Sunday, November 30, 2014

....And then it ends

The girl looked at her computer screen and sighed, it was time for her very last blog entry. It was strange to think that her FYS was ending; after all it was only like October- right? All denial of the class she loved ending aside however, she really had learned a lot in her FYS and had come a long way in how she viewed fairy tales.

Some of the most memorable things she had learned involved Bruno Bettelheim and his...interesting interpretations of the symbols in fairy tales. Namely that pretty much everything relates to sex or sexual maturity in some way. It was slightly weird for her to learn that the tales she had heard or watched as a kid involved so many sexual themes and ideas.

She also had loved learning new tales and not only the ones that are well known and even though the class did not solely study Grimm tales that were turned into Disney movies, she liked learning about the less well known tales and seeing less well known movie adaptations of these tales. It was interesting to see how the movies changed the different tales and to identify why they made these changes. Usually it was to make the tale more appropriate for children or more conforming to the zeitgeist. 

In learning about the tales and their deeper meanings, she learned how to better analyze fairy tales and other texts to find lessons and metaphors that are not immediately apparent. She also learned that fairy tales have other uses than just being used as lessons for children. They are, for instance, very useful in therapy in helping the patient to identify their problem and potentially figure out a solution to it with the help of the therapist.

She also became a better writer through the essays assigned. She needed to think in a different way to be able to successfully write the first one and through that, applied what she had learned in class to be able to find meanings in something she initially thought she would be unable to analyze. She learned to be concise in her essays, to get her point across without being overly wordy. She also learned that specificity is an important part of essays to be better able to illustrate a point.

 The most important thing she had learned however was that a group of strangers thrown together for a class could end up being a lot closer than they ever would expect. Even though an almost ridiculous amount of things happened to this group, they would support each other and end up being similar to a family. In talking with her friends in other FYS’s, she learned that she had a very special FYS and that not all the FYS’s were as close as hers. She would always be thankful and feel lucky that she had been put in this FYS with the all the amazing people she met and although it was sad to be leaving, she would not have changed any of it.

And she lived happily ever after.....well after finals anyway.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your....key?

The comic I chose was drawn by Norman Jung. It depicts Rapunzel throwing the key down  the tower to the prince, but he accidently gets hit on the head and gets knocked out at the base of the tower.

It is sometimes wondered how Rapunzel did not know about the secret stairs that Mother Gothel would have had to use until she was old enough to  pull her up and her hair was long enough. This comic shows a humorous idea of what could have happened even if she had known about it and the potential problems that could have stemmed from that.

If the story had been depicted in a way similar to the cartoon, it would have been very different and potentially a lot shorter. If the key hit the prince on the head and killed him, then presumably Rapunzel could have lost her only way out of the tower. It also raises the question of why she could not just go down and unlock the door from the other side. It also shows that the traditional way of getting into the tower, Rapunzel's hair, is potentially a better way because even though it is awkward and time consuming, the prince would not get knocked out from something falling on his head. The cartoon does not make any mention of the witch or even imply of her. In contrast, Rapunzel is the one who has the power to get into the tower through her possession of the key. This could also imply that she has the power to leave, however she, for some reason, cannot let herself out of the tower and needs the prince to let her out.

The cartoon by Norman Jung shows a very different idea of what could have happened in the tale of Rapunzel and how even though we sometimes question why she did not find the door earlier and use it, the traditional way of the story can work better.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Her curiosity got the better of her and when her husband found out what she had done he raised his arm.......

And then she died a horrible, gruesome, bloody, painful death....or  actually she didn't, because she was saved by her brothers or the power of the narrative or by covering herself in feathers and honey and pretending she was a bird. 

The story of "Bluebeard", "The Robber Bridegroom" and "The Fitcher's Bird" are all fairly similar: there is a girl either just married or about to be married, she goes somewhere she shouldn't and narrowly escapes certain terrible death by either summoning help or saving herself. The heroines in these tales are different than in many others in that they play a key role in being saved. Although an old crone protects the young fiancé in "The Robber Bridegroom" and the young bride's brothers come to her rescue in "Bluebeard", the two heroines do play a part in their salvation: the fiancé in revealing her bridegroom's true nature and the bride in stalling Bluebeard and signaling for help from her brothers. Only in “The Fitcher’s Bird” does the heroine escape solely on her own cunning without any help from others. There is also the theme in each of these of curiosity especially in women being very detrimental or dangerous.

I liked all three of the stories for the most part. I do not agree with the idea that curiosity is dangerous, because no one would learn anything if no one was curious. I think I liked “The Fitcher’s Bird” the best however. I liked how the heroine saved her sisters and herself completely on her own merit and was able to kill the sorcerer who had been terrorizing everyone. Most of the time in fairy tales, the men are depicted as cunning and smart while the women are prizes or overly passive and waiting for a prince so I liked how the tale deviated in that aspect from the fairy tale norm.  

