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Fantasy Literature for Children Week 1 - Fairy Tales - Hansel & Gretel

Kelvarhin
Half-elven


Jul 24 2017, 4:28am

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Fantasy Literature for Children Week 1 - Fairy Tales - Hansel & Gretel Can't Post

Hi All

I asked over on feedback if anyone would be interested in me sharing this subject I'm studying this semester at Uni. The books we'll be studying over the next 12 weeks are The Classic Fairy Tales, The Dark is Rising, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Tom's Midnight Garden, Northern Lights (or the Golden Compass for our American cousins) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I've decided to follow the course as it's set out in my unit plan and include some of the questions that I'll be answering and discussing (also online) with my classmates. Feel free to join in and I hope you enjoy it.

This week we'll be looking at the Fairy Tale, Hansel & Gretel. You can find the download of the Classic Fairy Tales text via this link.

Hansel and Gretel”, pp 179-210

“Hansel and Gretel”
Consider the different versions of the story you have read – while they are
certainly not identical - what are some of the key themes that they share that
would cause them to be grouped together in this way?

Compare the earlier stories by the Grimms and Perrault to the later tales – what are some points of
difference?

What is the significance of food to these stories – why is it a recurrent object in
the tales?

What do some critics say about the role of the ‘evil stepmother’ (p.180)?

Consider Chodorow’s argument (p.182) that
“[in psychoanalytic terms]…representations of the father relationship do not
become so internalised and subject to ambivalence, repression and the
splitting of good and bad aspects” as that of the mother.

Do you agree that the children’s relationship with the mother figure is more
fraught? Why might this be?

How does Zipes describe the role of the father in these tales?

What do you understand by the concept of the “symbolic order of the father”?

Anything else you'd like to share?

Cheers
Kel Heart


This is what happens when your tiger printer slowly runs out of ink Wink




(This post was edited by Kelvarhin on Jul 24 2017, 4:33am)


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Jul 24 2017, 10:10am

Post #2 of 8 (690 views)
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Will give comments later [In reply to] Can't Post

On the homeward leg of road trip so I'll be a bit late but I hope to participate. Are you planning one story focus a week?

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Kelvarhin
Half-elven


Jul 25 2017, 2:52am

Post #3 of 8 (670 views)
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Yep [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm planning on following my unit plan, which is like this, I'll miss out the breaks though.

Module
Date
Topic
1
31 July
Introduction to Folk and Fairytales
Hansel and Gretel (Norton pp.179-211)
2
7 Aug
Folk and Fairy Tales
Snow White (Norton pp. 74-100)
3
14 Aug
Folk and Fairy Tales
Beauty and the Beast (Norton pp. 25-72)
4
21 Aug
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1)
5
28 Aug
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2)
6
4 Sept
Reading Week
7
11 Sept
Tom's Midnight Garden
Essays Due Monday 11th September
8
18 Sept
The Wizard of Earthsea
9
25 Sept
University Break
2 Oct
Unit Break: Reading Week
10
9 Oct
The Dark is Rising
11
16 Oct
Northern Lights
Discussion Board Posts due this week
12
23 Oct
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

So that means it should only run for 10 weeks. The semester, for me, doesn't actually start till next week, most of us try to get all the readings done beforehand if we can. I've also got three Psychology texts to read, but I won't inflict any of that stuff on you guys LOL Laugh

It's looking like an interesting mad, stressful, lunatic semester Wink


This is what happens when your tiger printer slowly runs out of ink Wink




Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 25 2017, 7:22pm

Post #4 of 8 (641 views)
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To helpless infants still be kind,
And give to each his right;
For, if you do not, soon you'll find
God will your deeds requite.

-Babes in the Wood, 1595

(The ghosts of the abandoned boy and girl are said to still haunt Wayland Wood in Norfolk, England.)


“Hansel and Gretel”
Consider the different versions of the story you have read – while they are certainly not identical - what are some of the key themes that they share that would cause them to be grouped together in this way?


