Fairy Tales 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fables and Into the Woods

A fable always has a moral or lesson. A fairy tale is full of magic and usually contains magical numbers (3, 7) and a plot of good versus evil. The previous statements are generalizations for these two types of tales however each of the rules can and have been broken due to the author's wish. Just because fable's always have a moral or lesson does not mean they are not filled with magic and fantasy. The majority of fables have animals that are main characters and are extremely personified. Is this not a mystical element that has been added to the "fable reality"?

Into the woods takes the characters from multiple fairy tales and elaborates a story in a fantastical way. The general consensus would state that it has all of the necessary elements to be categorized as a fairy tale, if the definition is a simple as being mystical and fantastical. By including the fantastical characters from previous stories written while also following the traditional good vs. evil theme, yes into the woods could be categorized as a "fairy tale". If we all truly know what that is.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Fables: Legends in Exile" and the Morphological Fairy Tale

Is Fables a fairy tale? In the vein of many of the literary fairy tales that we have read in the last couple of weeks, I think Fables, considered as a whole, is both un-fairy-tale-like as well as fairy-tale-like.

In an un-fairy-tale-like manner, Fables is splashy (and not just because of all of the blood staining Rose Red’s apartment). At the same time, there is something particularly punchy, raunchy, and contemporary in its vernacular. Granted, the text with which we are dealing is a graphic novel, which often permits extra room for creative license, but the story itself often leans more toward a routine case for Gotham City Police Department than for a band of fairy tale myths in New York.

On the other hand, Fables – like many of the kunstmarchen – foregrounds self-conscious storytelling and allusions to the fairy tale canon. Flashbacks sequences are framed with fluid, opulent borders and function as “mirrors” to the past. They are like petite tales unto themselves. One of the more memorable self-conscious tales is Bigby’s “parlor room scene” in chapter five. Repetitively, Bigby prefaces his tale with: “Anyone who’s ever fancied himself a detective, openly or secretly, longs for the day he can do the famous parlor room scene. It’s the moment when I get to reveal who did what, how they did it – and most important – how I figured it all out.” In a way, all of the flashback sequences up until this point have been reflections (mirrors) of the past, whereas this one concerns Bigby writing history in the same self-conscious fairy tale way. Bigby is a fairy tale author; granted, his tale is sordid, but it reveals the nature of the entire Fables tale itself. It (unwittingly?) morphologically studies the Fables tale as a whole.

Regarding Fables’ explicit allusions to the fairy tale canon, are the characters themselves not the most notable quotations? Snow White, [Bigby] Wolf, Rose Red, Bluebeard, and Prince Charming (among others) all bring with them expectations that readers remember their tales. In other words, the presence of famous fairy tale characters demands that readers know the canon. Also, Fables is bookended by fairy tale conventions: The beginning commences with “Once upon a time […] in a fictional land called New York City,” and the ending closes with “The end” (and “for now,” at that). Even the tale’s haunting message, “No more happily ever afters,” invites further recollections of particularly indelible rhetoric from the fairy tale, notably: “And they lived happily ever after.” In fact, I would say “No more happily ever afters” functions as a tiny symbol that essentially and consequentially sums up the entire tale in a nutshell. That is, although the exiled fairy tale characters live dolorous lives, their sordid existence continues to be “unhappily ever after,” or so it seems, especially after the graphic novel’s punitive conclusion.

More simply, the most I can say about Fables is that it is as much of a fairy tale as the literary fairy tales are. As my fellow classmates, I am pretty certain you can vouch for the particular je-ne-sais-quoi with which my conclusion is inflected.

thoughts on Fables

I very much enjoyed the modern twist Fables gives the fairy tale genre. The tales keep the characters from fairy tales, but other than their names, they are extremely different. All the princesses are divorced, the wolf is a good guy, and they now live in a place where the fairy tale world is a distant memory.
I think that this is very reflective of our generation. We live in such cynical times that it makes perfect sense to create a story where fear and death are the main complements and fairy tales are nothing but naive children's dreams- a distant memory.
Interestingly, to me the book was a cross between "old-school mysteries" and modern day Law and Order style tv shows. It opened up with a introduction, the discovery of a crime, then an investigation follows but instead of a trial the resolve includes a "parlor scene" and a sort of happily every after.
I particularly found the "general amnesty" concept to be a nice twist. Characters who had violent past were not supposed to be judged on actions they claim happened hundreds of years ago. (Bluebeard specifically). It is like the creators are purposely trying to dismiss any preconceptions we as readers may have about fairy tales, yet at the same time, Snow White couldn't- therefore we cant either. All they can do is challenge our perception of fairy tales, but even though they will never completely change. Snow White will always be Snow White, the Wolf will always be the Wolf, etc.

Our Happily Ever After...i.e. last blog post

Despite ignoring conventional rules of writing, I'm going to start off with a personal side note. As interesting as "regular" fairy tales were/are to me, my excitement for this class was truly peaked when I went to the bookstore at the beginning of the semester and bought a comic book for this class. Chalk it up to the inner-nerd in me. Even though I was soon disappointed that we weren't going to read it until the last week of class, I now understand why; reading it at the beginning of the semester would have detracted from all of the implications and inside jokes within "Fables." It would be like having a friend introduce you to a TV show by having you watch the season finale. Sure you get the premise and it would keep your attention, but it wouldn't be the full experience.

Anyway...I'm going to take the alternative point of view that most in our discussion group have taken regarding whether or not "Fables" is a fairy tale. In other words, I'm going to argue that it is. While satire looms around the corner of every panel, the fairy tale characters that we all know are still a part of a magical realm despite being stuck in the mundane one in the first volume. And despite the lack of regularly occurring magic, transformations, and outlandish fantasy, there is still enough of it within the storyline to keep our attention (at least mine, but then again, throw a book that is primarily colorful pictures rather than words and you've got me). Isn't that what fairy tales are all about? Some combination of wonder and fantasy that is grounded just enough to make it comprehensible if not believable? I'm not saying that I took stories like "The Juniper Tree" as fact, but the story was structured to make the reader believe that the gruesome murder and resurrection of the child was orthodox enough that if the family could respond to this by finishing their meal, then we as the audience could accept this and share it with a future audience. I believe "Fables" falls along these same lines. Sure the characters may be a bit too magically restrained and sexually crass for our expectations, but this class has shown that most fairy tales have undergone serious revisions in order to accommodate for the audience of the given time period. Do I prefer all the fairy tale characters redesigned this way? Not really. Did it entertain me? I'd say it did. Would I consider this a fairy tale? Sure, why not?


These stories were very interesting takes on the fairy tale genre. By putting these classic characters in a modern setting and domain everything is changed. Obviously, we would expect interactions and reactions in this new and strange setting (as far as the characters are concerned) to be wholly different from what we might expect in classic fairy tale settings, and these stories do not disappoint.

Something that stood out to me were the obvious stabs at somewhat old and outdated ideals. For instance, when Snow White and Prince Charming get divorced, the entire notion of happily ever after is shattered. Likely the fact that divorce is such a prevalent end to marriage in this modern day and age played a part in influencing this particular aspect of the story. In this sense, Fables kind of makes the statement that these might be the same characters, but this is not the same old story we've read time and time again.

There were also other very interesting aspects, like the reformed Big Bad Wolf. Again, this is like a stab at classic fairy tale ideals, but in a more positive way. It shows the healing power of society and promotes the idea that people (or wolves) can become good. Additionally, it seems Willingham tries to eliminate the stigma that is associated with people who were once guilty of misdeeds by allowing the wolf to transform into a human. In that sense, his outside change is a physical manifestation of his inside change and shows that the transformation is legitimate.

All in all, I enjoyed the transplantation of these famous and aged characters in a modern setting. It provided for some interesting story lines.

Fairy tale characters - not necessarily fairy tales

Both "Into the Woods" and "Fables" use stock characters that their audience will already know. They will already know the tropes, the peculiarities, the details of their story -- which is key for picking up on the inside jokes. That aspect of the stories, while very enjoyable, is something that is not seen in the straightforward plots of fairy tales. There are no sequels, no funny jokes outside of the satire we've seen in the last couple weeks.

I would argue that "Into the Woods" is a fairy tale in that there is the fantastical and the unhumanistic foe. There is metamorphosis with the witch, characters defying death, some magic, lots of quests, and lots and lots of advice/morals (although then those pieces of advice are spun around). There are lots of unexpected plot twists, which is neither fairy tale-like or un-fairy tale-like. There is quite a bit of character development for some of the characters, which is unusual for fairy tales, but overall I would say the story could be called a contemporary fairy tale, or a twist on the fairy tale (but still in the fairy tale genre).

"Fables," though, wasn't a fairy tale, in my opinion. It was a great murder-mystery, but there is nothing super fantastical. It's kind of like "Enchanted," only without the helpful animals. Fairy tale characters, sure, but not much of a fairy tale. It's set in a city, the characters are more or less normalized, the murder isn't even a murder. There's no quest, no foe. Just lots of people who don't like each other and have some baggage/relationship/family issues. The story doesn't even end with the sexy wolf getting the maiden. She pretty openly rejects him. That is definitely not in the category of popular ways to end a fairy tale.

"Fables" and "Into the Woods"

I think both works are fairy tales in their own right. Both “Into the Woods” and “Fables” use the method of combining numerous well known fairy tales and using these characters to assist and develop the plot of a totally new story. “Into the Woods” is fairly plausible when compared to the usual fairy tale, but “Fables” may be a little more extreme and strange.

