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QIR: Reading Fairy Tales Forum

QIR: Reading Fairy Tales Forum


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Name: Bewitched
Date: //2004-09-15 21:34:45 :
Link to this Comment: 10844

I included magical people in my fairy tale because I felt that was keeping true to what a fairy tale should be. I would say a fairytale as we have been accustomed should have a magical aspect to it. As Bettelheim would have us believe magical creatures are there to relieve children of some anxiety, and why not have someone who could magically make our dreams come true?


Mixed Feelings about Bettleheim
Name: Annabella
Date: //2004-09-15 21:52:09 :
Link to this Comment: 10845

Upon reading Bettleheim's work on the value of fairy tales, I found that he relied on premises with which I disagreed.
Early in his piece he refers to,"...the propensity of all men to act aggressively, asocially, selfishly, out of anger and anxiety."
Here he attemps to argue that these aspects of what we may call "human nature" are inherent to all humans. I strongly disagree.
If this were true, all humans would exhibit these behaviors. Fortunately,
we have had many demonstrations where this is not the case. The most obvious would have to be the religious icons, Jesus, Buddah, and the like. But we also have many people currently walking the earth, as we probably always have, who do not do these things. I am sure each of us has met at least one person who doesn't seem perturbed by the world around them. We usually call them "really special" and we get a little misty when we talk about them.
Some of these people have figured out how the rest of us can "unlearn" the stuff that brings these behaviors on: fear.
It is fear in any of its many forms which brings on these behaviors. When our fears are faced and dealt with in a concrete, methodical way, they disappear. It is happening on a large scale on the earth today. When one dedicates themselves to dealing with every fear as it comes up, the abhorent behaviors stop. The reason we don't all do this is that it seems more frightening to face our fears than to just deal with the behaviors, or we don't know we have the option.
Humans are inherently good. I know this is true because all of us have at least some goodness within us...everyone. We would all be good all the time if we weren't so confused by fear.
To draw the conclusion that because a child has fear and this fear shows itself in the form of viscious thought therefore means that he is not inherently good is a non-sequeter.
If we were to learn as caretakers how to help the child deal with the fear, the viscious thoughts would cease on their own accord along with the abhorent behaviors.
There have been many cases of this documented, and more every day. One lady in particular, Byron Katie, has been doing this with children as young as 4 or 5, all the way up to centurions.
We'll just deal with the children in this discussion. She asks them a carefully formulated combination of questions which lead the child to move into and through their fear. In scenario of the fear of the "Boogie Man" or the monster under the bed the child meets in their mind the "Boogie Man" or the monster under the bed. They have a conversation with the offending party, and invariably come up reporting with smiles and giggles that the previously scary boogie man and/or monster are friendly and looking to be their friend. These children report that they have never attempted communication with the scary one before. Eventually they come to say with more giggles and smiles that the boogie man and/or monster aren't really there at all.
Parents consistently report that after only one session with Byron Katie, the child sleeps through the night, and is bothered no more by the boogie man.
If it only happened in a few cases, or speradicly it could be argued that the lady is lucky. But it happens consistently and anyone can be trained in the questioning process. The questioner must offer the child absolute unconditional love. She never tells the child they are wrong, but simply asks them the combination of questions, fully respecting the child and their point of view.
This method has also done extraordiary work with violent children, not to mention thousands of adults.
This is a much more effective way to deal with a child's (or adult's) violent thoughts and/or tendencies. Bettleheim suggests that we feed them airy fairy tales and hope that through some magical process of osmosis including suggesting to the child that their violent thoughts are normal, the child will come to work it out that there is hope?! I don't think so, and if I might add, it appears to me that the results are in, and the fairy tale method is failing miserably at giving a child what they need to become happy adults.
I was further disappointed when the seemingly learned Bettleheim said, "...forming a truly satisfying bond to another...that when one has done this, one has reached the ultimate in emotional security and permanency of relation available to man, and that this alone can dissipate the fear of death."
WOOOOOAAAAAAA now. If this is true, that leaves about 50% of the adult population to suffer never-ending emotional insecurity and fear of death.
Requiring a partner to complete us; I call this "the long way around to happiness." It has been my experience that when a loved one is there, yes, it's easy to feel safe and secure. But it is a false sense of security. As soon as you have them lined up where you want them, they move! Then what do you do according to Bettleheim? Go find another and latch on to them for dear life because this is the only way to feel secure, and dissipate fear of death? I should say not.
Even if you pick a person who will hang in there with you, they die in a car wreck or something. My point is you can't count on anyone else for your happiness without knowing in your gut that you could lose them anytime. And that defeats the purpose of security anyway.
Good for him if he had/has a life long partnership. Appearantly he hasn't had to find the REAL answers to "What's it all about, Alphie?" As long as you have a "loved one" by your side you think you know what it is about. It's about being with them. But once they are gone, and that answer no longer works, the questioning goes much deeper than before.
Fortunately for the rest of us his answer is NOT the only one, and there is an answer available to all of us. For true "emotional security and permanency of relation" I can look only to myself. I am the only one who will always be with me come hell or high water till death do I (de)part. Only when I look to myself for that type of relationship and look deep enough to find it within myself do I have a relationship that is truly emotionally secure and permanent. As long as I look to anyone else to provide it to me, my security is severely jeapordized.
Along the same vein Bettleheim says fairy tales are helpful because they teach the child that they "will ... find the other with whom he will be able to live happily ever after--that is, without ever again having to experience separation anxiety." What world does Bettleheim live in? Not earth. Perhaps fairy tale land?
Even lifelong lasting relationships only offer the partners these feelings of emotional security on occasion. All "long-timers" I have talked to about their relationship can tell many stories about when they were afraid the other would leave. Having a devoted loving partner does not dissapate seperation anxiety.
I have never had to worry about that in my partnership with myself.
Great relationships are fabulous and very worthwhile. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for them. But they are not guarantees of anything he says they deliver. And a whole lot of violent behavior is demonstrated when we realize that they can not fulfill these promises.
His attempted proof that fairy tales helped a specific little girl went as follows: "This fantasy (Rapunzel) continued to sustain the girl (into adulthood), though to a less intense degree, until she fell in love and married, and then she no longer needed it." Sounds to me like he lives in fantasy land. My experience is that it is when you get married that you need fantasies more than any other time!
He made absolutely no case that I could tell as to how a fairy tale can help a child. He guessed at how a child takes in a fairy tale, but his conclusion that the promise of a secure life because of a strong union with another person is so far off base that the rest of his thesis carries no weight.
On the positive side, he did present the idea that when a child feels like he is the only one who is having violent thoughts, they are even more frightening. I agree. So don't read the child fairy tales to quell their fears by showing them that there are people who do REALLY bad things to other people, where you don't even know what the child is actually taking in. As a caring parent or loving individual take the time and effort needed to learn real, effective, loving communication skills with the child. Share some of the scary thoughts you had as a child and how you overcame them. Let them know you truly understand what they are going through. Learn the combination of questions that can lead a child through the fear to the laughter at the other side of a fearful thought.
The answer to raising happy adults is not in reading fairy tales. The answer is in thoughtful consideration for the child. There are no magic bullets, but there is effective communication.
For more information on the questioning process go to www.thework.org


