Sunday, November 30, 2014

...The End.

            When I started the class in the beginning of the semester, I thought that this class was going to be a fun, interesting, and watch lots of Disney movies, kind of class. The first year seminar definitely lived up to these expectations. The class was filled with jokes, laughter, and lots of Disney puns. I got to meet fourteen wonderful classmates, a fearless peer mentor, and professor knowledgeable beyond belief about fairytales.  Most importantly, we watched one movie a week. However, what I did not expect from this class was the meanings and interpretations from the original Grimm tales. Yes, I am a person who overly enjoys fairytales, but before this class I had never read the original tales. I had only seen the Disney versions, or other adaptions to the famous tales. I was expecting the tale and the Disney movies to actually be rather similar, but when the class started, I realized that was not really going to happen.

            When the class first started, we looked at understanding who the two men behind all of the fairy tales were. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were two hard working, dedicated brothers, who strived to preserve and rebuild the people’s belief in Germany and of German culture. Their method of doing this was through collecting, rewriting, and publishing the fairytales and fables that had been passed down from generation to generation by way of story telling.  They looked to preserve this part of the culture for centuries to come, and indeed they did. Behind each of these stories were messages and lessons used to teach the younger generations, without them even knowing it. Today, the same messages and lessons remain the same but are received differently by the younger generation.

            Like it or not, the Grimm fairytales are often stories related to sex, and sexual maturity. It may seem a little inappropriate to be reading these stories to young children then, but the tales cover it up in their construction. There are heroes and princesses who little boys and girls can idolize, but most importantly, there is the magic. The magic that allows for spindles to make a princess fall asleep for a hundred years, houses be made completely out of sweets, hair be the length of a tower, an apple make a princess fall asleep, and have a frog turn into a prince. The magic is at the core of the fairytales, and with repetition, evil, and happy endings, it allows for the lessons to be taught without the child realizing the lesson until they are ready. As fantastical and magical as fairy tales are, there is more to them than just the words on the pages we read. There are also the emotions that are evoked in us: hope, amazement, and wonder. We read these stories because we love them, and all of what makes a fairy tale a fairy tale.

    In this class, when comparing the Grimm stories to the Disney films it is often found that the main characters are often similar, but there is not much after that.  Disney took the fairytales as stepping-stones for his success. He incorporated his own life story into the tales; having the small town worker defeat the giants, and rise to the thrown. Disney was able to portray his own, “Cinderella story” through many of his works, but when making the movies he often became the villain to the
hardworking individuals, taking all of the credit for himself.  Walt Disney was also able to change the Grimm stories to fit the zeitgeist of America during the World War and was able to spread his versions of the tales globally. He took the fairytale business away from the Brothers Grimm and to this day Disney still controls it.

            In the realm of today, Disney is the overpowering force that 
drives fairytales into the lives of young children. However, it is not the only force to be reckoned with. The Brothers Grimm’s tales still hold truth and information relatable to this day in age, and I think they should be read. They give off true messages to the readers such as waiting until you are mentally and physically ready for sex, or not to be greedy and gluttonous. There are also feminist interpretations, and views from Bettelheim and Jung that give other perspectives and advice to the meanings of these tales. In comparison, most of the Disney movies leave you with a song stuck in your head, a smile on your face, and a belief that your prince charming is just going to find you and save you someday. Though there are not as many princes today as there used to be, there is nothing wrong with this mentality. However, as Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Einstein was a pretty smart guy, and by looking and understanding the original text it is clear how reading the Brother’s Grimm can in fact make us even smarter.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Hair

When looking for a cartoon about Rapunzel there were some interesting options, but they all seemed to revolve around the same topic: hair. Some had hair growing out of Rapunzel’s, some had her long hair coming from her armpits. There were some every shocked Princes and also a stylists or two that would come to call to Rapunzel, saying it was time for her conditioning.  In both the original Grimm tale as well as in the movie, Rapunzel’s hair serves as a tool for people to use her as. In the Grimm tale, her hair is used to pull up the Prince and Mother Gothel. While the long hair is a symbol for beauty, it was also her connection to the outside world. In the Disney movie, her hair serves as more than just transportation to the top of the tower. Rapunzel’s hair’s rejuvenating and healing powers are what cause Mother Gothel to kidnap her in the beginning of the film, and keep her isolated in the tower.

          I thought that this comic was rather appropriate, in a feminist way. One of her main purposes in both stories is to be used by those around her and in this comic, Rapunzel is refusing to be used. She is standing up to her Prince, saying she would rather, “shave [her] head,” and beg for coins at an airport before she allows herself to be used, “as a stepping stone.”  This comic shows Rapunzel standing up for herself.  In the Grimm version of the tale, Rapunzel defies Mother Gothel by seeing the Prince and becoming pregnant, but she does not stand up for herself in the end. In the Disney movie, Rapunzel does stand up to Mother Gothel when she realizes her true identity as the “Lost Princess”.  The original purpose of the hair in Rapunzel is to represent beauty, but in this comic Rapunzel is more than just the hair on her head.