Unlike the traditional fairy tales that we have read, these stories are almost satires of the tales. They do aim to entertain the audience, but in different ways. These works probably more closely resemble what the original oral fairy tales would have been like, the tales that were told for the salon audience as opposed to children. “Fables” is definitely aimed at a more mature, adult audience with its language and sexual jokes and comics. I think it’s funny that the fairy tale characters have all been exiled, and thus they have to hide from humans and conceal their true identities in one of the busiest cities in the country. On the other hand, “Into the Woods” seems to be more child-friendly, even if the plot gets a little complicated as a result of all the stories being woven together and intertwined. In terms of an unidentified setting, “Fables” tells the reader at the very beginning of the book that it is set in New York City. From what I can remember, “Into the Woods” does not explicitly state its setting, but we are obviously in the woods or forest. "Into the Woods" includes tales about magical spells, talking animal helpers, evil stepmothers, and witches.

“Into the Woods” keeps the stories of “Cinderella”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and “Rapunzel”. “Fables” keeps elements of “Beauty and the Beast”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Snow White and Rose Red”, “Bluebeard”. Then, it also contains characters from stories like “Little Boy Blue”, “The Three Little Pigs”, and the song “Molly Malone”, so “Fables” makes other references to popular culture of the time. “Fables” is written in a modern style that is easy to read and follow. “Into the Woods” does not have an overtly modern tone, but it’ focus seemed to be more on the songs and musical aspect of the story. "Fables" could be considered a fairy tale simply because it includes so many traditional fairy tale characters. However, the actual tale seems to be more of a modern action or mystery story than a fairy tale. Ultimately, “Into the Woods” seems to maintain more aspects of the traditional fairy tale than “Fables”, but both are entertaining to their respective audiences in a unique way.

Fairy Tale or CSI?

Fables: Legends in Exile is a compulsively readable contemporary reworking of the traditional fairy tales. Incorporating characters from such classics as Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Beauty and the Beast, this story, which is rendered in comic book form, takes place in modern-day New York City.

In many ways, the fairy tale has been updated to reflect a more contemporary milieu. Characters are decidedly modern: they use profane language, make raunchy jokes, and essentially look and behave like normal humans, dressing in modern garb and using public transportation. Moreover, the female characters have evolved from passive, demure creatures to autonomous and assertive individuals. Many of the story’s female characters are divorcees, and many, like Snow White, occupy positions of power in society. Unlike the traditional fairy tale, a rigid patriarchal framework does not underlie Fables, mirroring the more progressive conception of women in today’s world.

Another way in which Fables deviates from, say, a traditional Grimm Brothers tale is through its explicit sexual content. Many of the scenes are explicitly erotic, and characters frequently make bawdy jokes and references. For example, Prince Charming emerges as a shameless womanizer who sleeps with a steakhouse waitress simply to nab money off her. In this way, Fables departs from the decidedly de-sexualized 19th century fairy tale and returns to the outright crudeness we see in older tales such as “The Story of Grandmother.”

One of the most marked digressions from the fairy tale tradition is the glaring lack of magic. In order to blend into humanity—or, rather, the “mundane” masses—the characters refrain from the use of magic. Indeed, in order to solve the crime, the Wolf relies solely on his wits, employing crime scene investigation techniques to unravel the mystery. No “magical helper” swoops in to elucidate the truth and uncover the murderer.

Aside from the fact that it borrows fairy tale characters, Fables is more evocative of an episode of CSI than an actual fairy tale. Willingham has revised the fairy tale almost beyond recognition, in my opinion. Really, the only way I could understand Fables as a “fairy tale” is the fact that it adheres to Vladimir Propp’s Five Functions of a fairy tale—there is a lack of something (Red Rose is missing); a quest (the Wolf sets out to solve the mystery); presence of helpers (Snow White jumps in to help) and opponents (Bluebeard proves uncooperative); tests (trying to unravel the case); and finally, a reward (the mystery of Red Rose’s disappearance is deduced). What do you think? Are they any other ways in which Fables is distinctly paralleling the fairy tale tradition?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Fairy Tale of Reality

Wilhelm Wackenroder’s “A Wondrous Oriental Fairy Tale of a Naked Saint” is considered to be in a tale representing stories that have instituted elements of imagination and mysticism. It has been said that literature has been reflecting social attitudes of the authors' environment's for years, and Wackenroder's is no exception. The protagonist of this tale is a misunderstood genius who rejects the pettiness of everyday life. Only music can save him, and he abandons earth for a more divine artistic life.

Romance is the key element in this tale that drives the character's action to reach the ultimate state of bliss and peace thereafter. By embarking on a journey of spiritual enlightenment the main character finds himself in a better place than he began. Like all fairy tales, the story begins with a lack of something, and by beginning the search and finding peace, it falls under the fairy tale category. The ultimate gain after a life of suffering is "happily ever after", and that is the exact thing that was found.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I AM truth

After scanning the table of contents for a story to read, "The Story of the Fairy Tale" caught my attention. I was sure it was going to be a long history, fictional of course of the genre. To my surprise the tale was 2 pages long! However, within those 2 pages the author told a power story I think.
The tale begins with the disappearance of Truth. Five wise men set out to find Truth. They all come back with different answers: Truth= Science, Truth=Theology, Truth=Love, Truth= Gold, and finally Truth=Wine. The men argue and get into a fist fight. Interestingly the narrator makes sure it is know that Theology was the most badly injured. Then a child steps in, and says she found Truth and they all follow her to a meadow. There the whole town see a beautiful creature who proclaims she is Truth, and everyone immediately identifies her as a Fairy Tale. The Five men leave the meadow, but everyone, child and women especially, stay with the fairy tale.
I think that the author is offering us the fairy tale as Truth because truths can be hidden a narrative. In a way, the fairy tale is more truth than the five wise men's individual claims because a fairy tale can incorporate all those things. They are comforting, entertaining and educational. They are the epitome of everything anyone would want because all truths can exist in them without contradiction. Thus, this story itself is not a fairy tale, but it is meant to make us appreciate the concept so that we can freely enjoy any fairy tale.

Forgotten Heros of the Fairy Tales

Oh, to be a prince! Or a knight! Or a boy without fear! But what if luck casts you as a bit player in the larger drama? Where are your accolades? Your adoring public?

Franz Hessel's The Seventh Dwarf tells the story of Snow White but from a rather different perspective. A smaller one if you will -- horrible pun intended. The narrator is the seventh dwarf (one who remains unnamed -- this isn't Disney, after all) and he takes credit for saving Snow White's life time after time.

Why, it was he who pulled the poisoned comb from her hair. It was he who loosened her corset. And when she ate the bewitched apple, it was he who startled the coffin bearers into dropping the glass coffin and dislodging the apple from Snow White's throat.

It is a fairy tale because it still deals with the main themes of Snow White. We have magic and witches and spells. Did I mention we have dwarfs? But it also is a fairy tale because of the story-telling narrator. The reader is being directly addressed. You are sitting by the fireside listening to this dwarf tell his tale.

He ends the story by saying, "She probably think about the seven dwarfs every now and then, especially when the children sing about the seven dwarfs, who live beyond the mountains. But I'm sure that she las long since forgotten me, the last one, the seventh." Notice that the dwarfs described as being "beyond the mountains." They are not in the normal realm of reality. The "She" here is Snow White but it could also refer to history -- the dwarf's story long forgotten for some falsehoods about a prince riding to the rescue. What a shame!

-Matt P.

"Of Feminine Subtlety"

Gesta Romanorum's story is quite funny, if not a bit unpleasant toward women. That is one of the themes (women are evil) that makes his story "Of Feminine Subtlety" (I'll get to the title in a moment) have fairy tale qualities. A basic outline of the fairy tale-ness:

*A youngest son is given
*three magical gifts by his father (a king) that will help him achieve happiness outside the realm of material goods (the kingdom and personal possessions go to his brothers).
*The mother is the keeper of the items, but does not do a good job of making sure the son can handle them.
*He is warned "to beware the artifices of women" so he does not lose his magical possessions.
*He is well loved but too trusting, so he loses his gifts to a
*wily, cunning, plotting, beautiful woman (also called a "concubine"), who not only figures out how to get them from him, but she steals them away and lies to him about it later AND then leaves him in the desert to die.
*Although he is forsaken and upset, the prince doesn't forget to "fortify himself with the sign of the cross."
*He then goes on a journey through
*a magical space, where nature gives him the powers to hurt and heal, restoring him to health. He also learns some lessons about trust in this time.
*He uses his powers to nurse a king back to health and cheat his former love into a painful illness. But not before getting her to confess and give him all of his talismans back. Then "she was tortured with agony." This line is rather blunt and without feeling, as many of the evil women's ends have been.
*The prince is welcomed back with open arms -- "the whole kingdom rejoiced at his return."
*"Then he recounted how God had saved him from various dangers, and after living many years, he ended his days in peace."

Also, structurally, this story had much of the feel of oral tales. While the characters had names (unusual for a fairy tale), the writing was sparse and without elaborate (or any) details. The thing that catches me about this story is the title - "Of Feminine Subtlety." The moral of the story is don't let a woman trick you out of your magic powers, and don't get carried away by a woman's beauty. The story is pointing out ways women subtlety (I guess - how subtle she is is up for debate) trick men out of their powers (whatever they may be) and aims to help men realize this. The story has no real focus on happiness being found in hard work or trusting God (although those are both in there); it is simply a complaint about women and the tricky things they do to hurt men. Women are often not the best of characters in fairy tales, as we've talked about, especially when they are cunning or smart. They are never tricky for good - only for bad.