"deeper meaning" and "truth"
Name: Kathleen
Date: //2004-09-15 22:02:11 :
Link to this Comment: 10846

There is a young woman in my Greek class who giggles and snickers every time we translate a passage that mentions something about the human soul. It is as if she is a 12 year old hearing her phys-ed teacher use the word clitoris. Others giggle, too, sometimes, as if those ancient Greeks were just SO SILLY.
This contempt infuriates me. To me, they are silly. My having a soul (or more accurately, the fact of my soul currently inhabiting a human bio-container)is more "true" to me than my having hands. I wish that I had the courage to tell them this.

There is a reason that I am writing you all about this.

I am feeling differently about fairy tales these days... I am beginnning to think that they speak to/of the human soul- the terror and joy and confusion of figuring out how we are going to be safe in the world. And also, how we are going to grow. I think that fairy tales describe the risk of it all, the fear/knowledge that we will most certainly fail without help, the persistence that even the smallest iota of hope can kindle.

I mean, if we are are bipeds who are born, suffer, torment other bipeds and die...isn't that just about the worst posssible scenario? Is it just me and the people I hang out with, or does everyone need some magic, or love, or hope in their lives?

Oftentimes, fairy tales provide or describe this.

I like the Schiller quote, and agree with it far more today than I would have a week ago. Sometimes stories- our stories, fairy tales- feel more true than the lives we are living. I'm thinking right now that Alice Walker's Temple of My Familiar has far "deeper meaning" to me than the "truth that is taught in life."




Can Bettelheim and Sexton Be One?
Name: Patricia W
Date: //2004-09-15 22:24:37 :
Link to this Comment: 10847

This weeks' assignment to “Bettelheim” Anne Sexton's fairy tales was a challenge in bring two opposing views into agreement. The article, “The Uses of Enchantment” I found Bettelheim's concept that fairy tales are the manna for a child's emotional well- being. I was very disappointed in the manner in which Bettelheim treated those who were opposed to his viewpoint. He referred to them only to discount them; I would love to see a rebuttal to Bettelheim's theory.

