Disney vs. 7 early fairytales
The 1812 version of Snow White is even worse when you consider that the girl was only seven years old in the tale (plus her unconscious body ended up being carted around by the prince until one of his servants accidentally woke her up). Also, in The Little Mermaid, the mermaid’s unable to speak because she had her tongue cut out >__<
But I’d love to see faithful adaptations of the original tales. Especially Bluebeard. We need a Bluebeard adaptation.
Actually, the original-original pre-Grimm Brothers’ stories that were passed around Europe via oral tradition are nowhere near as violent as the Grimm’s made them. Cinderella’s stepsisters were never ugly and kept their eyes, Snow White’s mother was not even a villain (instead a group of bandits were), and instead of spending the whole story napping Sleeping Beauty outwitted a dangerous bandit leader, wouldn’t let him sleep with her, and saved herself.
The original oral stories were radically changed by the Brothers Grimm to fit their personal and political beliefs. Most notably, they often added in female characters solely for the purpose of making them evil villains and took away most of the heroines’ agency and intelligence. Both brothers belonged to a small fanatical sect of Catholicism that vilified women because of the idea of Original Sin and Wilhelm in particular had a particularly deep hatred of women. The Grimms were actually pretty horrible people. Those cannibalistic queens and ugly stepsisters and the mass amount of violence against women didn’t exist until the Grimms wanted them to. Their ideas stuck so soundly though that we now assume they were in the original tales and that these terrible characters and ideas come out of some perceived barbaric Old World culture. But in truth they’re really the Grimms’ weird obsession with hating women showing through. The original oral folklore focused on the heroes’ and heroines’ good deeds and used them as ways to teach cultural norms and a society’s rules and encouraged girls to be quick-witted and street-savvy instead of passive princesses, and the Grimms promptly stripped that all away.
"Grimms Bad Girls and Bold Boys" by Ruth Bottigheimer is an excellent book on this
I am so happy about this post, you have no idea.
This is why it’s so important to diversify your primary sources. Reading one original collection of fairy tales won’t give you a good understanding of what European folk stories are like. Read five or ten, and the commonalities between all of those will show you what you’re actually looking for.
Also fairy tale collections are only primary sources for the period during which they were collected and from the people who collected them. They are SECONDARY sources for the folk tales themselves because they were presumably collected from a variety of primary sources (namely oral) for the collections. We can only say definitively from the Grimm stories that these two men believed female independence and sexuality should be strictly controlled and harshly punished. We CAN’T say that Germanic folk culture believes that female sexuality and independence should be controlled and punished.
♔ MYTHS, LEGENDS AND FOLKLORE » S E L K I E S
Her tears are salt and water. Her hair smells of ocean spray. You may keep her for now, but it is the water she belongs to – though you have all that is hers hidden under lock and key. She’ll find her way home soon, she’s sure of it. Her brothers still visit the fishermen’s wives, and her sisters still call out to her form the shore in the dead of night. Yes… yes, she must find her way home soon.
the influence of the grimms was also felt in sweden…fairy tales flourished in the neo-romanticism of late nineteenth-early twentieth century sweden…the lazy and naughty nils, who is transformed to the size of tom thumb, must redeem himself by good deeds as he travels over sweden on the back of the wild goose…the great innovator in swedish children’s literature and in the genre of literary fairy tale was astrid lindgren. her most famous creation is, of course, pippi longstocking…lindgren revitalized the fairy tale genre.
post 612 of an infinity-part series
Modern Day Fairy Tales by Justin Torok
Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella
When I was small, they told me to put on my best dress and wait in the castle
And my standard-issue knight in shining armor would be along presently
To sweep my off my feet onto his pure white steed
And gallop off into the sunset
When I got a little older, they broke the news that beyond that sunset
There’s nothing but another castle
With a mortgage and 2.5 kids and a dog
And that horse is more than likely a used Camry
Fuck that, I said
And took off my best dress
And put on some pants and boots
And climbed down from the castle tower
In the forest I met a knight
His armor is dented and dull from battle
He has no horse, he walks with his world on his back
And I will walk with him on this road
Because he was heading east
about a reverse little mermaid, in which the prince’s sister has always dreamed of life under the sea, and then they are in a shipwreck, and as she hangs onto a piece of driftwood, she sees her brother rescued from drowning by a mermaid. Everybody thinks she’s mad, later, after she’s been rescued. But her brother did turn up alive and unharmed on the beach, and she knows what she saw: a girl, beautiful as the dawn, with a fish’s tail, keeping her brother safe above the waves. She grows sick with longing.
So the princess goes to visit the witch who lives in the woods, and she tells her that she can give her a mermaid’s tail and a mermaid’s breath—but she will always be human in her heart and in her soul, unless she can convince one of the merfolk to fall in love with her. For humans live short lives, and their immortal souls vanish to distant realms after death, while the merfolk live for hundreds of years, and when they die they remain in the sea that is their home.
The princess agrees, and the witch tells her she will make a potion that she must swallow when she wants to transform. But then she reminds her that she must be paid—and laughs at her when she offers gold. She tells her that she will have her voice, and slowly the princess agrees, so she cuts off her tongue and throws it into a boiling pot, adds a knot of snakes and a drop of her own black blood, and gives her the resulting potion to drink.
At midnight, she takes the potion out to the jetty, and as soon as it passes her lips, her legs are bound together, becoming a mermaid’s tail. She falls—kinda ungracefully—into the ocean, and it feels unbelievably natural to dive down, and she’s shocked by how well she can see, even in the deep water, even at midnight. And then she just sort of carelessly, cluelessly swims on, and she almost gets eaten by a shark, and then she’s trailing blood in the water so she almost gets eaten by another shark, and another, and she can’t find the merfolk city she’s always been taught was under the water, and it’s late and she’s exhausted and is running from all sorts of terrifying creatures who she’d never really thought about existing before, and she only escapes the sharks by dodging past a whirlpool, and then another whirlpool, close to the ocean bottom. She passes through a series of foaming whirlpools like a labyrinth, and then she sees a white house on the ocean bottom, in the middle of a strange forest of polypi. The polypi are half animal, half plant, reaching out and grasping at anything they can touch. The princess swims carefully through it, and she sees that there are things caught in the polypi’s arms: anchors, planks, wooden chests, the white skeletons of drowned men. A little mermaid. She makes it to the house, and recoils when she realizes that it’s also made of bleached human bones.