Sunday, April 29, 2012

Draft Essay

Jessica Hishman English 331 Folk & Fairy Tales Draft Essay

Fairy Tales: The Transformation from Oral Communication to Literature

“Naturally, the oral folk tales that were told in many different ways thousands of years ago preceded the literary narratives, but we are not certain who told the tales, why, and how. We do know, however, that scribes began writing down different kinds of tales that reflected an occupation with rituals, historical anecdotes, customs, startling events, miraculous transformations, and religious beliefs. The recording of these various tales was extremely important because the writers preserved an oral tradition for future generations, and in the act of recording, they changed the tales to a greater or lesser degree, depending on what their purpose was in recording them.” (Zipes 43)

Fairy Tales are rooted in an oral tradition that evolved into literary and visual stories. Oral Tradition refers to the verbal communication and is the way Fairy Tales were passed along in societies without writing. The literary Fairy Tale is one that is written down and is usually given credit to one author (some do have more than one). The author who wrote down the Fairy Tale is the one given credit even though the origin of the Oral Fairytales are impossible to pinpoint as they traveled around until someone chose to write it down.

When researching the Oral Tradition of Fairy Tales have to keep in mind the various distortions that run right alongside previous methods of documentation. In “Oral Tradition and Chronology” there is a mention of a phenomenon called “telescoping”. What happens is that some periods will drop out of the oral tradition completely resulting in the left over periods merging together. Henige mentions in “Oral Tradition and Chronology” on Kinglists, which is where telescoping can happen more often than not. If rulers created chaos, ruled for a short time or were “imposed by a foreign suzerain” these rulers were generally left out of the Kinglists. Telescoping can also occur when an epoch is compressed into one generation or under one ruler. Yet, the biggest error occurs from “faulty collective memories of the transmitters of the list”. (Henige) Another problem with Oral Tradition is that sometimes societies would lengthen rather than telescope which is where societies would add in rulers that never actually existed. The various methods of documentation, most prominent being Kinglists, cannot be fully trusted and must be cross examined with other documentation at the time.

“The only trustworthy kind of folk literature is that collected under conditions which give such information about the immediate informant as enables us to check his claim to be a bearer of oral tradition.” (Utley pg. 197) Many Fairy Tales were taken from their oral origin and translated into a literacy tale. This was done to preserve the tales, as Oral Tradition can die out more readily than literacy. Yet, with translating an oral Fairy Tale into a Literacy Tale we can see that there is a problem with giving due credit. “" One is not here concerned with ultimate origins-whether the story comes from Perrault’s Cinderella or Southey's Three Bears. Print is a contaminator, a reverser and freezer of versions, but it does not necessarily destroy the oral process, which is a very vigorous kind of growth.” (Utley pg. 198)

Fairy Tales were written down to both please society and others were written down as they were told. Fairy Tales began to transform on paper into a story that was intended to send a good message to children even though this was not the way the Fairy Tales were originally told. In “The Story of Grandmother” by Delarue there are some gruesome tellings that would be inappropriate for children. For example, the wolf in “The Story of Grandmother” not only killed Granny but “put some of her flesh in the pantry and a bottle of her blood on the shelf.” (Delarue) “Perrault removed those elements that would have shocked the society of his epoch with their cruelty.” (Introduction: Little Red Riding Hood 4) The Grimm’s tale of Little Red Riding Hood, named “Little Red Cap”, also erased some of the more inappropriate things found in Delarue’s “Story of Grandmother”. In Delarue’s “Story of Grandmother” there is a point in the story where Little Red Riding Hood has to remove all her clothing. This element is removed from The Grimm’s “Little Red Cap”.

As you can see, Delarue’s “Story of Grandmother” which is a version of “Little Red Riding Hood” is “presumably more faithful to an oral tradition predating Perrault, in part because the folklorist recording it was not invested in producing a highly literary book of manners for aristocratic children and worked hard to capture the exact working of the peasant raconteur, and in part because oral traditions are notoriously conservative and often preserve the flavor of narratives as they circulated centuries ago.” (Introduction: Little Red Riding Hood 3-4) Many Fairy Tales, once translated from an Oral retelling into literacy are transformed into the authors own version. Whether it be for personal pleasure, or to captivate an audience in an appropriate way, we can see how stories have been changed over the years.

Works Cited

Delarue, Paul. "Story of Grandmother." n.d. CUNY. 29 04 2012 .