It was difficult at first to find a commonality between Sexton and Bettelheim. The manner in which Bettelheim outlines the virtues of traditional fairy tales and Sexton rewrite of them positions them as being juxtaposed, thereby taking any of Sexton's fairy tales awkward at best, but I may have found something common between them. They both acknowledge that children are aware of the pain, fear and contradictions of life. Bettelheim writes, “However, the prevalent parental belief is that a child must be diverted from what troubles him most: his formless, nameless anxieties and his chaotic, angry, and ever violent fantasies.” I think Sexton's retelling of the fairy tales makes an attempt of giving voice to children who are abused and violated in a society where their pain is ignored or discounted. I find it interesting that she uses the fairy tales as a platform to offer this viewpoint.

I have altered the way in which I determine what a fairy tale is. I disagree with Bettelheim's view that there is a redeeming model within ALL or MOST fairy tales, however I do see the value in the points he outlines as being necessary for a child's growth. I think his scope was too narrow by believing magic and the like should be reserved for only children. The world gets no better for the adult.

Another note for thought. Bettelheim and Sexton both found life unbearable.



Name: akisia
Date: //2004-09-16 11:14:30 :
Link to this Comment: 10852

I am having a hard time formulating an intelligent response to the fairy tales we have read and to the article by an ostensibly intelligent man in an ostensibly intelligent magazine arguing for the primacy of fairy tales in the proper socialisation/self realisation of children.
I am still at a loss as to how he came to this conclusion, how he measured the efficacy of these vis a vis any other medium of information and why would think that Cinderella, in spite of its "possibly millenia of refinement" could be more useful than a work more grounded in reality, Enid Blyton for instance or Judy Blume or the bible. It seems to me a very shaky proposition indeed, the argument highly subjective and the subject deeply uninteresting.


Can Sexon and Bettelheim Coexist?
Name: Patricia W
Date: //2004-09-15 22:42:38 :
Link to this Comment: 10848

This weeks' assignment to “Bettelheim” Anne Sexton's fairy tales was a challenge in bring two opposing views into agreement. The article, “The Uses of Enchantment” I found Bettelheim's concept that fairy tales are the manna for a child's emotional well- being as questionable. For all of his lofty claims, the children to whom Bettelheim references occupy a small percentage of the population. Was Bettelheim suggesting that children with special needs had NOT read the fairy tales? If so, does it follow that if they have problems it's because of poor parenting?

I was very disappointed in the manner in which Bettelheim treated those who were opposed to his viewpoint. He referred to them only to discount them; I would love to see a rebuttal to Bettelheim's theory.

It was difficult at first to find a commonality between Sexton and Bettelheim. The manner in which Bettelheim outlines the virtues of traditional fairy tales and Sexton rewrite of them positions them as being juxtaposed, thereby taking any of Sexton's fairy tales awkward at best, but I may have found something common between them. They both acknowledge that children are aware of the pain, fear and contradictions of life. Bettelheim writes, “However, the prevalent parental belief is that a child must be diverted from what troubles him most: his formless, nameless anxieties and his chaotic, angry, and ever violent fantasies.” I think Sexton's retelling of the fairy tales makes an attempt of giving voice to children who are abused and violated in a society where their pain is ignored or discounted. I find it interesting that she uses the fairy tales as a platform to offer this viewpoint.
This weeks' assignment to “Bettelheim” Anne Sexton's fairy tales was a challenge in bring two opposing views into agreement. The article, “The Uses of Enchantment” I found Bettelheim's concept that fairy tales are the manna for a child's emotional well- being as questionable. For all of his lofty claims, the children to whom Bettelheim references occupy a small percentage of the population. Was Bettelheim suggesting that children with special needs had NOT read the fairy tales? If so, does it follow that if they have problems it's because of poor parenting?

I was very disappointed in the manner in which Bettelheim treated those who were opposed to his viewpoint. He referred to them only to discount them; I would love to see a rebuttal to Bettelheim's theory.

It was difficult at first to find a commonality between Sexton and Bettelheim. The manner in which Bettelheim outlines the virtues of traditional fairy tales and Sexton rewrite of them positions them as being juxtaposed, thereby taking any of Sexton's fairy tales awkward at best, but I may have found something common between them. They both acknowledge that children are aware of the pain, fear and contradictions of life. Bettelheim writes, “However, the prevalent parental belief is that a child must be diverted from what troubles him most: his formless, nameless anxieties and his chaotic, angry, and ever violent fantasies.” I think Sexton's retelling of the fairy tales makes an attempt of giving voice to children who are abused and violated in a society where their pain is ignored or discounted. I find it interesting that she uses the fairy tales as a platform to offer this viewpoint.


