Sunday, April 15, 2012

Not a Very Fairy-Tale

This week we read Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde's "Fairy Tales." I really liked them a lot. They were interesting, funny, and generally enjoyable. However, they were not at all typical of fairy tales as we have studied up to this point.

Firstly, Andersen and Wilde both go into much more description than a typical fairy tale. Most fairy tales comment on a feature or two of the main character, say, flowing blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. These tales, on the other hand, had much more in depth descriptions of the characters. These stories were also much longer, covering more bases and telling more aspects of the story than a traditional fairy tale would.

Religion is also brought more into these tales than others. The Happy Prince, by Wilde, is one example in which the God of Christianity appears, and, true to Christian tradition, is just and all-knowing. In traditional fairy tales we see much less use of God and much more reliance on the characters to solve their own problems.
"Happily ever after," one of the two most iconic fairy tale phrases (the other being "once upon a time"), does not appear in Andersen's or Wilde's work. In The Happy Prince, for example, the statue of the Prince is torn down and the swallow dies, despite all they have done for the city. Instead it is God who grants them each a wonderful eternal life in heaven, which, as I mentioned above, would not happen in traditional fairy tales.

Andersen and Wilde both tell compelling, interesting stories. Both are clearly good writers, creative and artistic. However, I do not think either can be classified as true fairy tales, because of the depth of description, the use of religion, and the lack of "fairy tale endings."

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