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«PERRAULT and BEYOND Simone Monnier Clay, Ph.D. Simone Monnier Clay Ph.D. © 1999 CHAPTERS Chapter I General Information. p. 3 Chapter II Same Story, ...»

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Simone Monnier Clay, Ph.D.

Simone Monnier Clay Ph.D.

© 1999


Chapter I General Information ……………………………………. p. 3

Chapter II Same Story, Various Interpretations …………………... p. 25

Chapter III The Adaptation of Fairy Tales to Various Art Forms …. p. 35

Chapter IV Family in Tales and Fairy Tales ………………………. p. 54

Chapter V Girls in Tales and Fairy Tales …………………………. p. 68 Chapter VI Boys and Young Men in Tales and Fairy Tales ………. p. 77 Chapter VII Power, Villains and Monsters in Tales and Fairy Tales. p. 93 Chapter VIII Love and Food in Tales and Fairy Tales …………….. p. 107 Chapter IX Magic in Tales and Fairy Tales ……………………….. p. 119 Chapter X Hollywood and the Retelling of Tales and Legends ….. p. 131 CHAPTER I General Information http://www.yahoo.com "When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking."

~Albert Einstein~ (1879-1955) As a child you were told fairy tales, you read fairy tales and watched their adaptation to the screen.

Tales originate as narrated stories, and sometimes the storyteller places himself within the narration.

Many tales come from the oral tradition; they have been told and retold along the centuries. They have been relayed to adults as well as children because they deal with every aspect of life, human beliefs, the good and the bad. They inform and influence our beliefs as much as they amuse as they take us to imaginative journeys and to worlds, which may seem familiar but are filled with heroes, monsters, magic and fantasy1.

FOLK TALE (or FOLK STORY): A folk tale originates as a tale or legend that is part of the oral tradition of the common people. It is also any story stemming from people’s superstitions. The original authors of folk tales are anonymous but the tales often relate to specific people, areas or events.

FAIRY TALE: Just as the folk tale, the fairy tale can be traced to the oral tradition of the common people and its original authors are anonymous. Fairy tales are multicultural and variants of a tale can be found in various countries (for example, apparently, there are about 500 versions of Cinderella.) Tales have been collected since the 17th Century to be recorded and, eventually, adapted.

Imagination in stories and tales: Imagination stems from the ability to create situations that may not have been previously experienced in the same manner.

Fantasy: Fantasy is the incorporation of magic and other elements separated from consensus reality in order to develop a plot or setting. It allows for supernatural intervention in an illusory world.

The name, fairy tale, originates with the women writers of the French Salons who dubbed their tales "contes de fées." The term was then translated into English as ‘fairy tales’ and became broadly used due to the attractiveness of the French tales. In fact, it began to define the type of stories collected by Perrault, the Grimm brothers and those written by Hans Christian Andersen. However, it must be stressed that fairies are not always part of a fairy tale.

Children literature: Fairy tales fascinate children, and they are a valuable genre in children’s literature. They originated as part of an oral tradition meant to teach lessons to children, in values, behavior and social expectations, but they also develop imagination because of the element of fantasy they contain.


LITERARY TALE: A literary tale is the work of a known author. In style, it is similar to that of a fairy tale such as with “Beauty and the Beast”, written by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (1695-1755), and published in La jeune amériquaine et les contes marins in 1740. This tale was later retold in 1767, in an abridged version, by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont (1711MYTH: Muthologia is the telling of stories dating to antiquity (Plato was the first to use this word.) Muthos refers to a "thing said” or a “story”; muthos became differentiated from logos (word) early on, even before the time of Plato.

The purpose of the myth was to explain mysteries. A myth is a sacred story that deals with the gods of antiquity and with heroes.

Myths were generated in every culture. The ancient myths of the Far-East, the Middle-East, Greece and Rome continue to capture our imagination as well as the old Celtic myths (which include the gods and goddesses of ancient Gaul, Britain, Wales and Ireland.) SCIENCE FICTION: In The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, Amelia A. Rutledge states that “science fiction and the fairy tale both deal with situations that are contrary to fact.” However, even if both depend greatly on imagination while they try to introduce inner logic to the plot, there are differences between the two genres.

A tale or fantasy transports the mind to a world filled with magic – a world that does not seem believable. There is no link between the time-period of the story and our present and we remain aware that magic and the supernatural do not work in our world.

Science fiction introduces super-natural phenomenon that take place in our own world. There always seems to be a plausible path between our world and the science-fiction story. It involves scientific changes that become believable, as we get involved with the story.


Fairy tales have had a lasting influence upon the modern literary fantastic and the film industry. The modern fantastic blends the elements of science fiction with the fantasy of fairy tales.


The themes developed in fairy tales - as well as folk tales - fall into several categories:

1. The purpose of some tales is to offer an explanation of some custom or phenomenon or to offer a lesson, which corresponds to the beliefs of a particular culture.

2. Tales address common human themes. They suggest solutions as well as potential paths to follow in order to win happiness.

How a tale is told is relevant to its geographical and cultural origin, its chronological period as well as the beliefs of the teller.

3. Some tales symbolize the struggle between good and evil. They introduce heroes and heroines who fight against evil and are expected to succeed in their quests. These characters are developed in apposition to others who are weak or evil. And, should the hero not be perfect at the beginning of a tale, during the plot, he undergoes transformations thanks to magical intervention.


The structure of tales:

- Fairy tales are based on simple, direct plots that occurred in an undefined past.

- Conflict and resolution: It is the story of a hero who is inspired, by an event or a feeling, to go on an adventure to find love, power, money or a remedy… In the process, he has to overcome a number of obstacles.

The narration responds to the following questions: Who? What? Why? For what purpose? What is the goal? Through what mean? To whose advantage? Thanks to whom or what? In spite of whom or what?

