormally beautiful and selectively resourceful.

I have not yet met an ugly girl in this book. There’s always some solution the girl can use, like tricking her dad into giving her fabulous gifts so she can run away, but her goal is almost always marriage, and her brain is turned on about 10% of the time.

(As a side note, the other female characters in these stories are usually princesses, stunningly gorgeous, and either so pure the angels cry or so evil that devil spawn shun her. There’s really no in between.)

The middle class is nonexistent.

It’s like we’re in Spain after all the Moors and Jews were driven out by Isabella and Ferdinand. There’s people with a trade, but these tradespeople are remarkably bad with money, and so there are the very rich and the very poor—although the developing middle class may not have been apparent when these were written.

More than that, unrealistic things happen…

I am supposed to be suspending my disbelief, and I understand that, but for one thing, I can’t understand why so many parents loathe their own offspring. People get kind of excited about having kids in my exerience.

…especially regarding random time lapses…

A person can be born and reach manhood in the same sentence. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve always felt like there’s a little stretch between conception and somebody’s eighteenth birthday. I dunno, maybe that’s just how I was raised, but this is how it is in Fairy Tales.

…magical animals…

These forests. They are entirely populated by animals that used to be human but were enchanted by evil witches. There’s a 90% chance these animals are royal too, which makes me seriously concerned for the political standings of the surrounding countries—who the heck is in charge of these lands?

…royal marriages…

Not that I’m bashing marriage between social classes, but political marriages were very valuable. At least, I would assume it’s cheaper to hold a wedding than a war. Marrying your daughters off to third-born dunces doesn’t seem kingly to me.

…genetics…

Hans my Hedgehog was born a hedgehog because his father said he would have a son, even if it was only a hedgehog. I know, I know, symbolism when his hedgehog self gets burned off, I know, but I am taking AP Biology and I don’t think that’s how it happens.

…reasonable sources of help…

They didn’t have Google, okay, but sometimes these characters do incredibly unwise things and the only reason they are saved is because a magical animal pities them too much to let them die.

…or other worldly laws, physical, magical, or otherwise.

There’s a chick who can fit three dresses in a walnut. Cannibalism is common practice among evil stepmothers. Magic is used willy-nilly as a deus ex machina without ever actually pinpointing how stuff works or why it could. The world is crazy, I tell you.


I must admit, they do make good bedtime stories. And I read my favorite last night: The Story of One Who Set Out to Study Fear.

There’s morality, there’s Biblical references, there’s key points that are used over and over again in our own literature—but I’m not so unrealistic as to think they’re the epitome of story time material. They’re bare bones stories about the neglected, the unwanted, and the unworthy—and their ability to find good in the end.

Not bad.

But forgive me if I find Cress more emotionally moving.

OH MY GOSH DID YOU EVEN READ WHAT WOLF SAID ABOUT SCARLET THAT WAS THE MOST ROMANTIC THING EVER AND CINDER WAS SO BRAVE AND THORNE HAS SUCH DREAMY EYES AND IKO IKO IKO AND KAI AND DR. ERLAND AND CRESS AND WOLF AND SCARLET AND THORNE BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING MY FAVORITE CHARACTER WHY DID IT HAVE TO END? WHY?

FANGIRL ERROR
Heather’s Good Sense not found
Please denote your favorite fairy tale in the comments
While Heather undergoes a system reboot

Thank you for your cooperation

6 comments :

  1. I know what you mean. There are so many good ideas in fairy tales, and some of them really are great stories, but the suspension of belief, and the cliches are pretty noticable. Still, at least they give us writers plenty of fodder for other books. If it wasn't for them, we might not have Cinder, Scarlet and Cress! (A world without those would be a fearsome place indeed)

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    1. You're quite right—had we not these fanciful fantasies who knows where literature might have gone? And YES, I don't know how I lived so long without reading those books... Long live Cinder and company. :)

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  2. Hahaha, the last bit made me laugh so hard.

    Yeah, fairytales are a bit formulaic, but some of them have the loveliest premises ever. I'm actually just the teeniest bit obsessed with the Chinese creation myth -- giants holding up the sky and rivers of blood and suns shot down. There are actually a few women who don't fit into your categories, although it's very typical mother figure stuff ...

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    1. Oh good, I do try to make people laugh—I like knowing I'm successful. XD

      You're right, but I suppose the lovely premises are the reason we keep using them again and again. I'm actually not familiar with the Chinese creation myth—I don't suppose a knowledgeable person like yourself can link me to a good source?

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  3. Did you successfully reboot, Heather? There, there...I understand the completely mind blowing MELT DOWN. BECAUSE OMG!! MARISSA MEYER IS PROBABLY THE QUEEN OF YA AT THE MOMENT AND SHE IS TOYING WITH OUR FEELS AND NOW WINTER IS PUSHED BACK TO THE END OF 2015 AND I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG BECAUSE FAJSDKLFADSAF.

    *ahem* In other news, yes I totally agree with this. And plus if a girl happens to be less than pretty, she gets "cured" to true beauty. Father's should not remarry. And if Google was invented back then, we would have no Grimm's fairy tales. *nods*

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    1. I'm holding on, but YOU'RE SO RIGHT IT IS FICTIONALLY IRRESPONSIBLE TO MAKE US WAIT A WHOLE NOTHER YEAR TO DEAL WITH THIS EMOTIONAL WRECK SHE'S FORCED UPON US. *weeps*

      That's very true—now that I think about it, in those books ugly or incurably average girls end up dying or getting stuck mucking stables the rest of their lives. And you're spot on with the others!

      You'd think these guys would learn. XD

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