Having recently read a book called Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know, I started to think about how much Fairy Tales have changed over the years.
We tell our children the same fairy tales that have been told for centuries, in that time we have adapted those fairy tales to fit our current views.
I often hear that fairy tales aren’t anywhere near as gruesome as they used to be, I have to say I agree, but is this necessarily a bad thing?
What may have been acceptable then would be considered too gory now or not realistic enough. Who knows what they would think of our versions.
The most renowned fairy tails stem around the late 18th century from two German Brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, AKA The Brothers Grimm. They studied Philology (a study of written language) and Germanic studies, and eventually began to collect Germanic fairy tale and folklore stories.
These stories frequently portrayed damsels in distress who are very beautiful and a bit useless and hapless men who save and fall in love with them. They were also often macabre and featured scenes such as giants having their heads cut off and red hot iron shoes being worn as a punishment.
In one version of red riding hood both the Granny and little girl get eaten by the big bad wolf. Modern versions of these fairy tales have been altered so that they are not nearly as gruesome as they were when they were first told.
Some have been completely revamped. Walt Disney’s versions of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast bear very little resemblance to the ‘original’ tales.
So, has the Grimm been eradicated from our modern fairy tales?
I would say no, they are there to be found with Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Tim Burton’s version of Alice in wonderland. There are others lurking in the woodwork, we just have to look through the fluffy ones.
The trouble is how do we define what is too gruesome for a young child? Is it better to grow up with the modern fairy tales and look back on the older versions as an adult? Or is it good to see both versions when you’re young?
I quite liked growing up with these modern fairy tales and love watching Walt Disney cartoons. I find it interesting to look back now to see their origins, but would that have interested me as a child? I doubt it.
I would love to about any recent gruesome fairy tales and whether you think they can match up to older tales. More to the point are these gruesome fairy tales more for adults or for children?