- Tales include symbolic literary elements as well as superstitions of the common people.

- Some tales introduce a repetitive action that builds into a culmination. (Repetitions sustain attention and are often found in series of three.)

-Specific numbers and/or patterns appear in fairy tales to provide rhythm and suspense.

For example, the number three has been considered powerful in several cultures and religions: The Trinity in Christianity, the Chinese Triad (man, heaven, earth) or the Buddhists’ Triple Jewel (Buddha, Dharma, Sanga). The Greeks had the Three Fates. Pythagoras considered three to be the perfect number because it represented the beginning, the middle, and the end.)

- The conflict is usually resolved soon after the climax of the story. The development of most tales includes some wondrous element. The ending is usually positive and teaches a lesson.

The basic elements in a tale are:

- Tales seem realistic even though they are based on fantasy.

- The setting (an undefined time or place).

- The plot, (with obstacles to overcome).

- The assistance of magic.

- Good has to overcome obstacles set by evil.

- There are wishes that come true, spells to overcome, adventures.

- In modern fairy tales, stories are updated, violence is somewhat removed and we find mostly happy endings.

The characters:

They are characterized according to the role they play in the story.

- The characters usually have no specific names (although some names have been assigned by Hollywood),

- The family unit is often represented by a king and a queen (representing the world of adults,) princes and princesses (representing a group that needs to mature, and the royal family lives in a castle).

- There is a brave hero and a beautiful heroine and sometimes a mean stepmother.

- Animals are personified and can transform themselves into humans.

- There are mystical, magical beings, a fairy [a sort of guardian angel] or a witch [an evil person], and there are magical objects.

- There can be a villain, a hungry ogre, a demon, a beast or some supernatural being.

- There are often folkloric characters such as goblins, elves, trolls, giants, dragons, unicorns, etc.

- Characters often come in threes or sevens: “Three Bears:” “Three Little Pigs:” “Snow White and the seven Dwarfs;” “The Seven Princesses” etc.

Fairy tales make use of special beginning and/or ending words such as:

- ‘Once upon a time’... (beginning).

- They usually took place ‘long ago’ (setting).

- and the people ‘lived happily ever after’ (ending).

–  –  –


The best-known collectors of fairy tales are: Charles Perrault in France, The Grimm brothers in Germany and Hans Christian Andersen in Denmark. A large number of folklorists emerged during the twentieth century. Their purpose was to preserve the oral traditions of a variety of cultures. These authors traveled, and settled, among a variety of cultures in order to hear stories that they could integrate into the world’s body of literature.

Then, - as they gathered tales from various storytellers – they modified, embellished, and even combined stories.

The fairy tale became particularly popular in France, during the seventeenth century. Then, women writers introduced their collections of fairy tales in the French Salons. The most prolific writer was Marie-Catherine D'Aulnoy. However, at that time, fairy tales were meant for an adult audience.

During the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, the fairy tale became associated to children literature although an increasing amount of authors gathered tales from various cultures.

–  –  –


100-200 C.E.

Apuleius writes the myth, Cupid and Psyche, and he includes it in his Metamorphoses (also known as The Golden Ass). It is considered by some scholars to be the first literary fairy tale. It is very similar to Beauty and the Beast.

200-300 C.E.

The Panchatantra. Tales recorded in India considered to be forerunners to some European fairy tales.

Circa 1500 Recording of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

1550 and 1553 In Italy, Gianfrancesco Straparola publishes two volumes of tales: Le Piacevoli Notti or (The Pleasant Nights or The Facetious Nights) and The Delightful Nights.

1634 to 1636 In Italy, Giambattista Basile writes Il Pentamerone, (or, Lo cunto de le cunti [The Tale of Tales]).

1690-1710 In France, women writers introduce their collections of fairy tales in the French Salons. The most prolific is Marie-Catherine D'Aulnoy.

In France, Charles Perrault writes Histoires ou Contes du temps passé (or Contes de ma Mère l’Oye. [Mother Goose Tales]).

In Great Britain, Robert Samber translates into English Perrault's stories.

In France, Gabrielle de Villeneuve writes an adult version of Beauty and the Beast.

Following the example of Gabrielle de Villeneuve, Madame de Beaumont publishes her own shorter version of Beauty and the Beast for children.

1812 and 1815 In Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm publish two volumes of Kinder und Hausmarchen (Childhood and Household Tales).

In Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen publishes his Fairy Tales Told for Children. Most of his tales are original works, but stem from traditional folklore (The Wild Swans and The Princess on the Pea.) In Russia, Aleksandr Afanasyev collects his first volume of Russian fairy tales.

In France, Gustave Doré illustrates Perrault's fairy tales.

In England, Andrew Lang publishes The Blue Fairy Book, the first of his twelve fairy books.

In England, Joseph Jacobs starts publishing a series of fairy tales: English Fairy Tales, followed by More English Fairy Tales, Celtic Fairy Tales, Indian Fairy Tales, and European Folk and Fairy Tales.

In England, Marian Roalfe Cox publishes a book titled: Cinderella: Three Hundred and Forty-five Variants of Cinderella, Catskin, and Cap O' Rushes.

In Germany, Engelbert Humperdinck adapts Hansel und Gretel (Hansel and Gretel) to the opera.

The libretto was written by Adelheid Wette.

In the United States, Walt Disney releases, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Because of its success, the film leads to the creation of several more Disney fairy tale adaptations.

In Russia, Sergei Prokofiev sets Cinderella to ballet music.

In France, release of Jean Cocteau's film, La Belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast).

In the United States, Bruno Bettelheim (from Vienna), publishes a psychological analysis of the relationship between children and fairy tales: The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.

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