She killed the fairytale!
Name: angela joy
Date: //2004-09-16 08:23:19 :
Link to this Comment: 10850

May I just say here and now that I do not know enough about Marxism to read Sexton's "Transformations" from that point of view. I could try to bluff my way through it, but I'd know it was B.S. and so would you.

What occurred to me when reading Bettelheim's work was that his definition of a fairytale, if I have it right- a tale of the ordinary made extraordinary, which leaves the reader with a feeling of optimism- does not fit Anne Sexton's "transformation" of Briar Rose, which went from being a "happily ever after" tale to a living nightmare of insomnia and paranoia. Sexton's revision of the tale made it seem more like Bettelheim's idea of a myth in that it is pessimistic, although it does not necessarily meet the standard of grandiosity that he insists a myth must have.

I think Bettelheim is too pre-occupied with finding oedipal themes in fairytales. The idea that a little girl might see her father as the "prince", or that a little boy might want to kill a literal or figurative dragon in order to wow his mother just seems, for lack of a better work, icky.

Still, I respect his efforts to explain the significance of fairytales, whether I agree with all of them or not. Cut the man some slack, he's just trying to help.


In defense of ...
Name: Andrylyn P
Date: //2004-09-16 11:13:43 :
Link to this Comment: 10851

Even though I must agree that at times Bettelheim seems a little dramatic, which therapist doesn't, it would be well worth remembering the title. The Uses of Enchantment. That is precisely what he wants us to see. Fairy Tales have survived because they have some function. Perhaps we might not agree that fairy tales should be read to our children; I have never considered reading them to my son. what is true is that there is some logic to what Bettelheim has to say about the nature or the characteristics of fairy tales.
1. They do present both good and evil- (isn’t this what we want to teach our children?-both good and bad things happen to people.
2. Evil seems attractive- it does- do you think as much as we tell them that evil is bad, it loses it attractive nature to children? In fact, it is, at times, only through threatened consequences, that we are able to keep children away from wrong-doing. How often do kids seem confused at the duality of what we tell them is true and what they see happening around them-life?
3. The evil-doer is punished, the hero wins.- Perhaps this is the part that I struggle with in fairy tales, and this is why I appreciate Anne Sexton.
4. Most importantly there is a struggle in order to triumph. It is this identification of an element that is important to a child that I am most concerned with. “the child makes such identifications on his own”. This is the same struggle that we point out when we tell our children about getting good grades and excelling on school, even though it may be difficult. The same reason that we want them to engage in sports, the same reason we ask them to join in when we sing We shall Overcome. Perhaps the same reason we tell them that if they are good all year round, even though it might be difficult to do the right thing (struggle) that Santa Claus will bring them gifts, they will go to heaven with Jesus – too many to list. The differences with some of the examples that I have listed and fairy tales is that fairy tales give our children some credit- they are able to pick up on implied messages- imagine that!!! Imagine something else – Imagine a child that is able to sort something out in his own mind, without being told, imagine the pride.
I do not think that if Bettleheim were in a room with us he would say that Fairy tales are what we should read to children, that our parental responsibilities for the psychological development of our children are fulfilled by Fairy tales. I imagine that he would say the opposite. He would say that they serve a function much in the same way that symbols that we embrace in our society do.
p.s. Most of “the Greats” were disturbed. Does that make the contributions that they have made to us, being products of several “traditions”, any less significant? Who is really living in a Fairy tale?
.


on what's assailable...and useful?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-16 23:53:41 :
Link to this Comment: 10855

I wanted to record here the reference to "Religion as Conversation-Stopper," which I mentioned in class today; you can find it in Richard Rorty's 1999 Philosophy and Social Hope.

I also promised you 3 web pages about art, its "revisability" and its "assailability"--which you may find useful extensions not only of our earlier discussion about Reading a Picture, but of today's discussion of what it's possible and useful for us to discuss together as a group in an "academic" setting:

Watercolors of Sharon Burgmayer

"Something Quite Different From Dialogue": The Accessibility and Assailability of Pictures, or How Art Works on Us

On Friendship and the Power to Change: A Conversation in Images


another homework assignment
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-14 17:38:35 :
Link to this Comment: 10840

...to try your hand not only @ "Bettelheimizing" Sexton's poems, but also @ readings that focus on questions of class...how would a Marxist read some of her tales? Is the psychological the only "way in" (and out?!)


fairy tales or truth...
Name: Samantha
Date: //2004-09-14 20:22:34 :
Link to this Comment: 10841

--What do you think of fairy tales? In comparison with the "truth that is taught by life"?

