Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Once upon a time..."

There is a world that is full of magic and wonder, a world that every person has heard of but few are able to truly understand. Mystical and wonderful this world is not hard to enter; in fact it is rather simple. You only need to say the words, “Once upon a time”. The phrase is one that has been around for centuries. It elicits an unspoken promise of beauty, adventure, love and magic.  Inciting that an journey awaits: one with munificent heroes, malevolent villains, with damsels in distress and evil lurking at every corner. Alas, as thrilling and entertaining as these tales are the time of men donning their armor to slay dragons has past. 

In the realm of today, there are no knights in shining armor or witches cackling by their cauldrons. Though the princes are few, they are not rushing to save damsels in distress, and there are no fairy godmothers turning pumpkins into carriages. In realm of today, the tales of foes and the woes of adventure remain on the pages of books. Our fairy tales begin with, “Once upon a time,” but we have moved away from the enchanted forests of the original stories and created sugarcoated versions all ending with, “and they lived happily ever after”. That is why I am embarking on my own adventure taking this FYS, to see what can be learned from the words the Brothers Grimm wrote over two hundred years ago. My quest will entail reading the original tales to learn about how the stories have been altered as society has developed, and to see how the interpretations of today differ from their original meanings.  

My interest in fairy tales is not new, which is another reason why I chose the From Grimm to Disney seminar. I have always loved the world of, “Once upon a time,” growing up with the Disney films and the modern adaptions in literature.  My favorite retelling is the book, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. There are all the normal motifs of a fairy tale: a beautiful princess, a charming prince, the evil antagonist with her entourage, and the sparkle of magic. The power of “people speak”, the ability to work with the wind, or communicate with animals is the magic that seems fantastical, but can also be seen in traits of people today. This story, magical in its aspects, is one of the few stories that has the female protagonist as her own hero. She does not depend on a male consort or prince to help save her. She is able to do that on her own, finding courage, strength and power in who she is.  Magical and empowering, this tale is my favorite.

Entering the mystical and magical world of fairy tales is not hard; one just need to say, “Once upon a time.” However, to truly understand the stories I will adventure away from the wonderful world of Disney I was raised with, and into the enchanted forest that the Brothers Grimm received their stories from.