Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Introduction to the Fairy Tales
Once upon a time people told each other stories of great and dark deeds, of hopes, of dreams, and fears. They told stories for entertainment on long nights after hard days, and perhaps to help transmit their culture and ideas. Certainly many such stories hold great moral messages, and for some of these this message is the central theme of the story. However despite any attempts to teach messages and transfer culture events happened to them beyond their control.
For these people the peasants who told these stories had very little control over the world, so as they passed their stories on from generation to generation something happened, their cultures changed, over and over again, so that the concerns and thoughts of the people changed, some of these changes took years, others where dramatic from conversions to new religions, famines that drove them from their homes, and invaders from other lands. And as these people changed so to did their stories, morphing and evolving, these stories that were passed from culture to culture from person to person would grow becoming a mean of the humanity from whence they came, and while such stories will always reflect the time that they come from they will reflect in some way thousands of years of human history, for the thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams, and lives of thousands if not millions of people back each story.
These people who told stories went through cycles, cycles of prosperity and of unparalleled poverty and horror, from times when starvation required the abandonment of children, to times when raging hoards from unknown lands destroyed everything that they held dear. Diseases swept the villages, with unknown causes the illnesses killed half the population prompting philosophers to advice parents not to get close to their children.
At the same time these people experience triumph as they built a Renaissance, found room to dream, had children they loved, and a spouse who loved them. Many of these people even experienced the courage to stand up against the darkness, to overthrow their lords and to hope for a better future.
This is the world of fairy tales, a strange world of magic and unparalleled human emotion. These stories are often the raw uncensored fears of the humans who created them, from dark woodlands to cannibals, incest, and wicked stepmothers, these stories tell of human history and human thought as few other things can. For as means of humanity folktales are not the thoughts and aspirations of one person but of generations upon generations of people. And each person has their own hopes, fears, and dreams. The fact that so many people have touched on fairy tales makes their interpretation in the historical purposes very difficult. For many symbols that made the first story significant have been altered, or taken out completely, replaced by new thoughts and ideas. Interpretation then is a puzzle one pieced together by looking at history, and culture, as much as at the story itself.