Comic by: Conservatoons 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Three Beards, One Color

           The two stories by the Brothers Grimm, “The Robber Bridegroom” and the “Fitcher’s Bird”, and the story, “Bluebeard” by Charles Perrault, are three tales that are related in plot and characters, but each vary in their own way. 

In each of the stories the male character is older than his bride, his appearance is similar in two of the stories, but their way of choosing a bride is all different. “The Robber Bridegroom”, varies in that it is the only tale of the three that the male did not have a blue beard. He is given the hand of miller’s beautiful daughter because to he seems that he will be able to provide for her. His true
identity is revealed to be an abusive, drunk, and brutal man who murders a girl and, “chopped her beautiful body into pieces,” with his friends while his bride was hiding behind a barrel in the corner. In this Grimm tale the bridegroom and the bride had not been married, as is the same with “The Fitcher’s Bird”. While the man in, “The Robber Bridegroom” is a cannibalistic thug, the blue bearded man in the “Fitcher’s Bird” is a wizard. The wizard disguises himself as a beggar and kidnaps the sisters when they touch him. He takes them back to his home to test them to see if they are the right women to be his bride. The physical appearance the wizard in “Fitcher’s Bird” and “Bluebeard” are similar that both men have a blue beard. In the Perrault tale, “Bluebeard” is a rich aristocratic man that finds his bride by hosting an eight-night event to persuade his neighbor to let him marry one of her daughters. In all three of the tales, it is the youngest, beautiful daughter that is the main female character. In “Bluebeard” and “Fitcher’s Bird,” the blue bearded men test their brides by allowing them to have full access to the house but forbidding them to go into one room.

           The only use of magic in these tales, comes when the brides are tested by their husbands. In “The Fitcher’s Bird,” the wizard give the prospective wives an egg they must keep with them at all times. When they enter the room they were forbidden to the egg turns red, and is unable to be cleaned. In, “Bluebeard,” the key that unlocks the door to the forbidden room is also the magical indicator.  The keys to the locked rooms serve to represent temptation, and when the egg and the key become covered in blood is represents their disobedience.

        In each of the tales, the disobedience leads to the bride finding out that their husband, or soon to be husband, has a dark past with his past wives murdered. In each of the three tales, the female protagonist is able to survive and the husbands are dead. In “The Robber Bridegroom” the bride tells a dream of the night she was in the room and shows the finger of the murdered girl as her proof. The bridegroom is then arrested and “he and his whole bands were executed for their shameful crimes.” In the, “Fitcher’s Bird” the bride is able to save her sisters, escape the home by covering herself with honey and feathers, and then her brothers, “set fire to the house, and the sorcerer and all his cronies were burned to death.” In “Bluebeard”, the bride’s brother also came to her rescue when, “they plunged their swords through his body and left him dead.”  

            My favorite of these three tales was “Fitcher’s Bird”. I liked how the bride was able to out smart the wizard multiple times: by keeping the egg in a safe place instead of with her, by making him carry her sisters back to the village, decorating a skull to put in the window, and also disguising herself as a bird to escape. I found the whole tale to be rather amusing and an interesting version of the bluebeard tale.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Little Rude Riding Hood

          We often correlate Red Riding Hood's questions with her sheltered life, or to some people her stupidity. But what if she was just being rude?

          In this cartoon by Thaves, the Brothers Grimm's Little Red Cap has been changed to Little Rude Riding Hood. I find this comic rather funny and different from the actual character the Brothers Grimm wrote. In the original tale, Little Red Cap is a young, na├»ve, unsuspecting girl who can be easily swayed off of her path. In the beginning of the story her mother reminds her to have manners, saying, “And when you enter the room, don’t forget to say good morning, and don’t go peeping in all corners.”  Further in the story, Little Red Cap does question her grandmother, but I believe that it is more from her curiosity and since she has grown up so sheltered by her mother. Red asked the questions because she was still a young girl, who are inquisitive. The girl in the story, however, is not the girl in the comic. 

          In this cartoon, Little Rude Riding Hood is quite the opposite. She is blunt and rude to her grandmother. The fact that she also hasn’t noticed that her grandmother was a wolf makes me question her intelligence, but this same point adds to the humor of the comic. I think this social comic also reflects how the younger generations lack of manners to their elders.  This was a message that the Brothers Grimm tried to convey in their stories as well. 

This comic was created by Thanves and published on May 6, 2009.