FAIRY TALES, FOLKLORES AND CULTURE
Table of Contents
The tales can be defined as short stories based on the imagination and certain imaginary concept of existence on fantasy land. These are basically the resultant work of fiction that is practically difficult to be proven due to the absence of appropriate scientific reason. According to Schudson (1989), the fairy tales, fables and myths are created towards the objectives of moral learning. This is an attempt of defining the origins of the civilisations and cultural issues of today’s life.
All these three types of tales are dependent on imagination of fantasy world. On the other hand, the characters and incidents discussed in the tales do not have really any real life existence. However, all these stories are used to provide some moral education. Thus, they have some real life implementation and are directed towards helping us overcome various adverse situations. (Backman and Murray, 1991).
The differences among these three tales can be interpreted on the basis of the nature of the stories. Fairy tales are created basically for the children that include the adventures and some magical elements. However it is not necessary that these tales have some fairy in the stories. Cinderella is a world famous fairy tale where the story is based on a real life situation to some extent (Johnson and Howard, 2010).
Fables are the stories that provide moral education. Some fables are created with the help of animal characters by personifying those characters into human life. Aesop’s fables are most popular fables where each of the stories is created on a particular moral to implement on human life. It also plays a vivacious role in adding high morale to cultures and values.
On the other side, myths are based on the mysterious events and moral values with the help of some magical activities that have no such existence in the reality. Sometimes, spiritualism and religious references are also included in this section. It helps the individuals in identifying a balanced path for their life (Jenkins, 1992).
Thus, all the tales contain some moral education to be learnt whereas not all the tales explores it directly. It is the task of readers, in some context, to find out the appropriate interpretation and implementation in real life situations.
Folklores are the traditional stories that can also be termed as the oral tradition. The reason behind this type of interpretation is the oral creation of these stories on imagination and coincidental experiences. Folklores can be categorised into three different sections.
Superstition is the section of tales that includes the supernatural incidents and its effects on the life of individuals. Most of the cases these stories have been proven to be superstitious based on some coincidental experiences [www.folklore.org, 3rd July 2013].
Legends are the tales based on some of the incidents and deeds of various popular personalities. These stories are based on some actual incidents happened in the life of any historical character. An effective example of this section is the tales of King Arthur and his knights [www.pitt.edu, 2th July 2013].
This type of tales comes from the third hand or fourth hand information (like, friend of a friend) that has gained its popularity through channel wise transformation or modification of the original story. One of the key purposes of creation of urban legend stories is matching the key principles with the present scenario of social and cultural aspects [www.pitt.edu, 2nd July 2013].
The fairy tales and fables are created in a certain situation to provide moral education in context of enhancing the value of culture and ethics in the human life. As the mentality of the human behaviour changes over time the stories have also been changed to match the thought pattern of the social and cultural communities in the present scenario (Jenkins, 1992). Basically the fairy tales are interpreted in verbal communication process. This can be the only reason that the original stories have been changed in the modern context. Thus, the fairy tales are modified according to the requirements of the social and cultural issues. The stories also help in maintaining the ethical issues of the human life to add value in the form of high morale.
Disneyfication is all about the technological improvement and visualisation of the stories that personifies the characters of the fairy tales and fables. Walt Disney had initiated to interpret the traditional stories in the new mode of interpretation with the help of technological development for example- animation software application.
Disneyfication has several effects on social and cultural as well as organisational and economic issues. Television has now become an important medium to connect the society and cultural aspects with such tales (Johnson and Howard, 2010). Not only the children people across various age groups now seek entertainment and education in form of animated movies. As the recent trend states that children are more interested on the animated pictures known as cartoons. Animated movies with high quality technological support form an effective procedure of conveying moral education of those tales to the children.
This also boosts up the economy by earning revenue by selling the tales in motion picture format. For example, the tales of the Barbie series have become more popular after broadcasting the stories in 3D animated film format. Visualisation is one of the important aspects that enhance the capability of interpreting the stories in modern context. In some cases, backgrounds have been modified at the time visualising the tales in the movies. Examples of such movies are Barbie – the swan lakes, Barbie – the fairytopia etc [www.pitt.edu, 2nd July 2013].
All the fairy tales are created by focusing certain situation and its related problems. Each tale aims to meet its objective by teaching moral education. It enforces the psychological changes in human behaviour by appropriate interpretation of those tales (Linda, 2007). For example- from the story of Robert Bruce, an individual can learn that patience is the key factor to achieve the success where repeated failure through facing several challenges is the way of reaching at success. On the other side, from the fables natural human behaviour can be identified in such a way that can be utilised in solving problems with those human behaviours. From the tale of Ulysses the philosophy of life can be interpreted as the sea voyage that implies the creativity of individuals to be explored within the lifespan (Jenkins, 1992).
The elements in a fairy tale are the essential components to recognise the story separately as a fairy tales or the folklores. The fairy tales are the special type of stories different from the other kinds of tales. However, it is not also necessary to have all these elements in a folklore/fairy tale. But a standard folklore/fairy tale needs to have these elements to be identified as a fairy tale. The elements can be described as follows:
One of the important elements of these stories is its starting and ending phrases like, “once upon a time,” “a long, long time ago,” and “they lived happily ever after.” All of these phrases are authentic to help the reader in identifying the stories as fairy tale or folklores [www.folklore.org, 3rd July 2013].