Fairy tales as we have been reading them serve some purpose for some people. I say this because while it may be true that fairy tales tell us "good" from "bad" or act as a way to validate children's feelings, it assumes that all children come from the same background and that all children will derive the same meaning of the story. I much more agree with Truth being taught by life--one's personal experience.

I think and feel that some of the messages in "traditional" fairy tales, these western traditions tales, can be lost on those who have nothing in their lives that relate with the story. Perhaps that is why some of us gritted our teeth when discussing the usefulness of fairy tales.


truth and character types
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-14 07:57:22 :
Link to this Comment: 10837

And now a choice of questions from your good fairy (or wicked stepmother?)

Friedrich Schiller wrote

Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life.

What do you think of fairy tales? In comparison with the "truth that is taught by life"?

And/or: did you include a fairy god-mother, prince, witch, or wizard in your fairy tale? (Why do you think such character types are used so frequently in fairy tales? Can a story be a fairy tale w/out this sort of figure in it? (Is it somehow defining of what constitutes a fairytale?) What is the function of such figures?


No fairy godmother?
Name: Angela Joy
Date: //2004-09-08 13:04:16 :
Link to this Comment: 10802

I like this German version of Cinderella. She took better care of herself than the Cinderella of previous versions I have read. I like the way she prayed at her mother's grave rather than just weeping in the garden only to be surprised by a fairly. I also like the way she left the ball on her own timetable- none of this "your coach will turn to a pumpkin at midnight" business. She knows how to ask for help when she needs it (the pigeons), and she'd not at all adverse to climbing trees when necessary. I like this girl.

The Briar Rose tale was much like the ones I had read before, but had a disappointing element to it. The prince seems no hero, but a lucky guy who happened to show up on the right day. The Disney prince was better- he fought a dragon. True, he had little fairy women to help him, but still, that was quite a formidable dragon. This one in the story just walked right in and kissed the girl. Big deal.

Yeh Shen was the most entertaining, as I had never read it before. Again, I like this girl because she is a victim but not entirely helpless. She sought out help from her friend the fish and she went to retrieve her slipper herself. I also love the closing line about how the stepmother and stepsister may have perished. "But no one really cared." The terseness makes me smile.

Anne Sexton's takes on Cinderella and Briar Rose are disturbing to me. I'm sure they're meant to be. Cinderella wasn't so different from the Grimm version, really. It stayed very faithful to that story with only a few sardonic little comments thrown in- "Regular Bobbsey Twins", etc. Briar Rose, however, was like someone else's personal nightmare. What did Anne Sexton's father do to her, I wonder? All of a sudden the Sleeping Beauty tale is about incest? Lovely thing to read in the morning over a cup of tea... that certainly was a parallel I never drew in that story. I wonder where that came from.

I am curious to read the rest of Transformations now- but not first thing in the morning and not right before bed.


Has the "shoe" become too small for the contempora
Name: Patricia W
Date: //2004-09-08 21:19:59 :
Link to this Comment: 10804

Buona Sera!

(bear with me, I'm taking Italian this semester)

I immediately started reading anne sexton's, "transformations" as soon as I found a comfortable place to sit. I must admit to being very tempted to jump in and explore, but chose against it in favor of starting at the beginning. Though sexton's style is droll and at times, bittingly caustic it reflected many of my personal opinions about "fairy tales" and were the reasons why I refused to read them to my daughters.

I found Angela's interpretations about the poems we were given for reading tomorrow to have been attempting to find something redeeming about them. I struggle to find it also.

I'm bristling! Then I calm down and remind myself that these "tales" were written in another time for another type of woman. However, I did note a number of similarities running through Briar Rose and Cinderella. Both carried an undercurrent of the female's affinity with nature/spiritual. In both stories the women were comforted by nature, or those who have passed to another dimension/plane. These women knew the answer did not lie with those around them. I find it interesting given the fact that men wrote these stories. What were they implying? That a women's lot in life was futile and stories were created were a better life awaited her? Or could it have been possible that they have been rewritten by women who are offering the only hope there was? (I know I'm reaching with this thought)

What really burns me up is the portrayal of the women as being totally hepless and simple-minded which sexton's rewrite critiques. But again . . . these were written for different women in a different time. The real question should be WHY are we STILL READING THIS CRAP TO OUR DAUGHTERS IN THIS WORLD AT THIS TIME?! Why are we setting such a fantasy of bull@#$% for them to waste precious brain cells on? I'm not an advocate for the burning of books, but these stories should have a warning label and forbidden to a young woman's impressionable mind until the appropriate age.

