Why fairytales? Why are new television programs such as "Grimm" or the "Once Upon a Time" show being made for a society with advanced technological and communication options?
Why do these stories, told for generations, still stick around in our modern times? When you dig deep into the world of fairytales, you will find so much more than dancing fairies, helpless women and men who are just the "required hero" or even a "mindless villain." Here are just five of many reasons that we are seeing more fairytales in the media.
1. Fairytales illustrate universal needs and desires.
Fairytales are true. While the magical nature of the tales may not be reality, fairytales contain truths that all human beings feel in our "universal mind." Common truths and feelings such as loss of children and family, feeling mistreated, fear of the unknown, showing kindness, being polite are just a few of the many ideas expressed in fairytales that we still experience today. Through fairytales, we can see expressed our own anxieties and concerns.
2. Fairytales use archetypes or universal roles.
In fairytales, we can see others or ourselves in the types of characters. Wise kings, brave soldiers, loving mothers, courageous fathers, foolish tricksters, dangerous rogues- all of these are typical types of human beings. In most fairytales, these characters are not named. The role that a character plays tells us what they represent. As an example, most of us know people who misuse their power or status and a wicked king or queen would fill that role in a fairytale.
3. Fairytales end with justice.
At times, the real world seems unfair. These stories usually deliver justice or punishment to those who harm others. While we today might not peck out the eyes of rude sisters or drown an evildoer in a lake, somewhere in our mind we are glad that these tales show the bad people meeting with their just ends. Our unconscious mind takes hope that good overcame evil. Just as well, we enjoy seeing true love fulfilled even if our own loves are sometimes impossible to attain.
4. Fairytales teach self-reliance.
Perhaps you are surprised by this idea of self-reliance when many modern incarnations of stories seem to feature helpless women or children. Yet, when you research many fairytales back to their roots, you discover that the damsels may be in distress, but they are not waiting around to be saved by a silent and macho man. For example, in some original versions of Cinderella, little Cindy takes action by using the magic tree to meet her needs- the magic tree she artfully asked her father to bring her. She is not waiting around helpless, needing a winged godmother to rescue her with bippity magic.
5. Fairytales have a comfortable predictability in tumultuous world.
In any time, today or "once upon a time," there has been upheaval and uncertainty. Fairytales give voice to uncertainties and struggle, even if we cannot express these thoughts ourselves. We learn that while there may be evil in the world, that evil can and will be overcome. For many adults, hearing or seeing fairytales, even in the new clothes of television shows, bring a memory of an easier time or at least some moments when we felt safe as children.
Sean Buvala, an award-winning professional storyteller since 1986, is the author of the fathering book, "DaddyTeller," (Daddyteller.com) where he teaches men how to bond with their children via the use of book-down storytelling. He is also the founder and national director of Storyteller.net, a leading internet site supporting the growth of storytelling and storytellers for audiences around the world.
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