Are Fairy Tales Really All That Nice?

It wasn’t that long ago (ok, maybe in end of last year still) that A1 and I were discussing children’s stories (I do not remember how we got on this topic) and how if you really look at it, they’re creepy. 

I was going to post about it and then somewhere along the line I forgot or got distracted or something. What brought it to my mind today was that one of the morning radio DJ’s had mentioned it while I was driving to work. And then of course it was like “OOOOOHHH YEEEESS, thaats what I wanted to do!” (a month or more later). 

I mean, have you really read ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Goldilocks and the three bears’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’ just to name a few?

It just kind of seems that ‘Little Red’ enjoyed disobeying her parents, was lazy and just spoke to any strangers she came across. Old ‘Goldi’ over there just teaches’ us that breaking and entering is cool. And if you read the actual Grimm fairy tale, she actually gets eaten by said bears. When the ‘Bears and Goldi’ became all cute and nice is beyond me. 

Speaking of the Brothers’ Grimm, I don’t think they intended for their stories to turn cute. The aim was to make children aware (and probably afraid) to not get up to any shenanigans (yeah, I used that word) or else! Obviously I think we would probably do more psychological damage to our kids had we read it the way it was intended to be read, but hey, don’t call them fairy tales then. Maybe call it “Book of Scary Sh*t” or something. But fairy tales is not it.

Another point is, if you have a look at the “fairy tales” (Not all from the Bros Grimm though, but still “fairy tales”) that they have turned into full blown big budget movies, its kind of dark. Case in point: Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, Snow White. What on earth would make them think we would take young kids to see that? Its freaky.



5 thoughts on “Are Fairy Tales Really All That Nice?

  1. When my kids were really smalland couldn’t read, I would always improvise on the parts I found unsettling. Didn’t want to scare them to death just before bed!

  2. Um… It’s not the scaring part that is the essence of folk tales, like fairytales. The scaring bit is only the means to an end: teaching kids about right and wrong – and how right always wins in the end, while wrong gets their comeuppance.

    You talk about Red Riding Hood: she was nearly eaten (was she? depends on the version of the tale) and that was one way of teaching her a lesson wasn’t it? The wolf got the real raw end of the deal.
    Goldilocks: Breaking and entering, and consequently paying for it with her life. It also tells us that messing with bears is not a very good idea. Better stay away.
    Hans and Gretl are sad children who were so hungry they could eat a house. A person who takes advantage of that weakness in order to abuse (eat) the children, meets a sticky end.
    To add to this: Little Mermaid scarifies her voice (her soul, the essence of her) for some man (on land!) – was that a good idea? In Andersen’s version she needs to be saved by her sisters (who cut off their hair which is a metaphor for sexuality) to return home, where she belongs.

    Personally I don’t like it when folk songs are changed too much to appease children – and their parents. Overall children don’t mind a bit of hack and slash very much in stories because they can still see the symbolism of punishment over the horrific aspects (blooooddd!!!) that we as adults imagine when we hear about what happened to that awful fellow Rumpelstiltskin (who was really a bully wasn’t he?).

    • Too true. Depends on which aspect you look at it. All of the stories have life lessons in them.
      I just think that reading the realistic version of these tales to a 2 or 3 year old could actually scare them even if they do understand. Maybe at an older level its easier to grasp the meaning of those consequences and process it fully. But at 2 or even 3? I’m not entirely sure.

  3. I don’t mind tales that have a lesson as the person above commented, however I was helping a little girl with her homework the other day and they had to read a story about a little cat that ran into a burning house to rescue her kittens. She managed to get two out and when ran in again the house collapsed on her and the other kittens and the two she rescued were crying on the grass. This was prescribed reading from her school. It was horrid!!

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