I am well aware that our world has not reached far enough for women to say it has successfully made the lot for women a better place and we have stepped farther than any other woman in history, but a lot of women today still harbor these fantasies as a better life.

I'm not sure if there is a place for "fairy tales" in the context they have been presented in the past and I'm not sure a "remake" for the modern woman would be successful at removing the stigma associated with them. I know the reality is these stories and other like them are here to stay. Many of these tales have achieved "literary" prominence and that alone will keep them around indefinitely.

Many women today (myself included) still have to push ourselves past the guilt of selflessness and giving until we're empty. Or we are self-loathing, casting aside or renoucing the value of our WOmanness. The legacy of our gifts and talents having been forged from suffering, violence and pain has been passed down and through a long line of brave, bold intelligent women. These are the stories we should telling our daughters in the bright sunlight as well as before they go to sleep.

Ciao!

Patrizia


more ways to scare women
Name: Samantha
Date: //2004-09-08 21:43:23 :
Link to this Comment: 10805

Patrizia-women have been told how to behave since day one :|

I am assuming a lot about who wrote these stories, but for example, the Brothers Grimm-why does it feel like the women of their stories are helpless, dumb in some way, deserving of their malfortunes? And then, we read in the story of Cinderella "for he wished to see who this beautiful maiden belonged to." I'm so frustrated by this notion! Perhaps I digress into my own feminist ideals...

Anne Sexton's take on the tales, particularly Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty) is disturbing. I feel like fairy tales are meant to scare you into following some prescribed rules and of the horrific consequence of not doing so. Almost in the same sense that morals are taught to you in the stories of the bible. Is the purpose of the fairy tale to entertain or to scare you?


I don't like fairy tales
Name: Annabella
Date: //2004-09-08 22:57:52 :
Link to this Comment: 10807

I don't care for fairy tales because they are so black and white. A very good young person, usually a child is downtrodden by more powerful evil people. Then by magic, the fairy godmother, the good one prevails and the evil ones are hung out to dry.
Grimm's were no exception to the rule. But I did like his versions better than the one's I heard as a child. I actually found his Cinderella to have some spunk, as did Yeh-Shen. These girls actually did something to better their situation. Yeh-Shen did it to restore her friendship with the fish, and Cinderella did it to save her own skin, but at least they took an active role in their fates.
Anne Sexton's take on these fairy tales was the worst I have ever seen. I didn't like much of anything she wrote. But one thing she did do was to illustrate how much of what we experience we bring to the experience we think we are experiencing outside of ourselves.
When I read something, I think I am taking in what is on the page. But in truth, everything that reaches me has to come through the filters already in place from my past, so that I am not really experiencing what I am reading at all, only my interpretation of it.
Fortunately for me, my filters are not nearly as viscious as Anne's. My heart goes out to her, and I would suggest some serious psychotherapy should she ever ask my advise. Though I feel for her in that it sounds like she had a dreadful childhood, she is an adult now, and is responsible for how she experiences life at this point. Blaming the parents only goes so far.
It could be she knows this, and chooses to not change her outlook seeing how the literary world seems quite enchanted with her work.
Which really makes me wonder what is up with that? Do we really want to reward someone who can take already misguided stories such as fairy tales and turn them into horrific nightmares? Is that really a talent to be lauded?
It could be argued that she brings them to life, in a dead kind of way. But I found it not even worth the effort I extended to read them. Her approach was so sick, I couldn't even really hear what she was trying to say other than, "I'm sick. Help me." The fairy tale part was lost on me.


Gag...Woman as victim, not agent. Do we really nee
Name: Kathleen
Date: //2004-09-09 07:27:46 :
Link to this Comment: 10808

Women sure do awful things to one another in fairy tales. Especially those damn step-mothers...It must be the most maligned job in children's literature.

I always wondered why Cinderella's father never did anything to help her. He cares enough about her to ask what sort of gift she's like for him to bring back for her, bur he doesn't notice or care that she's sleeping in fireplace ash???!!!!! I agree wih Patricia- these stories can be dangerous if they are swallowed unexamined by young folk.(I disagree with Samantha- all sorts of evidence exists that seems to suggest that women have not been brutally subjugated since the dawn of time... that it may even be a fairly new phenomemnon, developing during the same as agriculture and animal "husbandry".)
Thinking of this reminds me of Patricia's remarks about women and nature. Nature and woman- both wild, both requiring some sort of taming, some sort of pruning in patriarchy...
Yen-Shen reminded me of the section of Andrea Dworkin's book Woman-Hating that describes (in plain horific language) what having one's feet bound would actually consist of, feel like. Footbinding is a really a type of gynocide.
The only thing that I liked about the fairy tales in our binder was that the wise women were actually referred to as wise women in Briar Rose, instead of witches, which is what they are usually called. I like the word witch, too, actually, but "wise woman" is more correct. "Witch": from wicca, "to bend", or from "fence sitter" (to sit on the fence between the worlds). This history of ours has almost been eradicated. That's what happens when you burn millions and millions of women in order to silence them and steal their property. Yet these fairy tales survive. With fresh new audiences every generation. Curious. Why do we keeping passing on this stuff? Nostalgia? Custom? Marketing and promotional tie-ins with McDonald's?