Another important element of these stories is the place where the events take place. The place can be a castle, a forest or a town or city. On the other hand, the place can also be a village. For example- in the folklores most of the tales take place in the village and forests whereas the fairy tales take place in both the village and town like Cinderella.
Every fairy tale should have some positive as well as a negative character to understand the differences between the ‘good’ and ‘evil’ attributes in human behaviours. Most of the fairy tales or the folklores that take place in a town is basically having a character in royalty. The character can be king, queen, prince, princess etc. In the story of Cinderella, there is a character of the prince who is involved in a romantic relationship with Cinderella, whereas the story of Rapunzel concentrates on the protagonist who is a princess (Linda, 2007).
Magical event is one of the common elements of the fairy tales that supports the good characters to solve the problems they face throughout the story. These magical moments are designed in an efficient manner that the reader can visualise the effect while reading the tales. The characters metamorphose in beautiful dresses and other desired results to be expected (Kortenhaus and Jack, 1993).
Most of the tales are created on the basis of certain problems that are solved by the characters of the tales specifically by the main characters like Cinderella, Rapunzel etc. whereas in the fables, the problems are analysed by drawing some morals from the story as a whole. For example- in the case of the story Princess and the pea, the Prince has a desire to marry a real Princess where the queen has helped him in finding the real princess with the help of a pea [www.folklore.org, 3rd July 2013].
The cultural norms that are represented by such fairy tales, folklores, fables etc. play an important role in the process of socialization of the child who reads them. Additionally, such fairy tales, folklores, fables etc. also affects the way during children are treated by nobles and adults and at the same time it also influences the potential behavioural prospects (Jenkins, 1992).
5.1 Appreciation of utilisation of fairytales/folklore elements in cultural artefacts (a work of children’s literature):
Linda (2007) truly mentioned that a child’s first movement towards literature is the fairy tales or folklores. It is evidenced that in the early elementary education, the lack of mythology lessons and the sort of mythology evoke knowledge in teenagers is the main cause of concern. On the other hand, Jenkins (1992) pointed out that compared to this, the high school students are knowledgeable about the basic Aesop’s fables and the well known fairy tales like Cinderella.
The research shows that, aimed at developing early literary habits, most of the states in U.S, like California, North Carolina, and Rhode Island made the study of folktales, fairy tales and fables mandatory in the curriculum at pre schooling level. As mentioned by Bogost (2005), the study of such folk tales, fairy tales and fables in the early schooling level perpetuate and enhances the cultural norms throughout the world the child lives in.
As children grow, they use all such information gathered from fairy tales, folklores and fables along with the information derived from various social avenues and identify behavioural, ethical and moral framework. As mentioned by Black (2005), the characters of the fairy tales, folklores and fables depicted in the children literatures provides a supportive hand towards the children to understand what it means to be male or female as its applies to performance, personality, or profession surrounded by the child’s culture. After conducting so many researches, the researchers concluded that the uses of fairy tales, folklores and fables in the children’s literature, exposed the stereotyped images of gender, was likely to have a measurable effect on the development of a child’s self esteemed. Moreover, it also enhances their perceptions of the child along with the abilities and potentials (Michael, 2006).
Again, the research also depicts that in children’s literature, the voice of the characters serves as a figure of speech of female agency, as long as it’s able to rule with the potential for self determination (Backman and Murray, 1991).The chosen colour for the illustrations of such fairy tales also plays an important role as most children’s love bright colours. The motifs such as talking animals make the reading very enjoyable and exciting. However, any elements or motifs used in the children’s literature shouldn’t be violent and it shouldn’t show any unparliamentary images.
Nowadays most of the tales are available in the form of a movie like Harry Potter, Superman etc. When a person desires to engrave a tale or produce a movie, they should take lots of things into account which can affect child behaviour. Additionally, they should use words, sentences that can be easily understood by children and shouldn’t use the word that can possibly confuse them. So, it is essential to consider the child’s behaviour and how it can be affected by such fairy tales or folklores.
Backman, C. B., and Murray C. A. (1991) “Self-perceived physical attractiveness, self-esteem, race, and gender”. Sociological Focus, 24, p 283-90
Black, R. W. (2005) “Access and Affiliation:The Literacy and Composition Practices of English Language Learners in an Online Fanfiction Community.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49 (2), p 118-128.
Bogost, I. (2005).“Procedural Literacy: Problem Solving with Programming, Systems and Play.” Telemedium:The Journal of Media Literacy, 52 (1 & 2), p 32-36
Jenkins, H. (1992) Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge.
Johnson, R. H. and Howard B. K. (2010) “Stability of Psychological Symptoms: Drug Use Consequences and Intervening Processes.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 31:277–298
Kortenhaus, C. and Jack, D. (1993) “Gender role stereotyping in children’s literature: An update”. Sex Roles, 28, p 219-232.
Linda T. P. (2007), “Ella Evolving: Cinderella Stories and the Construction of Gender-Appropriate Behavior,” Children’s Literature in Education, 35(2): 135.
Michael, M. (2006) “Forever Acting Alone: The Absence of Female Collaboration in Grimms’ Fairy Tales,” Children’s Literature in Education, 28(3): 111–25.
Schudson, M. (1989) “How culture works”. Theory and Society, 18, p 153-80
www.folklore.org. 2013. FOLKLORE. [online] Available at: http://www.folklore.org/index.py [Accessed: 3 Jul 2013].
www.pitt.edu. 2013. Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts. [online] Available at: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html [Accessed: 2 Jul 2013].