The Enchanted Castle

The Enchanted Castle is a classic tale of forbidden love caused by magic and mysticism. The story is about a prince who forgets his quest for knowledge when he encounters a mysterious mute veiled woman in an enchanted castle. The mute veiled woman is an interesting addition to the fairy tale. In most fairy tales, the women are judged by their looks, or in some remote cases their wit and personality. However, in this case, the man is not able to neither see nor talk to the woman even after they share a bed- a very intimate act. Nonetheless, the man is intrigued and before he can determine whether he wishes to pursue this woman he must- can you guess it? See her face to see if she is pretty enough to merit his affections. However, his selfishness and superficial tendencies backfire when he realizes after viewing the queens face (and subsequently falling in love) that she is under a curse. This curse is an example of the magical aspect in this typical of a fairy tale. In addition, there is also a connection with nature. When the prince was unable to muster the will to kill the hare (or "nature") he was rewarded. The hare led him to the castle where he would meet his true love. Therefore his interaction with and kindness towards nature catalyzed his marriage.

Also, there is a "fairy godfather" type character in the figure. The hobbit helped the prince discover the true reason behind his unusual drowsiness, as to save the innocent innkeeper. In addition, the hobbit saved the tokens left behind by the queen which ultimately caused the prince to win the jousting match and get the queen as his prize. This helper character is also characteristic of classic fairy tales. The objectification of women as prizes to be won is another quality of some fairy tales. In most fairy tales women are the object, they are to be wooed and married off. Women who are not married are unaccepted in society. Therefore the fact that the queen is a prize to be won as well as a maiden waiting to be saved, speaks to the vulnerability and overall helplessness of most women in fairy tales- especially so if the women are not beautiful.

Finally the ever present theme of love conquers all. The idea that love has the power to overcome any obstacle including magic and evil curses. When the prince won the jousting match he was able to meet his true "love" (a woman he had only met twice before) and marry her.

"The Fairy Tale About Technology" has to be a fairy tale, right?

"The Fairy Tale About Technology," written by Alfred Doblin in 1935, is the story of a Jewish family that is broken apart due to the ravages of World War I. Living in Ukraine before WWI, this family (like so many other fellow Jewish families in the area) faced the threats of others as a result of fear-mongering and religious prosecution. Eventually all the hatred towards the Jewish people boiled over, leading to a massacre of all Jewish men, women, and children. The father of the aforementioned Jewish family was able to violently protect is family, but decided to flee the first chance they got rather than wait for more attacks. However, one of the eldest sons was lost during the escape and the family presumed him to be dead. Years and years went on. The mother died. The children grew up. The father got old. For his seventieth birthday, the father received a gramophone and a radio because of his love for music. One day, the father was certain he heard his long lost son's voice over the radio. The rest of the family did not hear the song, but if the father was sure, then they were sure too. After a bit of resourceful investigation, the father finally made contact with his long lost son.

Despite the fact that this story was written about 75 years ago, this story should be considered a modern fairy tale. It has some of the fairy tale staples: a "once upon a time," a broken home life, and a recognition that good things happen to those that believe in God. On the other hand, it lacks quite a few of the things we commonly associate with fairy tales: no transformations, talking animals, or bippity boppity boo type magic. As I've said though, this still qualifies as a fairy despite all of the typical fairy tale mysticism being stripped away. This story reminds me a lot of "The Juniper Tree" really. Although it does not have an evil stepmother of sorts, the son's "resurrection" comes to the great relief of the father, freeing him from the guilt the mother placed on him by saying "You set an example for him. He probably took an ax or a knife. A Jew should hide." Lastly, the technology in the form of a radio is the modern magic bestowed upon a humble and faithful man, allowing his son to be returned to him.

The Green Serpent

Well, I was going to give a brief synopsis of this story, but it's very long and extremely convoluted, so I'll get right to the meat and taters.

There is little about this story that doesn't make it a fairy tale. The length of the story, the intricacy/complexity of the storyline, and little things like the uses of real places (Paris, for instance) that point to a literary genre other than fairy tale. However, the bulk of the story is devoted to magic, morals, transformations, redemption, etc., which are all fairly characteristic of fairy tales.

First off, there are actual transformations of various characters from human to beast, but the main character, Laidronette, does not undergo so explicit a change. She does go from the ugliest person on the planet to very pretty, but this is after she learns to value her intellect more and wants to atone for her past misdeed of indulging her curiosity. Thus, she ends up being saved.

The magic is also pretty obvious, in that it's jam-packed into every sentence in the story. From the beginning there are fairies, talking animals, tiny pagods made of of jewels and such, magic teleportation, and many others.

One thing that I found interesting is that this story seemed to take aspects from many types of stories we have read, as well as some others. The initial scenes where the twin princesses are born and 12 fairies are to bestow gifts is reminiscent of Snow White tales. When Laidronette is given the task of filling a pitcher with a whole in it, I couldn't help but think back to Greek myths and punishments in Tartarus. And when the queen is told to spin spider wed though she does not know how to spin, I think back to The Three Spinners. It was as if the author took bits and pieces of other fairy tale traditions and wove (no pun intended) them into one massive tale.

I think this story could have worked better as a traditional, short, to the point fair tale than the long story it is. Since storytelling was introduced, the author had to apply logic to many situations that we would normally just take for granted and not need explained, but as I noticed, the logic does not quite hold up. That's a big problem with filling in all the nooks and crannies that are missed in a shorter fairy tale: you just shouldn't apply logic to a clearly fantastical story.

"The Fairy Tale about Common Sense"

I read “The Fairy Tale About Common Sense”, by Erich Kastner. This story is obviously meant to entertain its reader and is a commentary on politics and society of the time. The tale does not seem to be a fairy tale at all, except for the fact that the entire story was fictional, which the author notes at the end of the story. It was written in 1948, just three years after the end of World War II; and thus, many references to war are made. Essentially, the story is about a “nice old gentlemen”, really a crooked politician, “who had the nasty habit of thinking up sensible things to do every now and then” (622). Immediately, the reader can tell that this story is a satire. The writer proceeds to explain how this rich man would “torture” experts with his sensible suggestions and diminish the significance of their expertise. Both the rich and poor are mentioned in this first paragraph. Then, the man gives a speech on how to make peace at a conference filled with many influential men from all over the world. He asks that they listen to what he’s about to say, “not for my sake, but in the interest of common sense” (623). He then gives his pitch, which is filled with references to social structure and giving equal wealth to each member of a community.

My favorite lines are spoken after the gentleman has given his speech, and he says, “I envy you, for even though I don’t believe that material things embody the highest earthly goods, I have enough common sense to realize that peace among peoples depends first on the material satisfaction of human beings. If I’ve just said that I envy you, then I’ve lied. Actually, I’m happy” (623). Unlike the typical crooked politician, this man blatantly lies and then admits that he lied. To top it off, he then takes out a cigar and begins to smoke it while discussing his plan with the statesmen, who believe he is joking with them. When the statesmen call him crazy and begin laughing uncontrollably, the gentleman admits that the plan requires a lot of money. He does not understand what they think is so funny, so he asks, “If a long war costs one hundred thousand billion dollars [WWII], why shouldn’t a long peace be worth exactly the same?” (624). More laugher erupts, and one man tells him, “War is something entirely different!” (624).

This whole story was fascinating to read because it honestly does not contain any aspects of a fairy tale. The story does begin with “Once upon a time…” and we know that the tale and its characters are fictional. However, there are no references to magic; there is no physical transformation of the protagonist; there are no talking animals; there are no fairy godmothers or witches. The story is purely a commentary about politics, war, and even the notion of “common sense”. I am not fully versed on the political problems after WWII, so I’m sure there are deeper meanings that can be drawn from this story. Feel free to comment if you know!

Wilde's "The Nightingale and the Rose"

I was profoundly moved by Oscar Wilde’s “The Nightingale and the Rose.” The tale is at once haunting and exquisite: in a moonlit garden, a nightingale impales herself on the thorn of a rose, willingly enduring a slow and torturous death in the name of love. In my opinion, the tale serves as a poetic tribute to the power of love, art, and music.

In the tale, Wilde dramatizes the tension between passion and reason. On the one end, we have the Nightingale, who acts a prototype of love. From the very beginning, we understand that there is something special about this Nightingale, that she is more than any mere bird. Profoundly wise and sage-like, she possesses a deep appreciation for human love and will do anything she can to ensure its protection. The Nightingale’s selflessness immediately manifests itself in her attempt to help the lovesick student find a red rose. To procure a rose for the boy, the Nightingale must sing all night long and then impale herself on the rose’s thorn. She heroically agrees to carry out the morbid ritual, declaring, “Love is better than Life, and what is the heart of a bird compared to the heart of a man?” (Wilde 263). Through such valiant, unselfish words, the bird emerges as something of a tragic martyr, willing to endure death in the name of love.

