Thursday, November 29, 2012

...And They All Lived Happily Ever After

After revisiting all of my posts on my blog, I realize that I truly have learned a lot this semester.  I came into the class in the beginning of the year expecting to learn about the Grimm fairy tales, compare Disney's recreations of the tales to the originals, and analyze the meanings behind each fairy tale.  Although we did just that in class, I believe I have learned a lot more than what was expected.

Not only have we studied fairy tales from the psychoanalytic approach, but we have also studied them from the feminist and social perspectives as well.  We ripped apart a lot of the fairy tales I grew up with such as Cinderella, Little Red Cap, Rapunzel, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and the Frog King.  For every symbol, we found a meaning and analyzed it.  For every character, we had a way of interpreting their actions in the tale.  We looked at each tale in depth and I must say, there was not a dull day in our class while we were interpreting them.

Every Wednesday evening we watched the Disney version of the tale we were learning about that week.  The following day, we compared the original tale to the Disney movie.  All I have to say about this is, Disney movies will never be the same.  In fact, no fairy tale will ever be the same.  A lot of the meanings behind fairy tales are sexual.  For example, in the original tale Cinderella, the two step sisters cut of a portion of their foot in order to make it fit in the gold slipper.  This represents the girls getting their periods and loosing their innocence.  The slipper also represents a woman's genitals, and the foot the males.  So one can only imagine what the meaning behind the prince putting the gold slipper on Cinderella's foot is.

We also learned why Disney had changed a lot of the Grimm's fairy tales.  A lot of his movies came out in the time of the Great Depression.  In order to give men hope again, he created movies that depicted a young woman in need of rescuing, with a strong, heroic prince to save her.  Also, in the majority of the original Grimm tales, the main character does not have animals dressing him/her in the morning, or helping him/her with the chores.  Disney added all of these animals because animals had always been a large part of his life because he grew up on a farm.  However, not only does he add animals, he also gives characters names.  Each one of the Princes we encounter in the movies has a name that was not given to him until the movie had been created.  We also see characters such as the seven dwarfs in Snow White receiving names.  Most of what he did we learned, was to make money though.

This has been an interesting class.  I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about fairy tales, analyzing and interpreting their meanings.  And though what I have learned in class is not something I will be willing to share with my kids in the future, I definitely plan on sharing the fairy tales that I grew up with as well as the new ones I have encountered in this class with them.