Coming of age – Young characters often take journeys and come back wiser, richer, and well-married. Note at the end of Hansel and Gretel the children display to their father the pearls and jewels they took from the witch, indicating that they’ve become the family providers. Also note the Grimms excised most of the coming of age sexual warnings Perrault featured in his tales. Also also note that the main theme in The Hobbit is Bilbo’s maturation. Also also also one could consider “Hansel and Gretel” as a Campbellian hero’s journey, or “there and back again”.

Change in class – European class structure was rigid, and a peasant had no hope rising to a higher class. In fairy tales, however, they could, rising through courage by killing monsters, through wealth by finding lost treasure, and/or through love by marrying a noble. But note in The Hobbit how Bilbo actually loses respectability in the end.

Justice – For the most part good (especially humility) is rewarded and evil punished. Of course we’re talking peasants’ wish fulfillment here, so a lot of the justice towards nobles is rather extreme. (Red hot iron dancing shoes for Snow White’s wicked stepmother, toe and eyeball removal for Cinderella’s stepsisters, etc.) Note that a major theme in Lord of the Rings is the exaltation of the humble. (“exultavit humiles” -Letter #163)

Metamorphosis – A frog becomes a prince, a grandmother becomes a wolf, a wooden puppet becomes a real boy, and of course a scullery maid becomes a princess. Note in Tolkien a man becomes a bear, Men and Elves become orcs, a grey wizard becomes white, a foul ranger becomes a fair king, and, three for one, an anonymous helmed warrior becomes a fierce shield maiden and then becomes a healer.

The Trickster – Characters often use cunning and secret wisdom (or foolishness and simplicity) to defeat monsters, gain wealth, and win the prince(ss). A miller’s daughter must discover a gnome’s secret name, a peasant boy must answer a series of riddles, and a clever little tailor must defeat giants. Note in Tolkien Bilbo answers riddles as well as discovers Smaug’s weakness, Gandalf tricks both trolls and Beorn, Beren must return to Thingol with a Silmaril in his hand (he doesn’t, but he does), Frodo must discover a secret way into Mordor, and Sam is, well, Sam.

Note how the themes correspond with the late 19th century Capitalist Fairy Tales of Horatio Alger. Perseverance, hard work, and humility can lead a poor shoe-shine boy to business success and respectability; adversity and hard times can increase character and create opportunities that can lead to wealth and success; and character, talents, and intellect rather than status and beauty can lead to true love.


Compare the earlier stories by the Grimms and Perrault to the later tales – what are some points of difference?

Sex and violence. Also Grimm’s evil stepmothers were evil biological mothers.


What is the significance of food to these stories – why is it a recurrent object in
the tales?


Food is one of the basic necessities of life. The ritual of family/communal dining is vital in establishing a sense of bonding and security. (For example in the past colleges and universities like, say, Oxford, *required* first and second year students to dine together in residential halls.) The absence of such bonding and security at home is a strong indicator that the natural order of things is threatened and out of whack. In Hansel and Gretel an apparent country-wide famine is severe enough to weaken the rules of society leading to the impairment of the sense of paternal obligation in the father and the total abandonment of any sense of maternal duty in the mother/stepmother.

On the other hand, the absence of food during adventures and quests is a virtual given. Food is also an indicator of the presence or lack of the laws of civilization. If a society offers hospitality (Bag End, Laketown) it tends to be beneficent and peaceful. If it denies hospitality (The Elvenking’s Halls) it tends to be hostile and warlike. It’s even worse if the traveler himself is considered the food (Trollshaws, Goblin Town, Gollum’s Cave).

Food is often involved in a parent-child power dynamic. An abused child may hoard food, hiding it under their bed or in the closet so as to maintain some sense of control. On the other hand a step-parent may feel the need to demonstrate control over their stepchild by forcing the child to eat food they hate, or by denying them food they love. It’s sadly not unusual for the news to report a step-parent becoming enraged and murdering a child for “stealing” food from the kitchen cabinet or for refusing to eat their vegetables. The biological parent is usually ineffectual in protecting their child, if not tacitly or even actively complicit in the murder. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a famine for a Hansel and Gretel-like tragedy to occur.


What do some critics say about the role of the ‘evil stepmother’ (p.180)?