In the end, however, reason reigns over passion, as suggested by the student’s devolution from hopefully romantic to cynical academic parallels. At the beginning of the tale, the student is wistful and starry-eyed, his heart filled with the innocent, clumsy love of an adolescent. Sitting in a moonlit garden, the student ruefully muses aloud, “Ah, on what little things does happiness depend! I have read all that the wise men have written, and all the secrets of philosophy are mine, yet for want of a red rose is my life made wretched” (Wilde 261). Here, he boldly renounces his schooling—deeming rational thought the meaningless jargon of academics and “wise men”—and asserts his allegiance with the simple beauty of the “red rose,” which stands for true, pure love. Soon, however, the force of reason proves too strong for the student to resist. By the tale’s conclusion, the boy, disillusioned by his lover’s rejection of him, carelessly discards the Nightingale’s red rose in the street. With an air of cynical defeat, he retreats into a solitary existence of “dusty” books and education, sighing that love is “quite unpractical, and, in this age to be practical is everything” (265).

By flinging the Nightingale’s red rose into the street, the Student resigns from his duty as a disciple of love and returns to the ranks of scientists and philosophers. As readers, we are to see the boy as naïve, frustrating, and ultimately foolish. Wilde, it seems, is commenting on mankind’s futile quest for knowledge. In man’s attempt to p ursue science and “truth,” the more important things in life, such as love, are carelessly tossed aside. This phenomenon, whereby love becomes engulfed by reason, is a tragic event, as tragic as the image of the broken Nightingale, lying dead in the grass with the last notes of her haunting song reverberating in the night.

I searched the web for a bit of further insight into the tale. Many sources mentioned that Wilde was a key figure in the aesthetic movement, which exalted the doctrine of “art for art’s sake”—creating art for its intrinsic value, divorced from any external moral function. Clearly, Wilde injected many of these ideals into this particular tale. For example, on page 256, the boy’s statement that the Nightingale’s notes “do not mean anything, or do any practical good” stands in direct contradiction to the principles of aestheticism (Wilde 265). Failing to recognize any discernable meaning in the song, the Student thinks it must be worthless and amateur. His teachings have conditioned him to vigorously analyze works of art, reducing something that was one whole and beautiful into scientific, sterile pieces.

However, the beauty of the Nightingale’s song is not that it has meaning, but rather that it abounds with passion and feeling. The song possesses an almost transformative quality; it causes a fragrant rose to unfurl in the middle of the moonlight-infused garden. The tragic notes rise and fall in the cold morning air like the incantation of a spell, holding the world breathless, if only for a moment. As the last of her blood begins to seep out, the Nightingale delivers one final, passionate burst of music, and suddenly the world stops, enchanted—the moon, even, “forgets the dawn, and lingers on in the sky” (264). Through this lovely language, Wilde nods to art’s inherent power. Although the science-minded boy fails to grasp the beauty of the song, the song elicits a powerful, noticeable response in nature, a realm that has not been tainted by science or reasoning. Thus, Wilde's "The Nightingale and the Rose," which is saturated with allusions to the aesthetic movement, dramatizes the tension between reason and passion in society and adopts the stance that passion, although grossly undermined by modern society, is more important.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"The Happy Prince", Oscar Wilde, and Christian values

Although I have now only read two literary fairy tales by Oscar Wilde – the first being this week’s required reading of “The Selfish Giant” and the second being the subject of this blog posting, “The Happy Prince” – the theme of selflessness seems to be a privileged one. In “The Selfish Giant,” a selfish giant (sorry to be repetitive) finds children playing in his garden and banishes them with a giant wall. The winter comes and freezes everything, but it is not until the children sneak in through a little hole in the wall that the giant realizes that the winter has been unnaturally prolonged (supposedly as a reflection of his icy heart). The giant decides to be nice to the children and to let them play there always, even being so nice as to befriend a mysterious little boy in the corner of his property. The giant is saddened when the little boy never returns (punishment for the giant’s heretofore icy heart?), but then one day, the boy returns bloodied. He turns out to be an allegorical representation of Jesus, and he takes the giant to the afterlife as a token of appreciation.

In “The Happy Prince,” the golden statue of a prince watches over a city and realizes that the conditions are not as perfect as he thought they were when he was alive. He sees poverty and anguish and opts selflessly to donate his golden hide, the ruby jewel on his hilt, and his sapphire eyes to those people in the city that need them. As a statue he cannot move, so he befriends a swallow who is late for his seasonal migration to Egypt. Together, the swallow and the statue work anonymously to help the impoverished people of the city until, eventually, they have nothing left to give. For having lingered, the swallow dies, and for having nothing opulent left, the city melts the statue to construct a new one. At the end, God tells his angels to bring him the two most precious things in the city, and he is brought the statue’s remaining lead heart and the dead bird.

The interesting thing about these tales is that not only do they moralize, but they do so through a distinctly Christian lens. The tales of the Brothers Grimm are predicated consistently on a general moral (in the sense of right and wrong), and the protagonist must learn his/her lesson for having not obeyed it. In these two tales, Oscar Wilde seems to propagate protagonists whose earthly redemption is rewarded with spiritual redemption in heaven. (Note: Because these are the only two fairy tales by Oscar Wilde I have read, I cannot assert a definitive solution that represents his entire œuvre. “The Happy Prince” first appeared in 1888, so perhaps there are contextual implications (Tatar 246).)

As a result, the Christian tenet of “Love thy neighbor” becomes exacted. Especially in the case of “The Happy Prince,” Wilde intends to set up identification between readers and the selfless statue and swallow and to vilify the Mayor’s and Town Councillors’ vanity and selfishness. The Art Professor at the University is an equally unlikeable character, as he agrees with the Mayor and Town Councillors that the statue must go, since “as he is no longer beautiful he is no longer useful” (260). At the bottom of the page, Tatar makes the note that Oscar Wilde famously said, “All art is quite useless” (260). Nevertheless, an inert, artistically opulent statue has just dedicated all of his riches to the poor.

It is interesting to note that the Other to whom good deeds are done in these Oscar Wilde fairy tales is persistently a youth. In “The Selfish Giant,” the giant’s deeds are done for the sake of children; in “The Happy Prince,” the golden statue and kind swallow help a sick little boy (and his mother), a young man, and a little match-girl, in order. Is this just another story proclaiming moralistically the beauty of the inner self, or does the statue’s subservience to youth indicate the significance of preserving youth, who is often synonymous with beauty?


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dispension of disbelief

The stories examined this week serve the purpose of representing the extraordinary events of life as we know it. The stories begin as an entrance and/or opening of describing every day reality, relationships and occurrences available for interpretation by the everyday human being who experiences day to day interactions with other human beings. The mystical element of the stories enters with a drastic occurrence of magic and mysticism that could stand for the unknown many of us try to dismiss in our ordinary lives as simple "occurrences". Though this could be a stretch, the depth and longevity of these stories shows they are not "ordinary" fairy tales serving to teach us a moral at the end of the tale, but a possible representation of how unpredictable and mysterious and/or unpredictable life can be. The sudden poof of magic or unexplicable occurrences described to the audience cause us to search for a deeper meaning which may in turn lead us to a more fulfilling interpretation of our lives, leading us to challenge the ordinary ideals that have been ingrained in us since birth.

Love conquers all

Sounds pretty cliche right? Not in the "Wondrous Oriental Tale of the Naked Saint" its not. Love really does conquer all- even an incessant seemingly uncontrollable ticking in your mind. In this literary fairy tale there are a few specific elements that are classic fairy tale. First is the interaction with nature. The nature of the setting is very descriptive and the author pays attention to the specifics of the cave and the surrounding forrest. In fact, the saint has such an intense interaction with nature that nature and its "song of love" cures his ailment. Another aspect is the mystical and unknown setting of the Orient. It is not specific to a certain place or time period. This lack of specificity of this location ads to the universality of the story and the underlying messages and themes of the tale. The last fairy tale characteristic is the one the only L-O-V-E. Of coarse in this fairy tale it is a couple of star crossed lovers who cause the man with the incessant ticking of time to forget his problem and realize that the in life one should focus on finding happiness, preferably with another person, than worry about the passage of time.

The magic in this story is not about a fairy god mother or magic wands- it is about the amazing and awesome power of nature. It was natures song of love, not a supernatural force, which caused the saint forget his focus on the passage of time and the ticking of his internal clock. The saint is released from his human prison when he witnesses love. I found this aspect very interesting. Humans have an internal clock- we obviously dont live forever. the saint was trapped in a human form with this ever present lingering concern for the inevitability of death. However he saw love and was able to release himself from being human and the accompaning worries of mortality. This story highlights the power of love and magic of nature to defeat the omnipresent fear of death in humans and return a saint to the heavans. Thats some pretty powerful stuff if you ask me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Do you believe in magic?

The question of the role of magic was one that was especially alluring to me. As we talked about in class, the first part of Wieland's "Philosopher's Stone" seems to be making fun of those who believe that alchemical magic exists; yet, the second half of the story is entirely magical. I make sense of this because I think that even Enlightenment guys like Wieland can believe in metaphorical transformations and believe that those who believe in this voodoo, abra cadabra magic are discrediting the very real "magic" that can occur inside someone. That type of remarkable change, seemingly magical, is discredited by those who believe they hold the powers for that change or that the ability to change is based off of psychic abilities.

The ability for a man like King Mark to change is seemingly miraculous - something that would not have come about if not for some magical influence. But I think this "magic," Wieland is trying to show, is spiritual, not a man-held gift. He believes in the ability for people to change and in figurative "donkey" stages (a rock bottom of sorts) that some men might have to go through to realize their satisfaction does not lie in gold, and while that is "magical," he does not want that spiritual, superhuman magic to get confused with the phoney "magic" of man.

