Module 2 Fairytales and Myths

Module 2 Fairytales and Myths - Module 2 Fairytales and...

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Module 2 Fairytales and Myths I. Fairytales and Myths Fairytales and myths are related in a few ways. It has been suggested that myths reveal the fundamental nature of the human mind. Psychologists like Freud and Jung, who are interested in dreams, find that similar elements occur in their patients’ dreams and in myths and fairy tales. If fairy tales are related to dreams, these stories may, like myths, represent something that is essential to what it is to be human. Fairy tales share other characteristics with myths, as well. Like myths, they are often related orally as stories, rather than being written down as literary works. This means that they change and evolve in the telling the way that myths do; folklorists have often been able to trace versions of a story and note how it is told differently in various regions. Even in one location, one person’s telling of a fairy tale will be somewhat different from another’s although people hearing the two different versions will for the most part agree that they are the same story. In addition, because fairy tales are handed down or transmitted orally, they can be paratactic in the same way as myths. Paratactic storytelling is when you string together ideas without showing the temporal or logical connections between them. In paratactic composition, the audience does not expect the author to provide logical connectives. The audience also is not bothered by logical inconsistencies. When a story is not written down, the listeners do not have written versions to put next to each other and compare word for word, the way we would. So the audience just does not think that way, and they are not interested in contradictions in the story. They are listening to the story for the main point, not checking for the consistency of incidental details. An example would be a child saying “I was in the park and I saw a bird and I chased it and it flew away”! It has been suggested that fairy tales, like myths, are related to rituals, and that they are stories that give meaning to patterns of action practiced in the society that tells them. Think of a child going to sleep at night, listening to different fairy tales, commenting on them and discussing them with a parent. The stories become an informal means of education for the child, giving meaning to the practices described in them. The stories also become part of role-playing games that allow children to deal with the conflicts and tensions inherent in their society. Fairy tales also foster psychological growth and development. In our society, many of the stories from the Brothers Grimm are cleaned up to eliminate some of the violent parts of the story. For example, according to the Grimm version, Cinderella’s stepsisters are punished by being blinded. In versions you may be familiar with, the sisters are not punished at all, or their punishment is simply that they continue to be their own unlovely selves. However, psychologist Bruno Bettelheim has argued that the stories
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