Well, they seem to say that the medieval “evil stepmother” type is engendered by the stepmother’s hostile self-interest versus the inconvenient biological children, but actually it seems to have arisen from the reverse. That is, when a widower remarried the self-interest of his adult children tended to lead them to characterize the stepmother as evil and conniving. That is, they'd publicly accuse her of trying to rob them of their rightful inheritance. Such attitudes became delicious gossip and “factual” narratives preserved in then contemporary court cases. For good measure the adult children would characterize their biological father as being weak, easily manipulated, and oblivious to his evil wife’s machinations. In short, the father and stepmother from Hansel and Gretel.

That actually hasn’t seemed to have changed. Often today’s biological father allows his biological children to disrespect and abuse the stepmother, ironically undermining both their authorities.


Consider Chodorow’s argument (p.182) that “[in psychoanalytic terms]…representations of the father relationship do not become so internalised and subject to ambivalence, repression and the splitting of good and bad aspects” as that of the mother.

Well, the father seems emasculated by failing as a pater familias, the head of the household. First he cannot provide food for the family, second he abdicates his authority to his wife, and finally he is usurped as pater familias by his children who return with pearls and jewels.


Do you agree that the children’s relationship with the mother figure is more
fraught?


Sure.


Why might this be?

The mother is a child’s first source of food. The withdrawal of that source can produce great resentment. Freud goes on about this at some length.


How does Zipes describe the role of the father in these tales?

As perpetuating the paternal authority of society, but I see the reverse. After Hansel and his assurances prove ineffectual it is Gretel The Maid who defeats the debased Crone who would devour the young rather than dispense wisdom. Then she returns home and replaces the corrupted Mother who no longer provided growth as well as the ineffectual Father who could no longer provide security. Basically Girl Power.


What do you understand by the concept of the “symbolic order of the father”?

So we go from Jung to Freud to Lucan, eh? I understand it as the laws of society and communication. That is, accepting a social contract. It’s like how if we accept God as The Father we must accept His Logos. That is, his Word, His commandments, and His symbology. Similarly, once we accept the symbolic order of “the father” we accept the rules and language of society. Note that this removes us one step from reality. It’s like how faith in The Bible may preclude accepting scientific truth. Similarly certain requirements in society may make absolutely no sense, like wearing a necktie or always facing forward in an elevator, but hey, it's required.

So in Hansel and Gretel "the symbolic order of the father" requires their father to raise healthy children and to maintain the moral propriety and well-being of his household. That's what a father does.

Obviously Hansel and Gretel’s father fails as badly as the stepmother.


Anything else you'd like to share?

1. Why the heck does the witch want to eat children? She can make an entire house out of candy! I’d think after learning to do that little trick the witch would lock the door, conjure up a chocolate credenza, and spend the next couple months in total bliss.

2. In ancient days exposure or abandonment of children was not considered murder, as there was a chance the gods or a passerby would rescue the child. (Adoption was a possibility, but being given into slavery was more common.) However, by both Greece and Roman laws deformed children were required to be put to death.

3. Various societies such as Carthage, Incans, and other guys supposedly practiced child sacrifice but some scholars assume that was cultural libel intended to establish that “Hey, those people are terrible! We should invade them, kill them, and take their land!”

******************************************

"You have my sword."

"And my bow."

"And my axe."

"And my giant flying eagles."


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Jul 25 2017, 7:34pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 26 2017, 6:14pm

Post #5 of 8 (618 views)
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Child sacrifice [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, that's an awful subject line. But anyway:

In Reply To
3. Various societies such as Carthage, Incans, and other guys supposedly practiced child sacrifice but some scholars assume that was cultural libel intended to establish that “Hey, those people are terrible! We should invade them, kill them, and take their land!”

I saw many years ago some documentary where they were unearthing a cemetery from ancient Carthage and found elaborate mausoleums for young boys whose skeletons showed they had been put to death, and there were lots of them. That seemed to confirm that Carthage practiced ritual child sacrifice. My memory is hazy, but I believe it had to be a male child, and rich people were required to do it as much as poor people (lest the gods punish all).

