Sunday, November 30, 2014

Once upon a time, the semester came to an end...

In this blog, please reread all blogs you have written and reflect about what you have done and learned in the semester.
Over this semester, being in the From Grimm To Disney FYS turned out to be an even better experience than I could have hoped for. In looking over all of my notes and blog posts from these past weeks, I realized just how much we have learned in this class. When the semester first began, I had never really considered all of the different elements that are in every fairy tale that we take for granted, such as the magic, repetition, and round numbers. I thoroughly enjoyed analyzing all of the different fairy tales with the rest of the class. It was always interesting to see how each individual would interpret the various symbols and motifs in the stories. Also, there were always so many Disney puns that we could make together! I found the different ways of analyzing the fairy tales fascinating, even though I didn't always agree with them. After examining psychoanalytical approach to Cinderella, I don't think I'll look at shoes the same way again.

When I gave my presentation on Bettelheim's interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, I discovered that I learned a great deal more about the tale than I otherwise would have by merely reading the article or listening to someone else explain it to me. While public speaking is not my favorite thing to do, I found myself enjoying the presentation, and I am very glad I was given the opportunity.

I also enjoyed watching the different movies as a class. I had not watched several of the movies before, and it was interesting to see how Disney had adapted the movie according the cultural tastes of the time, similar to how the Brothers Grimm had edited their tales years before. Of course, it was always fun to discuss and comment on the film as we watched it!

As for the class as a whole, I cannot even begin to say enough good things about it. My classmates are all wonderful, sometimes crazy people whom I am lucky to know.  Despite Bettelheim, I absolutely loved this course, and believe that being in it has made my first semester here simply magical and unforgettable.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair...or not.

In the both the original story of Rapunzel and in the Disney version "Tangled," Rapunzel does not cut her own hair. Instead, Mother Gothel cuts it for her in the Grimm version as punishment, while Eugene whacks it off in one surprisingly neat chop with a mirror shard as a way to free her from the abusive Gothel. 

Therefore, Rapunzel is alternately punished through the haircut in the original fairy tale, and rescued by the haircut in the Disney movie.

However, what if Rapunzel had taken the initiative to cut her own hair?

Created by Patrick Hardin

In this cartoon, Rapunzel explains to her prince that she has cut off her hair. She apologizes, but gives him a practical reason for cutting off all of her hair, as it was too expensive to maintain. While this in itself is humorous for modern readers, the cartoon brings out an aspect of Rapunzel's character that was not present in the original fairy tale. Rapunzel would never have cut off her long, golden hair in the Grimm story, as it was a symbol of her femininity, as well as the means for her prince to visit her. But with this more modern princess, all of that is rejected in favor of practicality, and forces the prince to come up with a different means of pursuing her, as her long hair no longer provides a way for him to scale the tower. In this way, the Rapunzel of the cartoon is a much more independent individual than the Grimm's princess.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blue Murder

The three fairy tales of "Fitcher's Bird", "The Robber Bridegroom", and "Bluebeard" are all very similar in nature. All three have a murderous husband or husband-to-be, and involves the bride narrowly escaping death. However, in each tale, the way that the bride is able to escape her fate differs in a unique way.

In the French tale "Bluebeard", the new wife is left by her husband for six weeks. Bluebeard gives her the keys to all the rooms in the house, but cautions her not to use the small key to open the small room or he "should be so angry he might do anything" (Perrault 1). However, despite occupying her time with visits from family and friends, Bluebeard's wife is unable to resist the temptation to look inside the smallest room. When she opens the door, she discovers that the floor is covered with blood and several women's bodies are hung on the wall. In her shock, she drops the key, which is bewitched so that, no matter how hard she tries, she is unable to remove the bloodstains. When her husband returns and learns of her disobedience, he declares that she, too, must die. The girl is only saved by the intervention of her brothers, who arrive just in time and killed the treacherous Bluebeard. This story is different from the others, for in this tale the bride does nothing to try to extricate herself from the situation, and merely waits and hopes that others will come to rescue her. This is not my favorite of the tales, for I do not like the fact that the girl knew that her murdering husband would come back, and still she did not prepare for the event or flee from the house.

Of the three tales, "The Robber Bridegroom" is the most different in regards to plot. The groom in the story is part of a group of cannibals, and the bride discovers his intent to eat her when she observes him kill and eat another girl. Unlike the girl in "Bluebeard," the bride in this tale does not wait for her fate to overtake her and hope that someone else will intervene. Instead, she tells the story of what she observed in the cannibals' house on the day of the wedding, pretending at first that it was a dream until she produces the murdered girl's finger as proof. The guests then catch the group of cannibals, and all are executed. Another difference between this story and that of "Bluebeard" and "Fitcher's Bird" is the lack of magic; there is no magic key that betrays the bride, nor is there any other form of magic.

