Most of us think of magic, castles, princesses and happily ever after when we think of fairy tales. There is also a very evil side to these whimsical tales. They often include witches, ogres, spells and goblins. Many fairy tales involve good versus evil and not all of them have a happy ending. They originated from tales handed thru generations , some based from facts, others from fables and legends. Many embellished and extra facts added and important parts left out through the years. Tales of folklore put to print and stories we read to our children to this day.
The real Rapunzel was locked in a tower and beheaded by her father. Fairy tale versions of her story say she is kidnapped by a witch and never was allowed a haircut because the witch used her long hair as a rope to scale the tower. The Grimm Brothers version was that a prince also scaled her tower, she became pregnant and was left alone to give birth to twins. The prince went blind and was left to wander aimlessly thru the forest.
One of the oldest fairy tales goes back 6000 years. It was The Smith and The Devil and was a story involving a blacksmith selling his soul to the devil in exchange for super natural powers. It gave him the power to weld any material. He used this power to stick the devil to an immovable object and in doing so it allowed him to renege on his deal with devil.
The Brothers Grimm also gave a morbid twist to many fairy tales. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German librarians, who in the early 19th century began to collect and publish local folklore. They interviewed friends and family gathering stories and fables that have been handed down to generations. They collected and published these tales as “Children and Household Tales” in 1812. There were many famous fairy tales in this collection including Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood, these collections later became known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The early editions were directed at adults and contained a lot of violence and dark content, later modified to a softer version that could be read to children.
Hans Christian Anderson was a Danish master of fairy tales. He was born in 1805 and died in 1875. He compiled 156 stories and they were translated into more than 125 languages. His most famous tales included The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Match Girl, Thumbelina and The Little Mermaid. Many of his stories were also re-invented and adapted by Disney studios.
Fairy tales were an inspiration for Disney animated films. Of course our beloved Disney movies have altered and removed many of the gruesome parts of the original fairy tales to make them appropriate for all age groups. In most Disney fairy tales most villains have some redeeming qualities and princesses live happily ever after. Disney has released dozens of animated feature films and shorts starting in 1922 with Little Red Riding Hood and continuing to this day. Adapting and animating tales to make them stories and films for the whole family. They are portrayed as heartwarming and wholesome tales often with a moral message. Frozen and Frozen II were adapted from the original Hans Christian Anderson tale “The Snow Queen”
It is amazing to find out that many of the fairy tales we know and love have existed for thousands of years without being published. They were passed on in shared cultural history for years before being set in ink. It is believed the story of Jack and The Beanstalk had been told over 5000 years ago , originally rooted in the story The Boy Who Stole The Ogre’s Treasure. Two notable fairy tales, Beauty and The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin were stories told about 4000 years ago.
So while these famous writers did not make the stories up entirely from their imagination, they derived them from stories of the past and brought them to life in books so we can all continue to enjoy them.