Although, I didn’t like the tale as much, I liked how in “The Robber Bridegroom” the girl was able to save her life through the power of the narrative. I have always believed that words are some of the most powerful things that we can use and I liked how that was reflected in the tale.

I liked all three tales-even though I don’t agree with the “curiosity is dangerous” lesson- because they are very different than the other Grimm tales and I liked how the heroines were instrumental in their own salvation instead of passively waiting to be saved.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Grandmother what big....."

The comic by Chris Hallbeck depicts the classic exchange between Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf she believes is her grandmother, but with a bit of a twist. Instead of responding in a way that would imply that the wolf was going to eat Little Red, his responses deviate, given the more comments she makes. By the end, it almost appears that the wolf actually is her grandmother or has at least taken on the characteristics of her.

I personally like the cartoon because I think it's a funny take on what the response would be if the wolf actually was her grandmother or forgot that he was acting to be able to eat Little Red. I think it shows an interesting perspective of what would happen if the wolf had lost focus on his ultimate goal of eating Little Red along with her grandmother. I thought it was amusing how the wolf became so focused on tricking Little Red, that at the end, he became more of the indignant grandmother instead of the big, bad, scary creature he was supposed to represent. It shows how in acting like someone or something else, you can actually take on some of the characteristics and ideas of them. It was also interesting how it showed how her grandmother probably would have responded if Little Red had just walked in and started making her observations.

Overall, I thought the comic was funny and showed a different way that the conversation could have ended, especially if the wolf became sidetracked by Little Red’s comments.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Cupid and Psyche" vs "The Frog King"

Most people know the face of the person they are about to marry. In society, for the most part, the bride and groom have known each other and dated for a decent amount of time. Very rarely in most cultures, have the bride and groom never met and even then they probably have at least seen a picture of the person they are marrying.

The opposite is true in the fairy tale "The Frog King" and the myth "Cupid and Psyche". In both, the bride- the Princess and Psyche- did not know what their future husband looked like and this caused them to become frightened. In her fear and anger, the princess threw the frog against a wall which caused him to turn into a handsome and kind prince, causing her to lose her fear of him and fully accept him. Psyche is initially a little afraid of her new husband who she was forbidden to see the face of, but quickly lost her fear when he was kind to her. She only became truly fearful of him when her jealous sisters convinced her that her husband Cupid was a terrible monster that was going to eat her and her unborn child. Although both female protagonists were afraid of their husbands, it was for very different reasons.

Although their stories are similar, the Princess and Psyche are extremely different characters.

The Princess is depicted as a spoiled brat who is only concerned with getting what she wants and will make promises she does not intent to keep in order to achieve her goal. She promises the frog many things so that he will retrieve her golden ball for her but once she has it back, she forgets all about him and will only keep her promises when her father, the king, orders her too. She is also shown as extremely shallow as she only keeps her promise to the frog once he has transformed into a handsome prince.

By contrast, Psyche is shown as a much kinder and pious character. She grows to truly love and care for her husband even when she can't see his face. It is only when her sisters come and in jealousy convince her to fear for her and her unborn child's safety does she disobey his wishes. After she has disobeyed Cupid and he has left her, she works tirelessly to be able to get him back including doing impossible tasks set to her by the goddess Venus -Cupid's mother- which she completes with help from friendly animals and spirits. Psyche is the one who works to earn back what she once had and is rewarded with eternity with her husband. The Princess is rewarded with the Prince even though she has been proven to be spoiled, shallow and undeserving.

In the two tales "The Frog King" and "Cupid and Psyche", the two heroines are in the end rewarded with kind husbands who care for them. However Psyche is the one who worked to earn back her husband after her mistake caused her to lose him. On the other hand though, the Princess was mean, did not keep her promises and was still rewarded with the Prince. Of the two, Psyche was more deserving because she worked for it. The two stories show similar plots, but with very different female protagonists.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Review on Blogs: The Good, The Bad and The Favorite

After reading most of our class blogs, I think that as a whole, they are all good and are very unique to each person’s individual ideas. I think it is interesting as we are all in the same class, participate in the same discussions and yet all come away with very different perceptions and ideas.  That being said, a couple stood out…


I enjoy the blog From Grimm to Disney (HK). Although the posts are generally rather long, they contain a lot of information and specificity that makes them interesting. There is also use of images to provide visual interest and metaphors that connect to both the images and the concepts introduced in the blog which help make the blog itself easier to understand and more interesting to read.

Bad (Improvable):

I believe that the Blog FYS From Grimm to Disney (BV) could use some work to be improved. The blogs are very short and could add more content and detail to make the blog more intellectually interesting as well as add images or other forms of media to improve the blog's overall visual interest.