My favorite of the three tales is "Fitcher's Bird". In this story, a sorcerer uses magic to catch three sisters, one by one, and carry them off to his house. This tale is similar to "Bluebeard" in that the sorcerer gives the girls a key, but forbids them to go into that room. They are also given an egg to take care of. The first two girls go into the forbidden room, when they discover a bloody basin full of corpses, into which they drop the egg. Similar to the key in "Bluebeard," the egg is bewitched to keep the bloodstains, and the sorcerer kills the girls and chops them up. However, the third girl he brings there does not drop the egg. Instead, she pieces her sisters back together, and the girls come back to life. The sorcerer returns, finding that his power over the girl is gone, and the rest of the tale involves the girl manipulating him until the village sets his house on fire. I enjoyed this tale the most, for the heroine showed the most ingenuity in freeing not only herself, but her sisters from the terrible situation.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Doctoring Fairytales

Find a cartoon online with “Little Red Riding Hood” as a theme and write a reflection on that cartoon.


What if Little Red Riding Hood wanted to be a doctor, and looked at the wolf's appearance from that perspective? This cartoon explores that possibility, and has Little Red Riding Hood suggesting that the wolf disguised as her grandmother has such big eyes because of a thyroid problem.

In the original tale, Little Red Riding Hood notes what big ears, hands, and mouth that the wolf has, accepting that these odd changes in her grandmother's appearance have miraculously occurred. In the cartoon, Little Red Riding Hood instead takes her observations further, and tries to come up with a medical reason why this would have happened, based upon her desire to be a doctor. However, because Little Red Riding Hood is paying more attention to her supposed grandmother's hypothesized ailments than the grandmother herself that she fails to notice the bigger problem that her grandmother is in reality a hungry wolf. This could perhaps show how some people look at small details, and fail to put them together in order to understand the real problem. Red, because she wanted to be a doctor so much, is just as unobservant to what is really going on around her as she was in the original tale, and tries to make what she sees in front of her make sense from an assumption she already has.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Man or Monster?

Once upon a time, there were two princesses. One was the spoiled but beautiful youngest daughter of a king, and the other was a kind and beautiful youngest daughter of a king. Both eventually find their happy ending, after finding that their monster is really a handsome prince or god, but the means by which they achieve their happily ever after is very different.

In the story of Cupid and Psyche, the princess Psyche is said to be more beautiful than the
goddess Venus herself. This draws the wrath of to fall upon the girl, but instead of everything going to plan (in which the girl falls in love with a monster), Venus’ son Cupid scratches himself with his own arrow and falls in love with the princess. Soon, the oracle of Apollo decrees that the princess will marry one who many call a monster. Her sorrowing parents leave Psyche on a mountain, where she is escorted to a palace that belongs to her groom. She is only with her husband at night, but never sees his face. Eventually, after her jealous sisters convince her that her unseen husband may be a monster that will eat her, the princess looks at him. She discovers that he is not a monster, but Cupid. However, he flies away from her, and she has to work hard to redeem herself. Eventually, the two lovers are reunited and both live happily ever after.

This story is slightly similar to The Frog King, in which the princess is forced to deal with a sort of “monster”, in this instance a frog. This princess is described as so beautiful that even the sun marveled at her. One day, when she drops her gold ball into a well, a frog agrees to fetch it for her as long as the girl promises to let him live as her companion. After he gives her the ball, though, the princess runs off. The frog follows her, and when he tells the king of the princess’ promise, the king forces his youngest daughter to keep that promise. The frog sits next to her, eats from her plate, and is carried by the princess to her room. However, when he demands to sleep next to her she angrily throws him against the wall. The ugly frog is transformed into a handsome prince, and the princess happily agrees to be his bride, and they live happily ever after.

The similarities between the tales lie in the fact that both protagonists are the youngest daughters, and are forced to be with someone they believe to be a monster. However, the two deal with their situations in very different ways. Psyche tries to sneak a look at her husband, and does not mean any harm to him unless he tries to attack her. She then faithfully tries to make up for this by completing the tasks that Venus sets for her. In contrast, the princess in the Frog King story tries to defy her father, and flings the frog at the wall in an attempt to be rid of him.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Blogs!

