Dictionary.com defines a fairytale as “a story about fairies; told to amuse children.” While these two points can be considered as characteristics of fairytales, to use this as a definition is an oversimplification of the genre. Certainly, fairytales contain elements of fantasy, such as fairies. Zipes defines fairytales as “narratives of magic and fantasy, which are understood to be fictional” (167). Also, these stories are often aimed at children, encouraging them to use their imaginations. However, fairytales also have political undertones woven throughout the narratives.

From Straparola to d’Aulnoy, fairytales have many political aims. Both authors, along with Bocaccio, have a tale which on the surface is about a prince who has the unfortunate characteristic of being a pig, but is really a story which mocks court systems. This politicization of fairytales even continues into more modern stories such as L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz,” an allegory in favor of populism.

Fairytales are also largely aimed at presenting the ideal characteristics of what a man and a woman should be, called “civilité.” These stories were aimed at the lower classes to encourage them to better themselves for political reasons.

Overall, a fairytale is a story with fantasy elements, aimed at children and adults alike, to encourage personal growth and betterment, and which often contains a political message.

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