What Everybody Ought to Know About Fairytales
Imagine a world without television, without internet, without shopping malls, without cinemas….Disaster? Oh no! It was just like that when the creation of fairytales took place in order to satisfy the entertainment needs of the grown-ups! As you can imagine, at first, all stories, which today are supposed to focus on children, were written primarily for grown-ups. It is obvious that in the old days people did not have as many opportunities for amusement as they have nowadays, while, they had apparently plenty of time to spare. Thus, they created a new form of activity for their leisure time. Fairytales!
Certain types of stories served several different purposes in ancient years. Their entertainment role was important and lasted through time (for example, Odyssey – by Homer), but it was not the sole. They, also, used to explain natural phenomena which were not explainable by early science, they depicted aspects of moral issues and customs of certain regions, they tried to regulate behavior with their didactics, they attempted to describe the dawn of civilization, and ultimately they sought out a way to justify why the world was the way it was. Tales were a vital form of expression and an essential practice in daily life. This is perhaps one of the reasons that researching fairytales is fascinating.
During the Edwardian/Victorian period, however, fairy tales started focusing mainly on kids. Hard times, tight economy, the need to face reality and the daily problems turned people to more realistic issues. Fables, fiction and sagas were not serious things to be bothered. Fantasy was not important, as it assumed to be childish.
In recent years fairy tales are once again the center of the interest of many grown-ups. In 1971 Anne Sexton, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, published her poetry anthology, Transformations, where famous tales are interpreted in a way not approved for the youngest audience. But also, child-like tales are adapted to attract wider audiences. Classical tales are rewritten to become movies and new films (such as Shrek, Ice Age etc.) catch the attention of grown-ups and gain fairly their place to the history of original fairytales.
It is noticeable that fairytales are worth to be taken more seriously into account. You can now plead an alibi for reading fairytales without allowing others accusing you for childishness. You should not be anxious whether a tale is meaningful for a child or not. Look at the history of its creation. Fairytales are aimed at a very wide audience and they deserve your respect.