An unexpected twist was that there were sentimental inscriptions and memorabilia left behind in the boys' tombs. I think my idea of human sacrifice was shaped by Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," where normal people turn into heartless savages to do the dirty deed, but apparently the parents of these sacrificed children dispatched them with heavy hearts. Really not an easy subject to understand since it's horrific to even think about.

None of this, BTW, is to say the Romans were right to wipe out Carthage. Smile


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Jul 29 2017, 7:46pm

Post #6 of 8 (568 views)
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sorry so late [In reply to] Can't Post

 

This week we'll be looking at the Fairy Tale, Hansel & Gretel. You can find the download of the Classic Fairy Tales text via this link.


Blast it all I got the link to work when I wasn't on my own computer but couldn't get it to work when I was so my reading of the Grimm version is Project Gutenberg's


“Hansel and Gretel”
Consider the different versions of the story you have read – while they are certainly not identical - what are some of the key themes that they share that would cause them to be grouped together in this way?

Child abandonment, cleverness, sacrifice

Compare the earlier stories by the Grimms and Perrault to the later tales – what are some points of difference?

Grimm originally had both parents as the biological parents and changed to the stepmother later. -- later more modern versions I've come across are not so graphic in describing the witch's death and often leave out the bits about the cat and the dove that Hansel uses as excuses for dawdling.

What is the significance of food to these stories – why is it a recurrent object in the tales?

Famine was a very real issue to the people of the times when these stories originated. In many of the tales the symbolism is important -- the apple in Snow White symbolic of temptation -

What do some critics say about the role of the ‘evil stepmother’ (p.180)? Consider Chodorow’s argument (p.182) that
“[in psychoanalytic terms]…representations of the father relationship do not become so internalised and subject to ambivalence, repression and the splitting of good and bad aspects” as that of the mother.

Do you agree that the children’s relationship with the mother figure is more fraught? Why might this be?

Originally it was the biological mother and both parents were equally involved in the decision. A key element is the need to have a parent be bad so that the children can justifiable hate them, but since it's bad to hate your mother (though everyone does at some point we usually get over it)-- so have the real parent replaced by a step parent who can then be mean and vicious and the child can hate -- (Thinking of the Elijah Wood movie -- Radio Flyer where it's the stepdad who is the evil)

Mothers have more responsibility for their children and are supposed to make more sacrifices for them so it amps us the power of the betrayal when the mother figure does the evil deed.

Dad in the later versions is made to whine out his regret but ultimately goes along with the wife... in my version it says "Once one says A he must then say B and having given in the first time he had to do so the second" -- moralistic lesson about the slippery slope -- though dad come out the ultimate winner in that wife dies and children bring home riches and they don't even seem to hold him responsible for anything.


Anything else you'd like to share?
My version has many references to God won't forsaken us -- God will help us. Was this added to the tale as time went on to Christianize it?

For woodcutter's kids they don't seem to know how to help their dad cut wood.

The deliberate creation of the "fake ax" by the father so the kids think he is nearby -- that is betrayal.

The children following the white bird out of the forest and a white duck/swan taking them over the water (symbolism for death??) -- seem clear symbols of the "Holy Spirit"



Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Jul 29 2017, 7:59pm

Post #7 of 8 (565 views)
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Why eat children when you can have candy-- [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe she's absorbing their power. It's the purity and innocence of the children she wants. She's not out kidnapping woodcutters and their wives who would certainly have more meat.

Also some speculation that cannibalism of children in stories is relatable to how some animals each the placenta after giving birth -- far fetched relationship but heck... writers connect weirder things.

Then it could be that her doctor told her she had to lay off the sweets. Too much gingerbread is bad for and those spun sugar windows --- instant cavities.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Kelvarhin
Half-elven


Aug 2 2017, 5:16am

Post #8 of 8 (539 views)
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Not late [In reply to] Can't Post

I decided to leave it up for this week, as this is the first week of courses, so it ties in with my studies. Just makes it a bit easier for me posting. I'm hoping to be able to respond properly this weekend and then post the next subject.


This is what happens when your tiger printer slowly runs out of ink Wink



 
 

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