I enjoyed reading all of the different blogs created by the members of the class. Everyone has a different perspective on each fairy tale, making it interesting to read and compare the different viewpoints.

My favorite blog is In the Realm of Today (KU). I like hers for several reasons; firstly, her blog is easy to read. It is in a simple font, and against a neutral background that doesn’t hurt one’s eyes. Secondly, she uses many colorful pictures that brighten up the blog, and make it visually interesting. Her posts are also very good, choosing unique titles and giving a lot of examples from the text or movie she analyzes while keeping it concise.

A blog that could use some improvement is the FYS From Grimm to Disney (BV). While there are many good ideas presented, they are not fleshed out very much, and the posts do not contain many details or examples. Also, the blog could be spiced up a bit with the addition of pictures into the posts.

My very favorite post is the fourth post of the blog Once Upon a First Year Seminar (MQ), concerning the "rags to riches" tale of Cinderalla. The post takes a position on the question of whether someone can reach success or riches with magic or marriage, and gives some creative examples to defend this position, using Dr. Ben Carson and the late Princess Diana.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snow White: a Tale of Hope

When the fairy tale “Snow White” was adapted into Walt Disney’s feature length film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, there were some aspects of the story that were altered while still remaining consistent to the original tale.

The Disney movie begins with Snow White singing as she cleans the steps of the castle, as her stepmother has made her work as a scullery maid. This is different from the Grimms' tale, which does not feature this Cinderella-like motif. Snow White seems to be an orphan in the movie, while in the story her father is mentioned in the beginning. 

Another difference is that Snow White is not portrayed as a seven-year-old child as in the fairy tale, but as a young woman of marriageable age. This is in part due to the fact that Disney introduced the element of romance to his film. 
No one wanted to see an unknown man suddenly show up in the story and cart the beautiful princess away, and then marry her. Instead, the prince was added in the beginning of the movie as well, and Snow White was shown to fall in love with him. The Disney movie was made during the Depression, a time in which many people needed something to hope for. While Snow White sang about wishing for her prince, the viewers would hope with her, and also hope that a savior would come to rescue them from their difficulties as well. The idea of the prince being viewed as the the hero who puts everything right is also Disney's way of putting himself into the story. He gave very little credit to his animators, and made sure everyone knew that this was his movie by putting his name in large letters across the screen.

In both versions, the stepmother becomes even more jealous of Snow White's beauty, and orders the Huntsman to kill the girl. Snow White is spared by the Huntsman's kindness due to her innocence, and she flees into the forest, and eventually finds the house of the seven dwarves.

Another way the movie deviated from the book is that the creators gave personalities and names to the seven dwarves. In the film, dwarves were made into main characters just like Snow White and played just as important roles in the plot. Giving credence to this idea is the fact that while the Grimms’ story is called “Snow White”, the Disney version is entitled, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” Also, the dwarves in the original story keep a very clean and neat cottage, while the dwarves of the movie have a dirty house, and are suspicious of baths. This made them more endearing to viewers, who laughed at their antics as they tried to clean themselves up for dinner. 

In both the story and the movie, however, Snow White agrees to cook and clean for the dwarves in exchange for being allowed to stay at the cottage. At the same time, the hard work of both the dwarves and Snow White demonstrated to those during the Depression that eventually hard work does pay off, and there will be a bright tomorrow for everyone.

The queen eventually finds out that Snow White is still alive in both versions, and disguises herself to go to the cottage of the dwarves. Something that the movie and original story both have in common is that Snow White is poisoned by an apple given to her by her evil stepmother. However, the movie does omit the queen’s previous attempts to kill the princess using stay-laces and a poisoned comb.
Instead of the queen dying at the wedding wearing red-hot iron shoes, the seven dwarves chase her onto a cliff, which breaks off. The evil queen falls to her death, out of sight of the viewers, making it more child-friendly.

Both stories have Snow White placed into a glass coffin until her prince comes. Disney romanticizes the tale here yet again, by having Snow White revived when the prince kisses her, instead of it occurring by accident as it does in the original tale.

A major difference from the book is the fact that there is music and singing. There is no mention of singing in the original story, but the movie is full of songs. Snow White sings while scrubbing the steps of the castle, while lost in the woods, while cleaning the dwarves’ house, etc. Even the dwarves sing a working song as they cheerfully go about their work.

While there are many similarities between the Grimm and Disney versions of Snow White, Walt Disney ultimately created a more child-friendly, light hearted film that would cheer up the people living during the Depression, and many others over the years.