Favorite Entry:

My favorite entry is Blog Entry 4 in FYS: Disney to Grimm (DN). I thought it was very cool how they incorporated a real life example of the 'rags to riches' rise tale in the form of Catherine I. It really illustrated the point being made and showed that it was not only a matter of opinion that someone could rise from rags to riches, but that someone actually did.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Snow White: Grimm vs Disney

"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,

Who in this realm is fairest of them all?

These are perhaps the most iconic lines from the tale Snow White, both the Disney and original version by the brothers Grimm, and even though the Disney version does stick mainly to the original plot, there are some rather large differences between the two.

The most obvious and at the same time least obvious is the change in the Dwarves. Not much detail is shown about the Dwarves in the original tale so we don't really know if they had names or what their personalities were like or if they were just duplicates of each other. The adding of these details takes away the focus from Snow White and puts in on the dwarves allowing them to in essence become the new main characters of the fairy tale. In the movie, the plot and entertainment does not truly start until the dwarves are on screen as they are much more dynamic than Snow White. They also need Snow White in a childlike way in the movie, their house is a mess, they can't cook and they don't bathe. Whereas in the tale, everything in their home is "indescribably...neat" and they only let her stay because they feel sorry for her. Disney probably added these characteristics to the Dwarves to make the whole movie more entertaining overall, add comedy and to help balance out the incredibly passive- almost to the point of being boring- Snow White.

Disney does not completely change the Dwarves purpose however, he still has them protect Snow White and keep her in a traditionally feminine role. In both the tale and the movie, the dwarves protect Snow White in their home from the Queen. In the movie, their protection is continued when they chase the Queen away from their house and ultimately to her death. They keep Snow White in traditional female gender roles by keeping her in the house, cooking and cleaning.
The Evil Queen also changes; she is seen as more of a sorceress in the movie, casting a spell to make the mirror work as opposed to the tale where she merely begins to talk to it and it responds. The process of her making the apple is also gone into more in depth. The circumstance of her death is the greatest change of the Evil Queen; instead of being forced to dance in red hot slippers until she dies, she inadvertently kills herself in trying to kill the Dwarves as the cliff side crumbles. Disney probably made this change to make the movie more acceptable to children and to help preserve the innocence of Snow White and the goodness of the prince- both of whom would have needed to mercilessly watch the Queen dance to her death. This was also probably to keep with the times of the depression to enforce that if you are a good person, good things will happen and if you are a bad person, bad things will happen to you possibly by your own hand.

The prince is also given a larger part in the movie and has more of a central focus. He is still seen as the savior; however he takes a more active role in saving Snow White by kissing her instead of the apple just getting jolted out of her mouth by accident. This change was most likely made to help reinforce the idea that women need a man to 'save' and fulfill them.

Snow White also changes in the movie; although she is still incredibly naïve and innocent, she is portrayed as older. This change was made to match the audience’s idea of a proper marrying age, which was older than the age of around fourteen she likely was in the tale.

The changes Disney made to the Grimm’s version of the tale Snow White were to help match it to his ideals, the ideals of the time, and to spread some joy and hope in the midst of the depression.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Cinderella Rise Tale Motif

While one of the favorite ideas of the public and Fairy Tales is that if you are a good person and you wait, you will marry into higher status or through some amazing act of kindness you are able to advance in status, the reality is not quite as magical. Even though it is possible for people to better themselves and have a "rags to riches" story, often times the way they achieve this is through their own hard work and rarely through some 'magical' act. It is possible for someone to suddenly become successful through help from a seemingly magical benefactor or to marry into riches or success. However, often when someone-especially female- marries into wealth or power there is usually doubt of their own merits and they are often referred to derogatorily  as trophy wives or gold-diggers and they are often looked down upon as merely being physically attractive and having no real success of their own.

The rags to riches stories that is exulted in modern culture is often one where the person in question didn't marry or magically obtain wealth or power, but rather one where they worked long and hard and by their merits, were able to advance themselves. These people are often viewed with more respect and dignity than those who seem to magically advance in society because they are viewed as having worked for what they have instead of having success handed to them. There is somewhat of a magical element in these stories however, where people will say that they were so close to achieving their goal, but couldn't do it on their own and suddenly they are in the right place at the right time, or someone important notices their hard work and in some way they are given that 'magical' boost into what they had worked so hard for.

The traditional Cinderella rags to riches story, where one marries into or is magically given success is not as exulted in the current day due to the view that they had success given to them. However, the slight alteration where a person works hard to get success and maybe close to their goal they have some 'magical' help is received much better because people believe that they earned everything they worked for instead of simply having it given to them or marrying into it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hansel and Gretel: Why MGM would change the Tale?

