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Author
Comment
cyg88
Registered User
(2/11/07 12:52 pm)


re: Monsters/ Creatures in fairytales
I was wondering if anyone had any opinion or input on the significance of monsters/creatures in fairy tales? Specifically giants and ogres v.s fairies and dwarves. Why do some stories portray giants as evil while others portray them as good? Things like that.
I would really appreciate any information that anyone has to offer! Thanks!

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(2/11/07 6:15 pm)


traditional
In traditional 'fairy tales' (Grimm, Lang, Calvino, etc) there aren't really many very traditional fairies. :-) Not the tiny kind that look like butterflies and live in flowers etc.

The Cabinet des Fees stories in Lang have 'fairies' who are like Ozma in Oz: human sized and human appearing, but of a powerful magical race, and ruling over a country full of (inferior) humans. The 'fairy godmother' in Perrault's Cinderella is kin to these.

Iirc there are also some stories about humans seeing 'fairies dancing in a ring' that are somewhere between the powerful large fairies and the tiny fluttery ones.

minervasrazor
Registered User
(2/11/07 8:12 pm)


Re: traditional
Almost any "creature" can appear as a positive or negative figure depending on what tale you're discussing. Some certainly tend more toward one direction or another (an ogre tends to be evil, a white horse tends to be helpful, but not always.) There are also many stories in which a figure can be destructive and helpful at the same time. The great Russian witch Baba Yaga is a good example of this. Dwarves are certainly not always helpful or positive...see "Snow White and Rose Red."

One could give a variety of reasons for this, depending on what theory you apply to the tales. My own approach is Jungian, so I would say these archetypal figures all have a positive and negative aspect, and one or the other is emphasized depending on the psychological attitude the tale is compensating. But there are many other ways of looking at this question.

Fairies, as such, appear more often in literary fairy tales than traditional ones. They are particularly popular in Victorian tales where they take their role as godparents very seriously and often serve as moral pedagogues. Lang makes a rather amusing comment about this in the introduction to one of his fairy books, when he says, "These fairies try to be funny and fail, or they try to preach and succeed."

But traditionally fairies and other such beings (brownies, kobolds, redcaps and so on) belong to folklore. If silverware or plates go missing, or the cattle get spooked for no apparant reason, or one suddenly comes across a bag of gold coins hidden in the wall or something like that, people say fairies are behind it. This kind of lore gets handed down and is often so specific that different occurrences are the domain of specific types of "elf-folk."

That being said, some traditions do have lots of tales about this sort of thing. For instance, there are a great many Irish stories about farmers and fishermen who have a good relationship with fairies. These are structurally different from the most of the tales you find in Grimm. Often they are told as a series of anecdotes that happen to a particular family over the course of many years or generations, frequently ending with the circumstances under which the relationship with the fairies ended. This is as opposed to the sort of tale which centers around the development of a specific circumstance and conflict, which are the kind of stories we usually associate with "fairy tales."

J

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