I also want to make a comment about something that was brought up in class today and which I was thinking about earlier in the week because a book I'm reading outside of class mentions a lot of what we've talked about this semester. If you haven't read Dan Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol, I'd highly recommend it. I started it Monday and I only have about 70 pages to go. It's all about the Freemasons and the Ancient Mysteries and Eqypt and the search for the Philosopher's Stone (that's what the lost symbol is). It's like Wieman's tale but reads more like JK Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." Just as good as The Davinci Code, for sure.

The longest "fairy tales" ever, come on

Well, I think the use of story-telling for these particular tales had two important effects. The first one was, of course, that these stories were excruciatingly long and full of somewhat inane and impertinent information. The second effect was that of creating a level of imagery that we have not encountered with the previous fairy tales. There was so much detail that little had to be left to the imagination, whereas the other stories we read were fairly to the point and just threw in the important stuff with no time for logical flow, detailed imagery or in-depth story-telling. But what makes these stories classifiable as fairy tales is that they feature some of the time-tested fairy tale methods, including fantastical events and the transformation of humans into animals.

For instance, the first few pages of The Philosopher's Stone seems like a plausible story that is even set in England and all of the characters have name and realistic back stories. Then all of a sudden the king becomes a donkey and later receives the King Midas of lilies. It almost seems like a non-sequitur. However, without those fantastical elements the story is just a nice anecdote or a fun read (despite the length).

These stories go in an entirely different direction than previous stories and the only factor that seems to draw them back into the realm of fairy tales is that magical, fantastical turn of events.

Art History in Action

As an art history major, I tend to examine everything through an art historical lens. Therefore I think it may be interesting to look at The Philosopher's Stone as a piece of art from the Romantic era. Firstly, the Romantics considered nature to be extremely spiritual. Many pieces of art from the time period layer religious symbolism into the work. It is clear from what we discussed in class today that nature is a big theme in this tale: king turns into a goat, goes out into the wild, eventually finds peace (queen follows). It is not just nature however. The king's journey can be seen as ecclesiastic. The journey allows him to go out and experience nature from an animals point of view, and this leads him to realize he lead a sinful life and he has divinely been given a second chance. The story's moral is clearly understood.

Something else that I think can be applied is the concept of "Gesamtkunstwerk" which basically means art as an experience. I think that the author chooses to densely pack the narrative with many minor narratives for this very reason, to create an intense experience for the reader which they could not otherwise have. I realize this may be a stretch but I think that the king's journey thus becomes the reader's journey and the author becomes the our fairy/guardian angel. The king and queen are given a choice at the end, and so are the readers, do you read this story and brush it off as entertainment, or do you recognize its true value and apply it to your own life?

"The Philosopher's Stone" in Relation to "The Romance of Tristan and Iseult"

Christoph Martin Wieland’s “The Philosopher’s Stone” is interesting because it seems to believe it belongs to a history of storytelling. Its self-reflexivity in storytelling is apparent, but I want to focus on its ostensible kinship with The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, a medieval narrative that popularly espouses the prototype for an “adultery myth” that has persisted through the ages in texts such as Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary. By Wieland indicating that the young King Mark of “The Philosopher’s Stone” belongs to the heritage of mythmaking that is The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, I wonder what the implications are. It is true that Wieland chooses young King Mark to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, King Mark of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult. However, as those familiar with the traditional tale know, King Mark is a veritably supporting character to whom the injustice of Tristan’s and Iseult’s love affair is done (NOTE: Notice the passive verb because it will be important later).

Perhaps the key lies in the line: “The young King Mark was very much like his grandfather. He was arrogant without ambition, sensuous without taste, and greedy without knowing how to be economical” (233). That is, perhaps Wieland is trying to say that history repeats itself. By calling on the medieval narrative of magic potions and star-crossed lovers, Wieland associates his modern tale with a classic tale of similar faults: arrogance, tasteless sensuality, and greed. This is a curious assertion, though, because the King Mark I remember from The Romance of Tristan and Iseult was a horribly passive character easily duped by his vicious court.

Ah, ha! That is just it! It must be the fact that King Mark is so easily duped, just like readers see young King Mark is in “The Philosopher’s Stone.” Therefore, credulousness is the problem that runs through both narratives. In the age of Enlightenment in which Wieland lives, excessive gullibility is impossible. Faith is impossible. Trust is impossible. … But knowledge is possible.

But even the protagonists of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult know they want each other, but they do not really know why. To Wieland, this would be another fault of the tale. The Romance of Tristan and Iseult emphasizes passion, emotion, instinct… all of which are characteristics insupportable in Wieland’s times. As I have stated, history repeats itself in “The Philosopher’s Stone,” which gets its protagonist into trouble because instinct is wrong.

In Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” he states that history is filled with the present. That is, in telling history from the present time, the concerns of the present often find a way into a historical tale through particular parallels. Using Benjamin’s logic, the concerns of Wieland’s time – that credulousness is unacceptable and truth, logic, and reason are essential – parallels and shapes the implication of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, which is equally filled with credulousness and unconscious action. And, again, history repeats itself. More specifically, the tale repeats itself. In this way, “The Philosopher’s Stone” is inevitably a tale repeating tales.

Thoughts? Leave ‘em in the comments!

The Power of Love

I'd rather imagine this is the two lovers' song

The first thing one notices when reading "A Wondrous Oriental Tale of a Naked Saint" is that the setting is not some fairy tale land but rather the "Orient" -- a place that held much of the same charms for Westerners at the time as Cinderella's kingdom would have. Both places have the potential for magic and mysticism, due to things (and cultures) that were misunderstood or not known.

Oh and did I mention that being naked is what saints do in this foreign land? As Wackenroder writes, "We would call them crazy, but they are honored there as supernatural creatures." Yet this supernatural creature can't deal with time going forward. The "wheel" of time drives him insane as he can't slow it down.

Well, no duh you can't slow it down! Silly non-Westerners and their saints that don't understand time (this is sarcasm if you can't tell). The magic in this piece is not really magic. The "wheel" of time is something that everyone understands. It's nothing special -- no real magical properties. The climatic night is also described as magical with how the moonlight shines.

So nature and time are both magical. But so is music, and more importantly, music that's fueled by love. The two lovers' song soothes the saint's pain. He then soars up into the heavens. Is the moral here that love is what makes the passing of time bearable? Maybe. I'd argue more that love is being presented as the point of life. Don't worry about the days going by. You've got to appreciate the magical stuff around you -- nature, love, music -- or you'll go insane.

-Matt P.

"A Wondrous Oriental Tale of a Naked Saint"

“A Wondrous Oriental Tale of a Naked Saint” has both traditional and nontraditional characteristics of a fairy tale, but it is still a fairy tale. Because this story is a literary fairy tale, we can tell that it was written for a more literate and educated audience. It goes into greater detail than the typical fairy tale, but is much shorter when compared with “The Philosopher’s Stone”. In this sense, this tale is about the same length as a traditional fairy tale. The line, “At one time there was a naked saint who lived in a remote cave near a small river” resembles the typical beginning of a fairy tale that would read something like “once upon a time there was a king who lived in a castle...”. In terms of magic, there are no talking animals, but the magic spell placed on the man is broken in the end. There is also some sense of repetition (the cycle the saint is stuck in, anger to sadness), but it does not have to be blatantly stated or repeated word for word for the reader to understand. Finally, there is a physical transformation of sorts, but we are told that the saint is “like a tiger” and “like a snake” in his actions; therefore it’s not an obvious, true transformation.

However, this story also deviates from a few traditional characteristics of the fairy tale. First of all, the characters are not flat. The saint immediately starts developing from the beginning of the story, and he develops until the story’s end. Secondly, while the story does name an undefined place where the saint lives, the cave, the tale opens with a description of native people from the Orient. It gives the reader an actual idea of where the tale will take place and allows the reader to envision the setting. I think this story should be considered a fairy tale because while it diverges some, it still maintains many qualities of what we deem a traditional fairy tale.

An Unconventional Fairy Tale

At first glance, Wackenroder’s “A Wondrous Oriental Tale of a Naked Saint” is not your typical fairy tale: there is no gallant hero, no terrifying villain, and no fantastical spectacles of magic. If we view the tale as an artifact of its socio-historical climate, however—as a distinct product of the Romantic era—then we can more easily come to understand how this story represents an unconventional fairy tale, but a fairy tale nonetheless.

When we first meet the naked saint, he is a mad, pathological being, a social recluse who frantically and compulsively propels a great wheel, driven to insanity by the sound of “the rushing of time.” Visitors flock to gawk at the naked saint’s demented activities, laughing at him like a carnival spectacle, yet the madman cannot fathom what they find so amusing: he “mocks those people who could still think of such mundane affairs when time was terrifyingly moving on.” For years, the naked saint lives on in a state of paranoia and bitter torment, yearning to fill the cold, clinical void of his existence with “unknown beautiful things,” until one day, the ethereal notes of a beautiful song float into his cave, and suddenly, he is liberated from his imprisoning spell.

The story is an eloquent ode to the transformative nature of music and art. Before he discovers the ecstatic experience of art, the naked saint is condemned to a sterile existence, devoid of creativity or impulse, an existence that clearly mirrors the lifeless Enlightenment era. Going off this idea, the wheel can represent science, which men compulsively turn and twist to no avail. Cranking the massive wheel is a mechanical, scientific pursuit that brings about no true progress; rather, it simply heightens a person’s sensitivity to the slow, monotonous advance of time. It yields more destruction than actual positive change, and it only impels people into insanity. In this way, the Enlightenment Era, which is embodied by the naked saint’s lonely confinement in the cave, can be seen as this fairy tale’s “villain.”