In the very first version of the tale, the mother was Hansel and Gretel's birth mother, however, the Grimms later changed this to the mother being the children's stepmother- the movie kept to the very original with the mother being the children's own. This was probably to match with the very major change of the mother yelling and sending the children to get berries in a fit of rage instead of the preplanned abandoning of the children with the father's help. This presents the mother as still loving her children, but becoming upset and yelling at here children as opposed to the heartless step-mother who care more about herself than Hansel and Gretel.  The children then get lost and wander their way to the witch's house while their frantic parents search for them. This is very different from the original where presumably the parents did nothing to look for them because they abandoned them and had no intention of going back.

The probable reason behind this major change was to make the film more child-friendly. Then, the children would be presented with an image of parental figures that genuinely loved their children, and tried to help but had flaws like all parents do as opposed to parents who plot to and then carry through with abandoning their children in the forest so that they will be able to eat. This will give children a more positive look at parents and show that even though they make mistakes, they still love their children. If they had shown the original story, it would present a dichotomy of the parent's love-especially the father's love for his children. While at first he protested against abandoning them in the woods, he did go along with it and help their mother/step-mother. However, at the end he is overjoyed to see his children again. This could present a confusing situation to some children who wouldn't understand why one minute he is allowing, and helping, his wife to leave his children in the woods and the next, when they return, he is beyond overjoyed to see them. However, presenting the story the way they did, allows for continuity in the story and the way the parents felt about their children.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What is a Fairy Tale?

"Bibbity Boppity Boo", "I'll wave my wand...", "The curse was cast...” the animals talk, witches live around every corner, dragons and beasts live in every cave and forest, and the silverware speaks! Oh it must just be a Wednesday. This is all commonplace, normal; or at least it is in the realm of Fairy Tales, where the extraordinary happens and at most, the reaction is a raised eyebrow. Magic. Ultimately, this is what defines a Fairy Tale: magic and the acceptance of it as par for the course, as an everyday occurrence.
This is not only what defines a fairy tale however, there are other parts that while not as immediately obvious and memorable as the magic, are just as important. There is a timeless quality in fairy tales- everything happens the way it is supposed to irregardless of time; Sleeping Beauty wakes up 100 years later just as beautiful as when she fell asleep and nothing really concerning society at large has changed either. There are the young and the old; however the aging process is never really shown. The Fairy Tale functions as it should and ignores the progression of time if it needs to.
There is also a heavy use of repetition in the tales. This allows for a build up toward the climax as the story progresses.
 Isolation is also an important characteristic that allows for the audience to focus on that one character as well as allows for the character to focus on the task in front of them and prove themselves on their own.
Fairy Tales favor strong contrasts- the peasant boy wins the heart of the princess- to show that it is the quality of the person that matters, not their lineage.
Fairy Tales are also morally simplistic- there is right and there is wrong, black and white, no gray, no moral ambiguity. This idealistic view of the world that is so clear cut is appealing, there is no doubt in what you are doing- it is either good or bad and not a mixture. This is one of the reasons Fairy Tales are so loved- although the view of the world is simple, it takes out the measure of uncertainty many deal with as they make decisions in the real world.
And finally, and arguably the most important they give hope, allowing for those who desperately need it to look for someone who will save them or allow for them to find the strength to save themselves.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

And so it begins...

Once upon a time there was a girl who grew up in a house that was....enthusiastic about Disney (to put it mildly). As a result, she loved fantasy and magic and believed in it a little longer than she probably should have. This lead to a fascination with fairy tales in any form- rewritten for the modern day, changing of good and bad, and even the old versions of them- the Grimm Tales. She liked the endings that were so different from her childhood of Disney princesses and also enjoyed the shock factor when she told her friends exactly how these tales ended. When she found out that there was a FYS at her college where she could study her old favorite movies and the tales where they came from she was thrilled and was even more excited when she was placed in it.

Her favorite of all the Fairy Tales (even though it was more Disney than Grimm) was Aladdin. She loved the songs, the animation and especially the genie but it was the princess who truly made it her favorite. Jasmine was the first princess she had seen who didn't marry with someone because they were a prince- she wanted to marry someone she truly cared about and who cared about her. She was also a fantastically strong princess; she is the only princess to have worn pants, flirted with the bad guy to help the good guy, punch a member of the forty thieves (granted that one was in the third movie) and have a pet tiger to send after people she didn't like. The girl wanted to be like Jasmine and have her strength and courage. She also liked how the Aladdin wasn't perfect like it seemed many of the other princes were, he was a normal person and made mistakes like everyone else. And of course, Genie was one of her favorite characters in any movie ever especially with her love of magic.

This story of Aladdin would always be special to her and she knew that it would stay with her for her whole life. And who knows, maybe in this class, this From Grimm to Disney she would find more stories, stories that would stay with her too, but as of now, only time would tell...