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Mogan44
Registered User
(12/2/07 11:08 am)

Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
Hi Everyone!

I'm doing a presentation on Fate or destiny in Grimm's Fairy Tales. I was wondering if you could help me out with some ideas for it. This is for a German Romanticism class. Any thoughts are well appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(12/2/07 11:23 am)


Re: Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. The only tale I can think of is actually from one of Andrew Lang's collections, in which a young maiden is confronted by the goddess Fortune with her wheel, and asked whether she wants a happy youth or a happy old age. She asks for a happy old age, and Fortune spins her wheel and follows her from place to place, making her life a misery, until she finally ends up marrying the King. But as it's not a Grimm tale, I don't know which Lang collection it's from, and I don't know where Lang found it, that is completely unhelpful to you.

Mogan44
Registered User
(12/2/07 12:48 pm)


Re: Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
Thanks for your reply. I actually have picked out some Fairy Tales to use already. I have Cinderella, The Golden Goose and the Water of Life. I know what the fate/destiny/karma is in these tales, Cinderella is the neglected, abused child and her step sisters are evil and live a good life and karma or destiny at the end of the story is that Cinderella gets the handsome prince and ends up living a wonderful life and the sisters get punished for life by each having an eye pecked out. In the Golden Goose, again the third child is the neglected, hated child and it is he who ends up living the good life in the end and the girls who were stuck to the goose were shamed. Lastly, for The Water of Life, again the third child triumphs in the end and marries a beautiful princess and his brothers end up being hated by their father.

I just need to know why this was important, why was karma or fate or destiny important in the fairy tale. I think it has something to do with Natural Law but again I'm not sure and would love some more advice!

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(12/2/07 1:20 pm)


Re: Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs is probably obligatory as it is the only Grimm fairy tale in which fate, destiny or karma really is manifest.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(12/2/07 1:35 pm)


Re: Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
I think that Cinderella, The Golden Goose and the Water of Life are not good examples. We are not seeing karma, we are seeing Virtue Rewarded, which is a different philosophical concept. And we are not seeing fate or destiny, because the characters' actions are the cause of their reward or punishment.

And I don't think you can discuss why karma or fate or destiny is important in the fairy tale without first establishing that it is.

There are prophecy-is-fulfilled fairy tales that show the impossibility of evading fate -- come to think of it, Little Briar Rose is another instance -- but they are not common.

Virtue-is-rewarded is another common motif, but it's far from the only one. In The Singing Bone, villainy is punished but the hero is dead and remains dead. The Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was succeeds not through virtue but through being too stupid to realize things. The Wonderful Musician hardly plays fair with the animals. In Godfather Death, the hero ends up dead for trying to outwit his godfather, who gave him his knowledge and made him rich. The Thief and His Master is a contest between two equally unscrupulous thieves. Dr. Know-All manages through cheating and dumb luck to pass himself off as knowledgable and makes himself rich. The Master Thief is cunning but completely unscrupulous.

Picking fairy tales where Virtue-is-Rewarded doesn't establish that it is necessarily important for the genre.

AliceCEB
Registered User
(12/2/07 3:35 pm)


Re: Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
Mary, although other tales may have better examples of fate/destiny/karma, I think you can still use the tales suggested. For example, Cinderella is a virtue is rewarded kind of tale, but you can also look at it as a tale about the the daughter of a rich (noble? I can no longer remember) man, and so her destiny should be commensurate with her station. Her stepmother and stepsisters usurped her position, therefore their fate should be to be punished and returned to the station that they belong as thieves of Cinderella's station.

This interpretation will not necessarily work for the Golden Goose or the Water of Life, but I think with some thought, an analysis can be done of what the fate/destiny/karma of the primary characters should be, based on their position and actions in life.

Best,
Alice

AliceCEB
Registered User
(12/2/07 3:38 pm)


Re: Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
I add, quickly, that this class based analysis is based on notions that existed in the 19th century. :p

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(12/2/07 10:07 pm)


Re: Fate, Destiny and/or Karma in Fairy Tales
Yes, Cinderella does fall and rise instead of just rising -- an interpretation which can mean that her lowly position is not merely unpleasant, but an injustice. (An interpretation I think I first read in Italo Calvino.)

But calling it fate is pushing matters. After all, in many fairy tales, the rivals are the hero's brothers, or the heroine's sisters; they have the same high birth; but they end up in the lowly situation in the end. If high birth were fate, it would be fate for the villains as well as the hero.

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