Saturday, September 19, 2009

Deadbeat Dads, Grimm Style

One of Julie's first assignments for her high school English class was to read a selection of Grimm's Fairy Tales and analyze the characters.

I now remember why I never read these stories to the kids when they were small. Spending a few minutes with Cinderella, Hansel, Gretel, and Snow White (not the Disney versions, but the actual tales on which the classic kids' animations are based) was all it took to remind me of how gruesome and "grim" these stories are.

Besides the cannibalistic witch and a few narcissistic stepmothers, what struck me was the weakness of the fathers portrayed in these stories.

Cinderella's dad gets remarried and allows his new wife to make his daughter scrub floors all day and night.

Hansel and Gretel's father is convinced by his wife to lead his children to the middle of the forest...And leave them there to die.

Snow White's dad did not sense his new wife's hatred for his daughter. How could he not know that his new life partner was scheming to have a huntsman kill Snow White, and, in another cannibalistic example, plan to eat her heart? Thankfully, the huntsman had the compassion to exchange Snow White's heart for that of a bear. Probably Baby Bear's...

While I have always been a bit put off by Disney movies because of the seeming untimely demise of parents in almost every single children's film (I'm thinking of Bambi, Simba, Tarzan, Nemo...the list goes on), I now realize that the literature behind many of these stories is actually far more troubling.

I'm kind of wondering about the family life of the Brothers Grimm...



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