Henige, David P. "Oral Tradition and Chronology." The Journal of African History, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1971): 371-389.

"Introduction: Little Red Riding Hood." n.d. CUNY. 29 04 2012 .

Utley, Francis Lee. "Folk Literature: An Operational Definition." The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 74, No. 293 (1961): 193-206.

Zipes, Jack. Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution And Relevance of a Genre. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hansel and Gretel

Jessica Hishman

English 331-01

Symbolic and Literal roles of Food in Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”

The tale of Hansel and Gretel is a German folktale that portrays food in both a literal and symbolic role. The tale begins with a family of four, the poor woodcutter, his wife and their two children, Hansel and Gretel. This family has come upon hard times and we can exactly how food plays a factor in the way this story turns out.

Hard times came upon this family and it was beginning to take a toll having to feed all four of them. Food was scare and splitting what the family had, between four people, was no longer an option. The absence of food, fear of starvation, is what drove the mother to force the woodcutter to leave the children in the woods.

When the children were forced out of their home (twice), they were given bread to help them along the way. Bread is a staple and is shown as a poor family’s food as it is not that expensive and can be easily made. Bread, being a staple, is also a life-sustaining food and in the case of Hansel and Gretel was a hope to return home. “On the way, Hansel crumbled his piece in his pocket, then often stood still, and threw crumbs onto the ground.” (Grimm) Hansel believed that this would lead them home but during the night, the birds had eaten the breadcrumbs leaving no path.

The next example of food playing a literal and symbolic role is when the children find the house “built entirely from bread with a roof made of cake, and the windows were made of clear sugar.” (Grimm) This house is made of both bread and cake. If you look at bread and cake side by side, bread is quite plain and cake is much more elaborate. Cake, being more expensive, is not a normal staple in poor family’s diets. Cake is a symbol of feasting and celebration. Sugar, is just as much of a luxury as cake to a poor family. Using these types of food, the witch can easily lure children in, as sugar is a temptation to anyone who does not get to experience it often.

Once the witch is able to lure the children into her home using the house made of sweets, she provides them with a full meal. Giving the children a full meal is a symbol of generosity and comfort to Hansel and Gretel, who had been thrown out of their own home for not having enough food. Unfortunately, the witch threw Hansel into a cage and food was given to Hansel to fatten him up.

Food was given an extensive role both symbolically and literally in Hansel and Gretel. Food was used in Hansel and Gretel to represent an idea of comfort and hope. Food as also used to represent ideas of cannibalism (the witch) as well as fear (of starvation with the mother). Many Fairytales give food a symbolic and literal role and Hansel and Gretel is no exception.

Works Cited Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Hansel and Grettel. 2000-2002. 20 04 2011 .

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Perrault and Grimm LRRH

I would say that in both of these stories that LRRH's ignorance of the dangers of a wolf is to blame for her downfall.

In the Grimm story LRRH told the wolf where her grandmother lived. The wolf suggested that LRRH check out the flowers as they were so beautiful. LRRH thought it would be nice to bring her grandmother some flowers as well so she proceeded to pick some while the wolf was able to run to grandmothers house and eat her up.

In the Perrault version of the story LRRH, once again, told the wolf exactly where her grandmother lived. The wolf suggested that they each take different routes and see who got to grandmother first. LRRH went the long way and picked up nuts and berries along the way. This gave the wolf time to run to grandmothers and eat her all up.

Perrault, Charles. "Little Red Riding Hood." Pitt. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar 2012.
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. "Little Red Riding Hood." Pitt. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar 2012.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Disney and his life.

I do not think Disney ruined the Fairy Tale but I do believe that he monopolized the market and that many Fairy Tales are now associated with the name of Walt Disney.

Fairy Tales first started orally. They were spoken to a group or a tribe of people. After that, Fairy Tales were written down and became literary Fairy Tales. We read a few things in the past couple week about oral and literary Tales and how unreliable these methods can be.

Someone may have spoken a Fairy Tale before someone wrote it down but the person whom wrote it down was usually given credit. This does not mean that people did not create spin-offs of Fairy Tales, which is what I believe that Walt Disney did. He created spin-offs of Fairy Tales to captivate audiences on screen.
Zipes did bring up the point in which "In the case of Walt Disney, has signed his name prominently on the screen. In fact for a long time, Disney did not give credit to the artists and technicians who worked on his films." (342) This, I believe, is why people so closely connect Fairy Tales with Walk Disney. His name is on every movie that was made so people automatically think "Disney" when speaking about "Snow White" or some other Fairy Tale.

