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.