Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale

The Immortality of Sleeping Beauty and Storytelling


When we think of the fairy tale today, we primarily think of the classical fairy tale. We think of those fairy tales that are the most popular in the Western world: “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rapunzel,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “Puss in Boots,” “The Frog King,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Tom Thumb,” “The Little Mermaid,” and so on. It is natural to think mainly of these fairy tales, as if they had always been with us, as if they were part of our nature. Newly written fairy tales, especially those that are innovative and radical, are unusual, exceptional, strange, and artificial because they do not conform to the patterns set by the classical fairy tale. And, if they do conform and become familiar, we tend to forget them after a while, because the classical fairy tale suffices. We are safe with the familiar. We shun the new, the real innovations. The classical fairy tale makes it appear that we are all part of a universal community with shared values and norms; that we are all striving for the same happiness; that there are certain dreams and wishes which are irrefutable; that a particular type of behavior will produce guaranteed results, like living happily ever after with lots of gold in a marvelous castle, our castle and fortress, which will forever protect us from inimical and unpredictable forces of the outside world.


Fairy Tale Universal Community Classical Tale Classical Myth Courtly Love 
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Copyright information

© Jack Zipes 2002

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