Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scary Fairy Tales

My kids seem to enjoy Hansel and Gretel. It is a great tale about sibling love, and why not to eat houses made of candy, a cautionary tale about the wisdom of using bread crumbs as trail markers. My children seem concerned about how long it takes the witch to arrive in the story. The names Hansel and Gretel are adorable. But this story really disturbs me, I think it is the scariest fairy tale of the lot.
In many fairy tales the children are parent-less - father and or mother are dead and the person left in charge of them isn't really related them and then leaves them unprotected in some manner. But not in Hansel and Gretel. They have two parents. (In some versions it is a step-mother but honestly I think those revisionists feel the same way about this story and want to soften the blow a little bit.)
So here is the scary part:
The MOTHER tells the FATHER that the children are dragging them down and they will all starve and convinces the FATHER to ABANDON them in the woods TWICE.
How does this not give every child a complex to think that parents will abandon them in the woods to likely be eaten by beasts, die from exposure or starvation if the going gets tough?
What kind of mother would let her children die to save herself?
What kind of father allows himself to be persuaded to abandon his children to certain death?

Scary stuff, scary stuff.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I have always hated that story except for imagining, as a child, what it would be like to be in a house made of candy...YUM!