If science and progress are seen as the tale’s villains, then art is exalted as its hero, as the positive, vibrant force that emancipates individuals and transcends evil. As soon as the saint’s ears hear the first notes of song, he is freed from his prisonlike state and—in typical fairy tale fashion—undergoes a transformation, his human form dissolving into a “soft vapor” that dances delightedly towards the heavens. Music also introduces an element of magic into the story. In the tale, music acts as an ethereal, ecstatic energy that acquires magical capabilities of its own. It is the liberating force that frees the naked saint from his spell and elicits a sense of awe and “nocturnal wonder” in the world. Thus, art—in particular, music—is cast as the tale’s hero. It is a triumphant presence that sweeps in and saves the hopeless saint from a cruel spell, all the while introducing magic to the lackluster, Enlightenment-weary world.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Naivety: the Seed to Masculine Adulthood

A common theme for this week's stories includes the notion that to become a man, a boy must be fearless. This is not all that uncommon in modern stories either; characters are often proving themselves to win the girl, fame, riches, etc. However, the character from our studied fairy tales often develop this fearlessness through naivety or outright stupidity. It isn't so much that they learn to be brave, but rather that they are just placed in trying or scary situations and driven by their own ignorance to the situation. The characters that are undergoing this "masculine transformation" in each of theses stories have a varying amount of success both in what they learn and what they are rewarded with, yet none of these stories seems to have a clear-cut moral for young boys seeking to become men. The point is simply that if you act on instinct rather than analyzing the situation, you will be successful (for the most part).

I found this vaguely similar to the feminine education that we've read about in previous stories this semester. Many of the protagonists survived or came out on top simply because they were a) beautiful and b) righteous and pure. Hardly any of these stories directly addressed how to outsmart a witch or charm a prince that wasn't interested in you using your own given talents; instead, some amount of magic and dumb luck was necessary in addition to the natural beauty and purity of the young girl. Like the early versions of LRRH in which the girl outsmarts the wolf in order to save her life, the stories of male growth that involve some failure or actual cleverness tended to give way to stories about successful protagonists with no real talents other than the uncanny knack of survival.

Its a gift and a burden

"A Tale About the Boy Who went Forth to Learn What Fear Was" is an interesting tale. The boy leaves home to "get the Creeps." What really got my attention was how he kept saying, "if only I could get the creeps!" as if getting them would solve all his problems. As a reader I find it hilarious that the boy wants to learn how to fear. To me he's screaming out "I need to conform, I want to fit in!" He wants to be like everyone even if that means being fearful.

I read the blissfully stupid boy as the richest of all the characters because his ignorance is a gift that allows him to achieve great things that other men can't. Its even more beautiful because he is not motivated by wealth or glory. I think that he is really just searching for a a means to relate to other people with "the creeps" as his vehicle. The beauty of the ending is that he remains ignorant. If he were to become aware of his great potential he would most likely lose his gift and become just another cowardly man.


"The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was" can be referred to as somewhat of parody of the typical fairy tale and all of its hidden cultural values. Although the hero of this story is a youngest son, he does not fit the usual character of such a son, who normally achieves his goals with the aid of magical helpers. Accomplishing his task with his own skill and courage, he fits more in the mold of a heroic character.

During his stay in the haunted mansion, the younger son comes across a multitude of corpses. His act of cutting down the corpses to let them warm themselves is similar to the test of compassion that many fairy tale heroes face, but where the act typically wins the hero a gift or a magical helper, here it is merely an incident, perhaps a parody of the more typical plot lines of many popular fairy tales.

The boys "lack" of fear stemmed from his ignorance of the cultural norms we are told to fear. This tale points us in a direction asking us to question if values or traditions we previously held important due to society telling us we should are really as correct of important as they appear. Are all of our unconscious or intense fears truly all mental? Have fears been instilled into us without legitimate reasons supporting these irrationalities? It seems as if there may have been a hint to the general public to take a deeper look into the public fluff we have been presented with throughout our lives.

"Clever Hans"

The story “Clever Hans” is a different take on this particular tale type of boys going on quests and then undergoing a transformation to adulthood. The story is similar to “A Tale About the Boy Who Went Forth To Learn What Fear Was” in that the main character is a young boy that simply has no common sense and seems pretty stupid. In this story, instead of being ignorant about what it means to be afraid, Hans is ignorant about how to treat a girl named Gretel, who is also his future wife. The tale begins with Hans’ mother asking where he is going, and he tells her he’s going to Gretel’s house. When Hans gets to Gretel’s house, she asks if he brought her anything; he tells her no and instead says, “Want something from you.” Somehow, Gretel knows what it is he wants and she gives it to him. Hans puts the object in a place that doesn’t make sense, and his mother is quick to tell him of his stupidity when he returns home that night. She tells him the proper place to put that object, and he tells her, “I’ll do better next time.” The cycle repeats itself multiple times and each time Hans makes a mistake. He keeps putting his new item from Gretel in the previous place his mother told him to put the other object. He simply cannot figure out what he is doing wrong. Hans says he will improve the next time, but he never does. It’s interesting that Hans goes to Gretel’s house, and she apparently expects something from him, but we do not know what. Instead of bringing her something, he always demands something from her, and then he cannot take care of what she has given him. In the end, Hans takes his mother’s advice, but once again he does not understand what she means. Instead of exchanging glances with Gretel using his eyes, he thinks she means the eyes of their cattle and sheep. Therefore, he cuts out their eyes and throws them at Gretel, who he had tied up to a rope after his mother’s instruction that he misunderstood. Gretel becomes so fed up that she leaves. In this story, Hans starts out as an ignorant boy. However, he never learns from his mistakes or fights a brave battle to become a strong, desirable man. He is unable to figure out what he is doing wrong, and therefore he loses his bride and cannot make the transition into adulthood. “Clever Hans” is definitely a strange and entertaining story that does not seem to fit with the other stories (like “Iron Hans” or “Bearskin”) in its tale type.

The Godfather

I'll go ahead and tackle a different tale. The "Godfather Death" story is just bound to have a bad ending from the start. Rejecting God - bad move. It seems the beginning is taking a turn for the better when the poor man rejects the devil, too, but then he somehow makes an even worse choice by choosing death. This first story is in itself a lesson. God is wise in his choice of distributing wealth, the first part seems to imply, and happiness is paramount - more so than material wealth or perceived fairness. One can be happy without earthly pleasures (the devil) or fairness (death). Instead he chooses the path of the rich and famous. This is what the poor man thinks will make a man happy, never knowing need.

So then we have part 2: death's godson becomes a famous power by teaming up with death. The boy tries to outwit death and, unlike the other stories that have happy endings, he fails. While normally failing life's tests would result in hardship (like the boy in Iron Hans being sent to the court as a pauper servant), here the punishment is death. There is no learning from messing up (clearly the verbal rebuke is not enough). You never win by trying to cheat death. You also learn that death does not hold its promises. There's not much of a realm of forgiveness here or chance for the boy to grow by learning from his mistakes. So the lesson is either don't ever make mistakes (impossible) or don't try to be tricky when the stakes are high - realize that a beautiful princess and the kingdom are not as valuable as life.

My comment on the growth process we see the boy go through is that it's rather short since death decided to blow the candle out, but I think lessons can easily be taken from it by those who heard or read the story.

“A Tale about the [Ignorant] Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear [Adulthood] Was”

The very second tale I ever read for this course (Week 1) was “A Tale about the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was,” and I do not think I shall ever forget it because it was just so peculiar. It has very interesting things to say about boyhood educational development, as well. Zohar Shavit writes [in “The Concept of Childhood and Children’s Folktales”] that by the nineteenth century when the Grimms were writing their tales, children had become a distinct people and that society had come to place a great emphasis on the education of these children. This is derived from the emphasis on teaching morals to child protagonists in many of the Grimms tales.

What is curious about “A Tale about the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was” is that the father has no interest in educating his youngest son, who is written off as stupid. Certainly, the boy’s education comes from his own desire to learn about “the creeps,” which is strange because children are psychologically egocentric, so why would his father just let him do what he wants? A child does not know what he needs in life; in fact, the desire to do whatever you want without care is particularly child-like. Maybe the boy is stupid, but he obviously does think about at least something, if only himself. I actually think the boy is probably just ignorant, and there is a big difference between ignorance and stupidity. (Ignorance means you just do not know something, and stupidity means you have been taught something, but you just do not understand it, or you do not know how to apply it.) Again, I would argue in favor of the boy’s ignorance because his father has no desire to teach him anything. As he says, “Learn what you want. It’s all the same to me.”

I would say that this family is actually very backward. If many German (or Prussian, at the time) families were teaching their children how to read so that they could piously read the Bible (for example) and grow up to be well-to-do adults, then why does the father not care to educate his youngest son? To me, his son is quite resourceful. He survives three nights in a haunted castle with his resourcefulness. In a way, though, I think it is his ignorance that saves him. Because he hasn’t been taught what to fear, he has no fear. Is fearlessness stupid,” though? Why is it that fearlessness is coded as stupid in this tale? (In the Daredevil comic book series, Matt Murdoch is certainly not stupid, but he is also “the Man without Fear.”)