I usually like Anne Sexton, but I really didn't enjoy these poems very much. Must be my dislike of fairy tales....







Name: andia
Date: //2004-09-09 10:18:07 :
Link to this Comment: 10811

These fairy tales bothered me a little with their assumptions of royalty as somehow intrinsically good and noble. The king or prince as deserving the pick of the most comely damsels in the land and the most comely damsels in the land conceiving of no higher honour than to be the prince's bride.
And then there was the fixation with beauty. Cinderella was more beautiful than her sisters. In this one case, it was possible to make a connection between physical and spiritual beauty which was not present in any of the other stories.
In the Chinese fairy tale, the King was about to shoo off the ragged woman intent on trying on the shoe until he saw how beautiful she was. Only then did it occur to him that she could have been its owner. When she put on the pair of shoes, he was stupefied by her beauty and decided to marry her on the spot.
In Briar Rose only prices and miscellaneous nobles seem to have the gumption to try and cut their way through the forest of briars. Was no yeoman brave enought to attempt it? Did no peasant dream of the fabled beauty lying within? Of course no king would allow his daughter to marry a commoner but it would have been interesting to see Briar Rose's father turn away some rustic lad whose efforts had after all awakened them all from a century long slumber.
Of course I read these stories with a post feminist, post post modern sensibility. I doubt they were meant for people like me.


Fairy tales or life?
Name: Andrylyn P
Date: //2004-09-09 09:28:21 :
Link to this Comment: 10810

Very haunting, and so very familiar. I was not read fairy tales as a child. Perhaps my parents thought that they would confuse my perception of the real world. I mean there are no castles in Jamaica. I read them on my own later, still not convinced of the prince who would help me escape from my imagined world of terror, apparently I did not need fairy tales to create alternate worlds in my head.
Reading the German and even Asian American versions, I felt the same disconnection I felt as a child. Anne Sexton's versions were quite another story. Why had I not read them before?
Sorry ladies but I loved every minute of reading them. I was amazed at the manner in which she was able to extend a line between "that world" and the one in which we now live. Or is it (as I write) the other way around. It suggests a continuity that I find lacking in the other pieces. Yes so much pain comes through her words, her use of metaphors is at times sharp, well most times, and matter-of-fact. But I am struck by the strength of her voice. I wonder as I am learning to write and especially after my first draft how intentional that was.
I was more interested in her "commentary" in the pieces; especially in Red Riding Hood and then again in Briar Rose. I saw a questioning of the fairy tales we build in the lives we live. How deceptive appearances are, how we sometimes couch the unbearable in the sickeningly pleasant and "normal". The pieces made me question what type of story I plan to tell. What will be my emplottment


thinking about last Thursday
Name: The Revere
Date: //2004-09-20 16:53:49 :
Link to this Comment: 10889

I have continued to feel uncomfortable about what transpired on Thurs. for the past several days. It was wholly inappropriate of me to regale you all with my with inarticulate and half-formed thoughts about what I perceive to be spiritual truth, and I thank you all for not throwing drinks and/or rotten tomatoes in my face. I may have thrown a rotten tomato at myself had I been forced to listen to me. Luckily, I was so busy running my mouth that I didn't have time to listen to what I was saying!

I was thinking about all of this, and trying to sort out why I felt at that moment that it was okay, or appropriate, to talk about about something as personal as spirituality... and I think that maybe I have come to some conclusions about how that could have happened...

Thursday just felt like bedlam to me. I don't like when people raise their voices at one another. It makes me want to hide, really. To tell you the truth, that was why I took offense when Anne said I seemed ready to explode. Patricia and Andrlyn are practically shouting at one another, and I look ready to explode? Why, because my jaw is tense and I'm probably sighing loudly?
I didn't even understand what were really discussing. Bettelheim? Freud's theories? Educating children? Evil? Truth? We were invited to think about/do many things on the forum board. I didn't even understand what was happening, or why/how people were disagreeing. Things Fall Apart, indeed.

