Thursday, May 9, 2013

Final Blog Entry: What I've Learned?

Over the past semester I have learned a considerable amount about fairytales. When I think about all I have learned it comes to a surprise to me. This is because when I registered for the class I had no clue I would advance my knowledge this greatly. I think the greatest advancement came when I realized fairytales are not mere child stories and should not be taken at face value.  Fairytales force one to dive into the story and find what the author or orator is trying to communicate. In a way, fairytales allow students to advance their analytical skills. For me, the most classic example of a fairytale that aides a student in analytical skills is Hansel and Gretel. This specific fairytale involves many underlying themes such as cannibalism, starvation, growing up, oedipal complexes, etc. Throughout my childhood and before taking this class, I would have had no idea all of these themes were intertwined into a simple fairytale. Moving away from the development of my analytical skills, I gained a broader knowledge. I learned many stories and enjoyable tales that I will be able to relate to and pass on for the duration of my life. If I am ever to give a speech at a business conference, maybe I will open up with the story of Little Red Cap by The Brothers Grimm and then relate to fraudulent behavior. I could equate the wolf to management misrepresenting financial data to their employees or creditors. While this is a stretch, I think it would be a very useful comparison. I guess I could say that the knowledge I gained over the past semester was unexpected, but it was and is going to be very useful throughout my life. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dr. Alles Lecture on the Ādivāsīs in India

Dr. Alles Lecture on the Ādivāsīs in India was very different from what I was expecting in a variety of ways. Firstly, his actual presentation and lecture was less formal and not in a negative way. Dr. Alles presented the information in a way that allowed the class to interpret it for themselves. I think Alles chose to present the information in this way because the Ādivāsīs story tradition is almost an untouched by Western scholars and our insight could be beneficial. Due to the lack of knowledge on the topic available, I was opened to a whole new world of traditional stories. The stories presented and videos shown of those stories, reminded me very little of any of the story traditions the class learned this year aside from possibly the Native American Tradition. However, when I heard the stories of the Ādivāsīs, I was reminded of another learning point in the class. Max Luthi's theory of the origin of fairytales- tales were created by local events- fits pretty well with the stories told by Dr. Alles. For instance, many of the stories were related to a particular location or life event. The story of the tiger and the cow could have conceivably resulted from a tiger killing a farmer's cow one day. Other examples to prove the Ādivāsīs connection to Luithi's theory are the multiple stories relating to the mountains in the surrounding areas. Stories of mountains probably originated to explain trade routes. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jewish Fairytale Tradition

Jewish fairy tales are distinctly different from their European counterpart. While certain similarities can be drawn, overwhelmingly a Jewish Fairy Tale is unique when compared side by side to other sects of tales. One obvious difference that distinguishes a Jewish tale is the use of the Rabbi. In all of the Jewish tales we read in class, the main character or hero figure is always the Rabbi. The reason for the continual use of this main character is due to Jewish tradition.  Jewish tradition holds the Rabbi as the center of the community and it is he/she who teaches his/her students (the community). So it is only fitting that the Rabbi is in the center of tales, and the main purpose of these tales is to teach a lesson to its readers. Both the Rabbi and the tales are vehicles of teaching the community life lessons. For instance, in the tale “It Could Always be Worse” the Rabbi teaches the lesson to his follower that his situation is not so bad after all.
Another factor that make Jewish tales unique is their emphasis on God. Many non-Jewish tales have motifs of religion or have religion as a centerpiece, but Jewish tales almost invariably contain God. In many of the tales selected for reading in class, there is always a lesson build in to say God is the reason for all things good or something along those lines. Though there are more differences to point out between Jewish and non-Jewish tales, the main differences are the use of the Rabbi as the main character and the focal point of religion/God. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cinderella- Rags to Riches

he movie Pretty Women (1990) and the classical fairytale Cinderella share the motif of “rags to riches through magic and marriage.” While in the movie one does not see "magic" as the source of the main character Vivian's upward mobility, a case can be made for magic-like actions projecting Vivian from a lower class prostitute to the significant other (possibly future wife) of a modern day prince. Several times throughout the movie she ends up with the other main character, Edward, by chance or what I am referring to as a magical fate. Three major examples come to mind that drive this theory home. One, when Edward pulls up to the street in his Lotus Esprit to ask for "directions," he by chance speaks with Vivian. Kit, vivian's co-worker, gave the car to Vivian instead of taking it for herself. The second example of this magical fate occurs as Vivian is about to leave after the first night. As she is about to leave, Edward receives a phone call for a dinner party and he needs a date. At this time, he then hires Vivian for the rest of the week. This again shows how magical fate plays a role in the story. The third example is at the very end of the movie when Edward is unsure about his future with Vivian. She literally wants the "fairytale" and does not receive the answer she wants from Edward, so she decides to move to San Francisco. RIght before she is able to leave, Edward's chauffeur drives him to Vivian's apartment. As they arrive, pigeons flee in front of the limousine as if it were a scene from a fairytale. Furthermore, Vivian is on the top floor of her building and Edward has to climb the building to "rescue" her. The last example in the movie solidifies “rags to riches through magic and marriage.” Throughout the entire story both characters were bound to end up with each other by means of magical fate. In the real world outside of fairytales and movies, the ability for someone to reach success or riches with magic, marriage, charm, etc is possible but unlikely. The likelihood of this happening is low because so many people marry today without rising to instant wealth. However, there are a few notable examples of a "rags to riches" stories, or at least not so wealthy to wealthy. The most famous example that comes to mind is Kate Middleton, Prince William's wife. She was a website designer and photographer before she became the wife of a prince. To end this blog entry I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite professors Don Lavin. He says, "You can make more money in a one day wedding, than you will make working for the rest of your life." 

Unlike Any Other Fairytale

Bluebeard is unlike any other fairytale I have ever read. The majority of fairytales that I have come across usually do not contain the same graphic nature as Bluebeard. Before I discovered this tale, I thought Little Red Riding Hood was the most explicit tale because it contained a malicious wolf and had undertones of rape. However, even Little Red Riding Hood does not trump what lies behind the door for Bluebeard’s wife/fiancé in some versions of the tale. The version of tale that I like the most is the Charles Perrault’s Bluebeard because in my opinion it is the most explicit version of the fairytale. When the young bride enters the forbidden room she sees that “the floor was covered with clotted blood and that the blood reflected the bodies of several dead women hung up on the wall.” I am a huge fan of horror films and therefore I enjoyed reading the horror film like content. For the first time, I felt a little scared while reading a fairytale.
While Perrault’s tale was my favorite, my least favorite tale was the Brothers Grimm’s Fitcher’s Bride. I actually like all versions that I read of Bluebeard, but given the assignment I have to choose one. The reason I like the Fitcher’s Bride the least is because I felt as though it was the least probable story. While I understand that fairytales are not literal, the fact the sorcerer captured three sisters in the same exact fashion is moderately disappointing. The sorcerer “was a poor, weak beggar and had a basket on his back, as if to collect palms. He asked for something to eat, and when the eldest girl went to the door and was about to hand him a piece of bread, he just touched her and she jumped into the basket.” This process is repeated again for the next two sisters. What makes this especially disappointing to me is the last of the three daughters is supposed to be the critical thinker and she is captured in the same manner as her sisters.