Also, why does he get “the creeps” because of the minnows at the end of the tale? Are “the creeps” tickles? Does the boy just need to be touched? Do “the creeps” indicate a desire on the young son’s part to enter the adult world? That is, do “the creeps” carry a sexual connotation that would mark a rite-of-passage from childhood to adulthood? Also, if “the creeps” indicate fear, then is the boy actually scared to enter adulthood? Is the concept of adulthood, then, “the creeps”? In either case, it all circles back to adulthood...

Comment away!

The Role of Iron Hans in the Prince's Development

The stories “Iron Hans” and “The Wild Man” both feature a young, immature boy who is taken under the wing of a mysterious beastly man. When I envision Iron Hans, the image that pops into my mind is that of a large Hulk-like creature with bulging biceps and wild, unkempt hair, stomping boisterously throughout the countryside and slaughtering innocent people left and right with his bare fists. After engaging on a killing spree, the beast-man is eventually captured and thrown into a cage, where visitors flock to come and gawk at the frightening specimen.

In both stories, a foolish young prince fishes the key through the bars of the cage, allowing Iron Hans to free himself. The beast-man proceeds to kidnap the boy, who winds up getting lost and taking up work in a royal palace as a gardener’s assistant. A bit later, war seizes upon the kingdom, and the prince sees an opportunity to establish a name for himself. He gains fame in battle and manages to score the hand of the king’s daughter.

On his own, however, the prince is essentially useless. In these tales, Iron Hans is instrumental in the boy’s education and development. Without his guidance and support, the prince would surely remain a clumsy, bumbling buffoon who can barely keep himself from falling into the spring. Emerging as a sort of endearing, gentle mentor-figure—a far cry from the barbaric Hulk we saw before—Iron Hans bestows valuable gifts onto the prince, such as a gallant steed to aid in battle, and it is only with the beast-man’s unexpected assistance that the boy is able to emerge as a valiant fighter and secure a marriage with the princess.

In addition, at the end of the tales, just as the prince is getting married to his new bride, Iron Hans enters the wedding hall and graciously bequeaths his treasures and riches onto his newly-married student. Furthermore, he explains that he had been transformed into a wild man by some nameless magic spell but that this spell has now been broken. Interestingly enough, we never learn the nature or circumstances of this spell—why was Iron Hans condemned to assume a barbaric guise, and what did he have to do in order to become re-transformed? Although these questions are never answered, we might safely conclude that Iron Hans’s active involvement in the prince’s development somehow freed him from the shackles of beasthood.

Overall, it seems to me that all the credit and glory is wrongfully awarded to the prince, who is exalted as a war hero when in actuality it is Iron Hans who was the true orchestrator of the battle’s successes. Basking in the glory of his newfound fame, the prince fails to even acknowledge the invaluable contributions of Iron Hans, his mentor and teacher. Instead, he lets the people naively assume that he is a mighty warrior. At the end, then, when Iron Hans embraces the prince and expresses his gratitude, it seems somewhat backward. Shouldn’t the prince be indebting himself to Iron Hans, not the other way around?

Clever Hans- Had to learn the hard way

Clever Hans is an interesting fairy tale. The story is comprised of mostly dialogue and there is little description. The repetition in the story is the aspect which I wish to focus on in the education of a boy prompt. The story is about a boy who continues to go to his friend Gretel's house for something. Every time he goes to her house she, being a "typical" needy woman, expects something from Hanz. Instead, he asks her for something and she seemingly randomly chooses an item for Hanz to take back. However, nearly every time (except once- the knife) he journeys back with the object it is lost or hurts him in some way. His mother informs him that he must learn to decide which method of transportation is best suited for the object he is transporting. However, he always utilizes her suggestions with the wrong items and therefore continues to lose his item. He seems to shrug off his loss because he knows he will have the chance to get another object and try again another time.
However, Hanz finally learns his lesson when Gretel offers up herself. He, taking his mothers advice about transporting a cow, locks her up in a stall, and shockingly pisses her off. I dont know, i guess girls back then didnt like being treated like cows- wierd. And again, very shockingly, she does not run into his arms when he saves her from the shed he put her in in the first place. This story exemplifies the lesson: "you dont know what youve got till its gone." Now gretel is gone and maybe hanz will learn not to treat girls as objects and to use his head a little more often- this may be a stretch but perhaps thinking for himself... i dont know it could work.

Everybody's Special! No, seriously.

In the story, A Tale About the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was, things turn out a little different from most of the stories we've read. As we talked about in class, a character who is described as "stupid" and unable to "learn nor understand anything" somehow gets to marry a princess and be the hero. So how should we understand this story? One in which the shining knight is a total doofus?

I look at it as a tale for the rest of us. If you're born to peasants and are more familiar with crop planting than dragon slaying, here's a tale where you can succeed without be extraordinary. In fact, the hero' stupidity is his strength. He isn't smart enough to realize he's supposed to be afraid. He shoves a fake ghost down the stairs. He tells real ghosts that he'll hang them again if they don't leave him alone. He wins the king's daughter by spending three nights in a haunted castle.

In summary, by being too much of an idiot, the hero becomes rich and a king. The moral here seems to be working with what you got. Stupidity can be an asset. Stubbornness as well. Thus, everybody is a little bit special. If you use what you got, and even if it's not a lot, things might just end up as well for you as they did for the hero.

As for his wife, it's interesting that she is the one who gives him the creeps at the end. I'm not sure what to make of that. Is it saying marrying an strong woman a good thing? Let me know what you think in the comments.

-Matt P.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Intelligent or a bit slow?

Disney's version of "Snow White" portrays a somewhat intelligent young woman (snow white) who the Wicked Queen wants killed. She sends her out with one of her hunters who is supposed to kill her and he brings the heart of the wild boar back to the Wicked Queen.The Queen finds out that Snow White is still alive because she talks to her magic mirror while Snow White finds her way to the seven dwarfs. She lives with them and is eventually saved by a handsome prince who comes and kisses her which brings Snow White back to life.
In the Grimm's version the Wicked Queen does not want Snow White's heart but much more gruesome, her lungs and liver. When the boar's insides are brought to her, she boils them and eats them, thinking that they are Snow White's. It takes three attempts to kill Snow White with the Queen using the same disguise, insinuating that Snow White must not be too smart. A prince comes and he thinks that the body is beautiful, so he wants it. It is only when servants drop the coffin that the piece of poison apple dislodges from Snow White's throat and she is brought back to life.

It is interesting to see the turn of events and personalities of the characters that make up the flow of the story. Why is it that the woman must be quite slow and can only be seen as an object of desire vs. being intelligent and being silenced and then being saved by a prince? Another revelation of the ideals of society and culture during the times these versions were created? I think so.

Oh foolish father, you bring doom wherever you go

The character I'm going to comment on is an archetype that has garnered a lot of attention in all fairy tales and despite being a minor character in almost all circumstances has a profound effect on the development on the story. I speak of course of the parents of the main character, in this case the father of Snow White. Like in most other fairy tales, his actions are directly responsible for the plight of the beautiful young girl.

In The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest, he actually almost avoids putting his daughter in any sort of peril by being wary of his possible marriage to the evil stepmother. However, that wouldn't have resulted in a very good story, would it? So as fate would have it, the boot held water and the father married his daughter's would-be tormentor and the rest is history. After the marriage though the father mysteriously disappears from the picture, again facilitating the progression of the story by not stopping or hindering the evil stepmother and her wicked doings.

In the Brier Rose story, again the father plays a part in the misfortune that befalls his daughter but it is not by his marriage to some evil stepmother (though the woman he scorns is still an old crone). By failing to invite the 13th wise old woman (unlucky 13?) to his feast, he causes her to lay a terrible curse on his young daughter. Though unlike the father in the Three Little Gnomes story, the king takes a proactive approach to help his daughter and destroys all of the spindles in his kingdom, one of which is prophesied to be the cause of a hundred year sleep for his daughter. Unlike the previous story, the king does not just disappear into oblivion but still plays a central role in the story.

In Snow White, again the king is the cause of his daughter's turmoil (indirectly, anyway) by marrying the evil stepmother and sealing her fate. But again in this story the father just kind of disappears and plays no further role in the unfurling of events. He serves as a catalyst for a reaction, and once the reaction has taken place he ceases to be useful and is cast off. Though it appears his role as the spark that starts the fire, so to speak, never really changes, his role in the rest of the story changes from tale to tale.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Huntsman

The huntsman is a minor character in “Snow White”, but it is still interesting to note the subtle differences in Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and the Grimms’ and Anne Sexton’s text versions. To begin with, the Grimms’ version goes into quite a bit of detail about the huntsman and his emotions. After taking Snow White out into the woods, the huntsman pulls out his knife to kill her, but cannot do it. Snow White begs the hunter for her life, and “Snow White was so beautiful that the huntsman took pity on her and said: ‘Just run away, you poor child’ ”. In comparison, in the Disney version, the roles are reversed and the huntsman actually gets down on his knees and begs for Snow White’s forgiveness.

In Anne Sexton’s version, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, the huntsman’s duty is simply stated and then the story continues. There is no explanation of the guilt that the huntsman felt, which kept him from fulfilling the Queen’s desire. Sexton writes, “Bring me her heart, she said to the hunter, and I will salt it and eat it. The hunter, however, let his prisoner go and brought a boar’s heart back to the castle.” In both stories, the huntsman decides to disobey the Queen’s order because of his compassion for Snow White, and instead he brings the Queen a boar’s heart. We are never told what happens to the huntsman if he does not succeed.

