In the music video “Sonne” by Rammstein, the band puts forth a plotline similar to that of the fairytale “Snow White.” The plot of the video follows the basic outline of the story. It begins with the dwarves working in a mine, as they do in the story and Snow White lives with them in a house in the forest. Also, certain details like the glass coffin being placed on the mountain remain true to the original tale.

                The main differences between the video and the fairytale are in the characterization of Snow White. Whereas Snow White in the Grimm brothers’ fairytale is very innocent, the portrayal of Snow White in the Rammstein video is anything but innocent. The character more resembles Ke$ha than a fairytale princess. She mistreats the dwarves, forcing them to mine gold (which she snorts like a drug), hits them, and even spanks them.

                However, similar to the fairytale, Snow White plays a large part in her own destruction. Although there is no outside force such as a wicked queen out to get her, in the Grimm brothers’ fairytale Snow White’s own naiveness, and willingness to eat the apple, as well as try on the bodice and the comb, that ultimately did her in. The Rammstein version of Snow White overdoses on drugs (which are portrayed as gold).

                I thought that the costuming of Snow White, in the music video, was particularly interesting. Her outfit is remarkably similar to the outfit the Disney version of Snow White wears! I don’t know whether the band did this to make the character recognizable to an audience which has probably seen the Disney movie, or if it is a commentary on the company, but I found it amusing and easy to pick up on.

 

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Like other fairy tales, there are many different versions of the basic tale of “Beauty and the Beast.” While the Disney movie is typically what comes to the minds of most people when they hear that title, there is so much more literature on the topic than people are aware, and a lot of the stories have huge differences among them.

In Straparola’s “The Pig King,” a beastly, royal pig searches for a bride. He ends up cycling through a set of three sisters before finally finding acceptance with the youngest one. Because she accepts him and his love despite his appearance, he reveals to her his truly handsome self, and they are able to live a happy life together.

Roman mythology has a tale that is somewhat similar to “The Pig King” in the story of Cupid and Psyche’s romance. In the story, people praise Psyche because of her beauty, and Venus, Cupid’s mother becomes jealous, ordering Cupid to destroy Psyche’s reputation. Because Psyche is cursed, men still admire her beauty, but none want to marry her. Psyche ends up married to Cupid, who will not reveal himself to her, so she believes him to be a monster.

The fact that Psyche cannot actually see Cupid is a critical difference between the tales. In the other versions of the story, the beauty can see that the beast is physically unattractive, whereas Psyche is burdened with not knowing whether or not her husband is a “monster.” This causes Psyche to try to see her husband physically. When she sees his attractiveness, he leaves and she laments losing him. Unlike the beauties of other tales, Psyche judges people based on appearance.

Psyche, like the beauty in “The Pig King,” has two sisters. Like the sisters in other versions, they are afraid of the monster they believe exists. However, they are never married to the beastly character. When they discover that Cupid is beautiful, and he has left Psyche, they clamor to be with him despite the fact that they are both married already. Similarly to the sisters of other tales, these two meet their doom because of their actions.

However, like fairytales, the Cupid and Psyche myth ultimately ends happily. Psyche must atone for her mistakes, Cupid rescues her, and they live happily ever after just as all princess-like characters do.

Assignment of the week: Survive like a million hours of work-shopping and sorority recruitment, and don’t forget to do the blog which is due on bid day by nine o’clock. Now that the day has settled down, and we’re hanging out doing the homework that no one, including our beautiful new pledge class, has gotten to all week I can finally relax and blog.

As soon as I saw this cartoon I cracked up! This was probably not an appropriate reaction, given the serious undertones of the cartoon, but it reminded me of “The Far Side” and it was funny so I did anyway. It so accurately captures the sexual undertones of Little Red Riding Hood and brings it into the modern age. During the time that the Little Red Cap lore came to be, no one could have imagined computers at all, let alone how people would use them in a way that was sexually predatory.

The social commentary in this cartoon is pretty apparent, but it’s a pretty sad commentary on how dangerous our society has become to children. While Little Red Cap certainly had to worry about sexual predators, children today even have to worry about them in places where they feel safe. The false sense of security that children have on the internet is certainly a contributing factor to these problems, much like Little Red’s overconfidence in the woods.

Overall, the cartoon really captures the contrast between the sexual predators of the 19th century and those of today. The author is able to effectively capture the essence of the original story and make it modern, through his incorporation of technology.

Like many types of stories, fairytales typically have a deeper meaning. Often, this meaning is of psychological significance. Psychologists Freud and Jung offer differing opinions on the psychological make-up of a person’s brain, and how it functions, leading to differing interpretations in the psychological undertones of fairytales.

                Jung believed in a “collective unconscious,” or a series of memories and experiences that are shared by the human race. This phenomenon is used to explain the similarities among fairytales and stories across many different cultures. Because people share experiences, it follows that they have similar stories.

                Fairytales also contain archetypes, which the unconscious associates with certain things. For instance, a wise old man triggers the unconscious to be reminded of older people who offer advice, and is often a god-like figure in stories.

                Because fairytales often have heroes, they can include an archetypal hero’s journey. In these journeys, heroes often have a difficult birth or childhood and have to find some way to triumph and fulfill their destinies.

                The psychological undertones of fairytales, cause people to interpret them in certain ways. Because of the way the brain makes associations, people can pick up deeper meanings in fairytales, than merely the story on the surface.

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.

When we found out the Honors electives for the 2011-2012 school year, fairytales immediately stood out to me. As a kid I always loved to read, and my parents were the kind of parents who made a big deal out of story time. My Dad even read me a few stories from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. However, being a child of the nineties, I was a Disney kid from birth. Beauty and the Beast came out the year I was born and, as a result, Belle became my instant favorite. She was simultaneously glamorous and intelligent, and she lived in an enchanted castle…her life was perfect! Plus, she was a brunette which made playing dress up a little easier.
As I grew older, I realized that the Disney-fied versions of my beloved fairytales were not the truest forms of these stories, but I was quite comfortable in my bubble until now. As I embark on this course, I would like to learn how the original fairytales came to be, and analyze their deeper meanings.