“Fairy tales are unique, not only as a form of literature, but as works of art which are fully comprehensible to the child, as no other form of art is. As with all great art, the fairy tales deepest meaning will be different for each person and different for the same person at various moments in his life. The child will extract different meaning from the same fairy tale, depending on his interests and needs of the moment. When given the chance, he will return to the same tale when he is ready to enlarge on old meanings, or replace them with new ones.”
Bruno Bettleheim p 12 -TheUses of enchantment
Fairy tales is one theme I like to return to every once in a while. In 2009 I read “From the blonde to the beast” by Marina Warner and made this piece:
I have the notion to revisit some books as well. Recently I decided to revisit the book: The Uses of Enchantment (The meaning and importance of fairy tales) by Bruno Bettelheim.
“Explaining to a child why a fairy tale is so captivating to him destroys, moreover, the story’s enchantment, which depends to a considerable degree on the child’s not quite knowing why he is delighted by it. And with the forfeiture of this power to enchant goes also a loss of the story’s potential for helping the child struggle on his own, and master all by himself the problem which has made the story meaningful to him in the first place. Adult interpretations, as correct as they may be, rob the child of the opportunity to feel that he, on his own, through repeated hearing and ruminating about the story, has coped successfully with a difficult situation. We grow, we find meaning in life, and security in ourselves by having understood and solved personal problems on our own, not by having them explained to us by others.”
From: The uses of enchantment
I have the habit of wanting to rework older pieces. In 2011 I made this piece:
I think that I am starting to let go of Separation anxiety and decided to unwrap her.
“They lived for a long time afterward, happy and in pleasure.” An uninformed view of the fairy tale sees in this type of ending an unrealistic wish fulfillment, missing completely the important message it conveys to the child. These tales tell him that by forming a true interpersonal relation, one escapes the separation anxiety which haunts him (and which sets the stage for many fairy tales, but is always resolved at the story’s ending). Furthermore, the story tells, this ending is not made possible, as the child wishes and believes, by holding on to his mother eternally. If we try to escape separation anxiety and death anxiety by desperately keeping our grasp on our parents, we will only be cruelly forced out, like Hansel and Gretel. “ Bruno Bettelheim – The uses of enchantment
Here he is talking about ‘Hansel and Gretel in relation to separation anxiety, so it would have been nice if the piece transformed into Gretel, but instead she is still in progress but I think that “Snow white has measles” are about to be born.
Unless I add another one and then call it: Hansel and Gretel has an allergic reaction.
Bettelheim goes on to say:
“Today many of our children are far more grievously bereaved – because they are deprived of the chance to know fairy stories at all. Most children now meet fairy tales only in the prettified and simplified versions which subdue their meaning and rob them of all deeper significance – versions such as those on films and TV shows, where fairy tales are turned into empty –minded entertainment.”
P24 The uses of enchantment
That is a very heavy statement, and it makes me wonder. If only fairy tales featured tractors – then I know my son would love to listen to it. He enjoys Jack and the Beanstalk and Hansel and Gretel, but I must admit it is the watered down versions found at the library.
My personal favorite is Goldilocks and the three bears. Maybe it is because according to some she is the ‘outsider’.
“This story lacks some of the most important features of true fairy tales at its end there is neither recovery nor consolation’ there is no resolution of conflict, and thus no happy ending. But it is a very meaningful tale because it deals symbolically with some of the most important growing-up problems of the child: the struggle with the oedipal predicaments’ the search for identity and sibling rivalry.”
P215 The uses of enchantment
“Parents will like their daughters to remain eternally their little girls, and the child would like to believe that it is possible to evade the struggle of growing up. That’s why the spontaneous reaction to Goldilocks is: “What a lovely story.” But it is also why this story does not help the child to gain emotional maturity.” p 224 The uses of enchantment.
I still have plenty of pages to read still and a lot to think about.
‘Fluit fluit my storie is uit”