The huntsman in Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is a larger man who reluctantly agrees to obey the Queen’s order. Unlike the other versions, the Queen threatens him about what will happen to him if he does not follow through with her order. The huntsman looks weak and inferior when in the presence of the Queen. However, as he approaches Snow White, he looks frightening and his eyes are so focused on Snow White that it seems he is intent on carrying out the plan. As Snow White realizes what is happening and the huntsman raises his sword, he hesitates. Then, he immediately drops to his knees asking for her forgiveness, instead of the Grimms’ version in which Snow White pleads with the huntsman.

The huntsman is the one who takes pity on Snow White and disobeys the Queen. Some versions give the huntsman a larger role, while others hardly mention him.

Why do we think the huntsman is even part of the story? Why doesn't the Queen just kill Snow White herself instead of calling upon the huntsman?

Snow White- no excuses

So, I know the story is called Snow White, but I think there should be an immediate renaming. Snow White is the most static and uninteresting character, especially Disney princess EVER. I think the with of the story is much more dynamic and interesting. I would like to compare the change in characterization of the witch from the Briar Rose version to the Grimms Snow White version.
In Briar Rose, a relatively short version of the story, non of the characters are described in great detail, especially, ironically, the protagonist. The witch, unlike most other stories, is not related to snow white at all. She is neither stepmother or biological mother. This lack of relation between snow white and the woman who is trying to kill her provides a wierd sense of security- it is not someone you know or are related to trying to kill you, but a random person who you dont even know. In fact, interestingly in this story, the "witch" wasnt jealous of Snow White's beauty. She was pissed that she didnt get invited to a party. Seems like wishing death on a baby is a pretty overdramatic response for not getting an invite. However, this dramatic reaction makes the witch more interesting and questions the reader to inquire as to her motives and the roots of her inner evils. In Briar Rose, snow white is at fault for her sleep. She goes wondering into unknown parts of the castle. She finds the room full of spindles, the tool that should lead to her demise, and voluntarily tries to reach out and touch the fascinating piece of sewing machinery. The witch did not entice or coerce her in any way. I have never heard of a snow white story where the spell is cast when snow white is a baby and the witch doesnt have to do anything to make sure the curse comes true. She didnt even have to try twice to make Snow White sleep. Also, in this version the witch doesnt die and is not punished for her evil actions. She walks. For a 3 page story i found the queen and her inner struggles and background a more appealing story.

Next, Snow White. Here, the Grimms take on a longer version and characterize the major characters more fully- especially the queen. Snow white is pretty much the same dumb protagonist as in all the other versions. In this story, the evil stepmother is introduced. While a stepmother is not blood related. which would make her wanting to kill her daughter much more disturbing and perhaps would not have been accepted by the general public, the notion that the woman is related to Snow White increases her evilness. She is also concerned with looks in this version and the motives behind her attack on snow white are clear, she is jealous and wants to be the "fairest" in the land. Also, the magic mirror is introduced. The mirror speaks to the queen almost daily and until the maturation of snow white, reassured the queen of her superiority. However, when the mirror surprised the queen as he revealed that snow white is, in fact, the most fair- the inner demon of the queen is exposed. The reader can now delve into her personality, her desire for acceptance and preference over the other women, and watch as she lets her emotions become extreme in her many many plots to kill snow white. Well, 4th time is a charm when she finally succeeds in "killing" snow white. However, as we all know, while the witch might be a more interesting character, the good girl with virtue (and stupidity- not always interrelated) wins the prince and gets revenge. Interestingly, the last paragraph of the story is not about snow white, but about the queen and her interesting and questionable response to snow whites marriage. What was with the dancing? Why was she petrified of snow white? Thoughts?

The Man in the Mirror

I wanted to examine some of the similarities and differences between the mirror representations. As we've discussed all week in glass, Gilbert's and Gubar's argument is that the mirror is a "tool patriarchy suggests that women use to kill themselves with art" (Tatar 77). Disney uses a deep, monotone male voice and a forboding mask to represent its mirror. There is only darkness and fire. The queen, representative of women, is caught in an "imprisonment of the looking-glass" (Tatar 77). What once began with vanity is now an obsession, and she must keep returning to hear what the voice will say to her. There becomes a constant need for this affirmation, to which Disney gives an unmistakable male authority.

I'd like to compare this to the movie we saw on Monday. This 1961ish version has many, many differences, but I found the difference in the mirror to be most striking. The mirror is in a well-lit room, and it has jewels around the side that light up with a cute jingle every time the queen asks it a question. The voice is a lovely woman, who sounds more like Glinda the Good Witch than anything evil. The mirror is overall pleasant. The worst part about it is the reflection betrays the horrible acting skills of the woman who plays the queen. The facial expression changes are pretty terrible.

What the mirror actually reminded me was of the toy Snow White mirror I had growing up. Here's a link to a modern version. When you pressed the button, pleasant, happy chimes would sound and images from the movie (I think) would flash around the screen. I can't remember if it answered questions or what the phrases were. But I also found this beauty. A real talking mirror that tells you that you are the fairest in the land! The voice is Snow White, so it's not a demeaning patronizing one, but still.

Like Kate mentioned today in class, although the mirror in the stories is genderless, I found myself always thinking it had a male voice. In the romance languages, "mirror" is a masculine word, but I doubt that was what the casting people at Disney had in mind when choosing the way to play the mirror. Looking online, I found an audition for a new Snow White movie, and it is also casting a "male voice" for that of the mirror. It would be interesting to talk to casting directors who do representations of Snow White today and see what their logic is behind making the mirror a man. Is it a conscious choice, or has Disney so shaped America that we all assume it should be male because that's the way we first saw it?

Diluting Evil

Through the countless variations of the Snow White stories, the "villainess" generally falls into one of two categories: evil stepmother to Snow White that becomes queen through marriage, or an evil witch with a vanity vendetta against Snow White. The final Brothers Grimm version of Snow White takes the former route. The evil stepmother tries to kill Snow White so that she will be the fairest of them all. The same can be said for Disney's film adaptation of Snow White; the stepmother is in place from the beginning of the story and is out to eliminate her competition. Representing the other malicious faction is Briar Rose, which personifies evil in the form of a non-blood related witch. Finally, combining elements of both of these factions is the 1916 film version of Snow White, which included both an evil witch and a (pawn-like) stepmother.

All of these versions represent different pathways to dilute the evil within the fairy tale. In order for a story to truly be a "Snow White" story, there has to be someone after Snow White, whether for her beauty or other half-schemed reasons. The original Brothers Grimm version involved the mother attempting to kill Snow White in response to her increasing beauty. However, this version was cleaned up in order prevent audiences from being terrified while still maintaining the evil (regardless of how diluted). Consistent with most themes of fairy tales, maternal characteristics are ideal, so making the mothers the villains of the story is out of the question. Yet by placing the cruel deeds on a stepmother or evil witch, the evil is maintained while protecting the domestic inner circle. The general evolution of the Snow White fairy tales has steered away from slandering this inner circle, especially mothers, and placing the blame elsewhere.

From Pig to Prince

On the whole, Disney’s 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarves closely adheres to Grimm Brother’s classic version of the tale, although slight revisions are added here and there to render the film more idiosyncratically “Disney.” With the character of the Prince, however, we most see Disney depart from the Grimms’ original plotline. In the character of the Prince, Disney faced the biggest challenge: the Prince of the fairy tale tradition is, to put it bluntly, a necrophiliac, a lecherous pig who views women as little more than museum artifacts. Clearly, such a character would prove problematic in a film geared toward impressionable young children, so a series of adjustments were in order.

As it goes in the Grimms’ version of the tale, a Prince is strolling through the woods one day when he stumbles upon a lifeless Snow White, resting inertly in a glass coffin. Infatuated by her beauty, finding her extremely aesthetically pleasing, the Prince desires to take the coffin under his possession. He announces immediately—as though bartering for a piece of livestock—“Let me have the coffin. I will give you whatever you want for it.” Keep in mind that the Prince has never before laid on Snow White. It is not Snow White the human he desires, but rather Snow White the object, the handsome ornament that will make a fine centerpiece for his living room. It is noteworthy that the Prince says “let me have the coffin” rather than “let me have her.” Clearly, the Prince fails to even consider the fact of Snow White’s humanity. Seemingly unnerved by the fact that he has just purchased a dead woman, the Prince exhibits no sorrow for her tragic condition and is instead giddy at the prospect of his fine purchase, his “toy,” if you will. Snow White is eventually resuscitated, but it is not the result of a romantic kiss—instead, the apple is accidentally dislodged from her throat, to the quiet dismay of the Prince, we might imagine, whose pretty, passive plaything has been suddenly transformed into a living, breathing woman.

Now, we turn to the Disney film. Disney swept in and inserted an element of indelible romance into the Snow White story. At the very beginning, he attempts to establish some sort of romantic attachment between Snow White and the Prince—to be sure, it is the cursory “love at first sight” romance of the Disney variety, but a sense of romance and intimacy nonetheless. Thus, when the Prince later finds Snow White unconscious, feelings of strong, overwhelming love compel him to revive her, and so, with a tender kiss, he breathes the life back into his beloved. Unlike the Prince of the fairy tale tradition, Disney’s Prince exhibits horror at seeing Snow White dead, a horror that obliterates his ability to simply sit back and admire her beauty. In this way, Disney effectively transforms the persona of the Prince from a salacious pig into a romantic, courageous hero.