In this reading there is no real image of womanhood but instead of manhood. Disney takes on material from his own life and places it into some of his Fairy Tale spin-offs. 

Works Cited

Zipes, Jack. "Breaking the Disney Spell." Zipes, Jack. Breaking the Disney. n.d. 332-352.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fairy Tales and Ideals They Portray to Children

A take on Marica R. Liebermans ““Some Day My Prince Will Come”: Female Acculturation Through the Fairy Tale”

In order to begin to understand “Female Acculturation through the Fairytale” by Marcia R. Lieberman an understanding of the work “acculturation” is necessary. According to Merriam’s Dictionary, acculturation is defined as “cultural modification of an individual by adapting to or borrowing traits from another.” Or Alternatively, “the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy” (Merriam-Webster Online) Fairytales have “classical attributes” associated with females that give us the distinct possibility of having these traits acculturate the female from early stages of life.
Fairytales give children the impression that beauty is a girl’s most valuable asset. In almost all Fairytales, the main female characters are usually beautiful and well mannered. Beauty is something that all women worry and deal with. We see images of beauty everyday as adults and looking into Fairytales the same goes true for when we are children. In respect to Fairytales the beautiful women the one who ends up with the “happily ever after”. “They always want to know how things will “turn out”” (Lieberman 384) If we look at Snow White, Snow White is beautiful so much so that the huntsman cannot kill her, the dwarves take her into their care, and the prince wants her because of her beauty. One of the men saved her by accident, by hitting her back, which caused the apple piece to fall out. In the end, she ends up with the prince and with her “happily ever after”. 
“Anxiety, inadequacy and inferiority amongst women is psychologically proven to be caused by a fear of homeliness.” (Lieberman 385) The beautiful girl is the one who the prince chooses. She does not have to do very much to be chosen either. Snow White was lying in a coffin when the Prince chose her. Cinderella was cleaning but was chosen by the prince. The Fairy Tale women that the price chooses always described as being both beautiful and well mannered. “There are no examples of cross-pattern, that is, of plain good tempered girls.” (Lieberman 385)
Beauty tends to follow right alongside of passive roles. Many of the women in these tales are locked up in towers, guarded by dragons, etc. Cinderella never tries to leave her family even though they treat her badly. Even when she meets the prince and gives him the slipper, she still waits for him to arrive. Snow White never tried to get revenge on her mother; she just waited with the dwarfs until her mother came to try to kill her three times. These stories are ones in which “children learn that suffering goodness can afford to remain meek, and need not and perhaps should not strive to defend itself” (Lieberman 390) as when the women in Fairy Tales are passive someone comes to their rescue.
The fairytales that children are told are meant to be heartwarming stories about princesses and princes, heroes and heroics; stories that help encourage imagination. When parents read these stories to their children, they do not think about the other effects that Fairytales can have on their children. As you can see, when we took a closer look into several Fairytales, such as Cinderella or Snow White, we can see examples of how Fairytales can affect people from early stages of life. Just as we see images of the “ideal” beauty in everyday situations, we see these ideals of beauty portrayed in childhood Fairy Tales.

Works Cited

Lieberman, Marcia R. "Some Day My Prince Will Come; Female Acculturation through the Fairy Tale." College English (1972): 383-395.
"Merriam-Webster Online." An Encyclopedia Britannica Company. 20 February 2012.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oral or Written and How both can be altered.

Henige mentions in “Oral Tradition and Chronology” on Kinglists, which is where telescoping can happen more often than not. If rulers created chaos, ruled for a short time or were “imposed by a foreign suzerain” these rulers were generally left out of the Kinglists.  Telescoping can also occur when an epoch is compressed into one generation or under one ruler. Yet, the biggest error occurs from “faulty collective memories of the transmitters of the list”. (Henige)

In "Folk Literature: An Operational Definition" there is mention of "One more problem of rigor. How far can we trust John Jones himself?" (Utley) This makes me think on how can we really trust any spoken word?

Henige, David P. "Oral Tradition and hronology." The Journal of African History, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1971): 371-389.

Utley, Francis Lee. "Folk Literature: An Operational Definition." The Journal of Americal Folklore, Vol. 74, No. 293 (1961): 193-206.