I think I got all upset because... well, like I said, I don't like when people seem to me to be arguing, and because...I don't view psychoanalysis as any sort of rigourous academic discipline- as I metioned in class, I think that it mostly offers individual solutions to collective problems. To my way of thinking, the Freudian models of childhood development and sexuality are so repugnant, so misguided, so full of erroneous understandings regarding what it is to be human, that I am unable to take them seriously. Which probably says a great deal more about me than about Freud's theories, most likely.

Bettelheim's stuff about childhood separation anxiety as normative, and especially his remarks about children needing to see the world in binary terms, and see the world reflected back to them in binary terms... well, I'd like to know what permits him to write about this as if it is as self-evident as say, our need to take in food and oxygen...I think it's hooey, and what's more, I think that's it's dangerous hooey.. Divinding the world into us and them, good vs. evil doesn't seem to have doen anyone a great deal of good over the past several millenia...

Anyhow, these are my feelings, and while I think it is cathartic and okay to talk about them here, in this more informal setting, I am hoping/and wishing that we can engage in different sorts of discussions in seminar.

For instance....If we were reading B's text in order to observe how an academic makes the move away from the text itself into the metalevel of theory, I think that it would have been most useful for us to have exmained HOW he did this...not why we think he was wrong, or right, to do this...

Maybe each of us could take turns spending 5 minutes each Thursday offering a careful characterization of the text or texts under consideration so that some groundwork could be laid for the ensuing discussions.... perhaps then we could discuss/dispute/engage with the text in such a way that we come away from feeling as if we have gotten something valuable from it, even if we disagree with its thesis.

Does it seem to anyone else that we are spending a great deal of time talking about feelings in class? Is this making anyone else besides me uncomfortable, or bored?


HOW he (we) "made the move"
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-20 19:06:46 :
Link to this Comment: 10891

Thanks, Kathleen, not only for 'thinking about last Thursday,' but also for thinking ahead to what sorts of productive conversations we might have together in the future, and how we might best prepare for them. I'll be mulling, too, a query for Thursday's class that will invite us to dig together into the text--but we need not wait til Thursday to do that. So bring along w/ you to class tomorrow not only your own assigned "analysis of a fairy tale," but also your packet w/ Bettelheim's analysis in it. We'll start class by looking @ HOW one or two of you made the move from "story" to "theory" (what's the difference?), then go back and see how Bettelheim did it, too....


Reading Fairy Tales
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2004-09-08 10:26:56 :
Link to this Comment: 10800

This week we're turning our attention from telling and listening to our individual stories of learning...

to looking at a range of what may? may not? be more archetypal--universal?--tales. Record here what thoughts arose, as you were reading

There are sure to be lots of stories generated by the intersection of all these stories....

and I'm very much looking forward to hearing them--

Anne


fairytales part in socialisation
Name: bec
Date: //2005-02-25 04:26:38 :
Link to this Comment: 13222

i am currently in yr 12 (australian) i am doing a major thesis on fairytales and the part they play in the socialistaion of you and me. i am particularly focusing on the evolution of cinderella. i am stuck. i personally believe that they are incredibly important in socialisation but not always necessary especially these days with mass media and globalisation. what does every one think about there role and particularly the part cinderrella plays for children and even adults today and even for the future and in the past. please help



Name:
Date: //2005-09-07 20:11:03 :
Link to this Comment: 16045

Both "Little Briar-Rose" and "Cinderella" portray two sweet-natured girls who live a life of misfortune, the former is condemned to one hundred years of sleep, and the latter is enslaved, treated like a rat, by her wicked step-mother and stepsisters. However, this is not "The End," and they leave miserably ever after, destroying the love of fairy tales for millions of children worldwide, like Anne Sexton did in "Transformations." Like any good fairy tale, in the end, both Briar- rose and Cinderella live "happily ever after." How touching! Don't get me wrong. Both stories are cute in that it brings out the inner child in me but frankly I like a little more spaz (is that the correct spelling?) in my fairy tales b/c once I read them they become my own; they become a part of who I am.

The Chinese version of "Cinderella" just broke my heart, tore it into pieces, Yeh-Shen's struggle against her heartless step-people (they haven't earned the title of "mother" or "sisters"), dealing with the lost of her only friend, the last drop of hope in her shattered world, a "lovely golden orange fish." Imagining little Yeh-Shen visiting the pond, admiring the golden fish, the fish flapping its fins, and Yeh-Shen bending down to feed it, sunk into my inner being. And I felt like someone stabbed a dagger right at the core of my heart when the stepmother viciously killed Yeh-Shen's only pal. So, when this little girl, found happiness in the end, I was sooo happy for her.

-THE END-