Once upon a time there was a beautiful young girl whose lips were as red as a rose and whose hair was as dark as a thorn. She was the most beautiful girl in the kingdom ruled by an evil witch. Well, that’s the premise.
Chances are you have heard that story many times. These stories have endured through centuries because they are entertaining and teach a valuable lesson. In Snow White, it can be said that ‘envy and vanity do not pay’ is the point of the story.
Universal Appeal and Timelessness
The first fairytales were told to entertain and frighten children. According to the Norton’s The Classic Fairy Tales, these tales were initially referred to as old wives tales because so many nurses told them to the children in their care to keep them out of trouble. Children sometimes enjoy scary stories about ghosts and fairies. There is a fairy tale about a girl and a pair of enchanted red shoes by Hans Christian Andersen that can be quite gory. Although it was written centuries ago, the story endures because of its macabre qualities and its interesting message. The tale teaches about vanity, but disguises the learning within an entertaining tale.
These tales have universal appeal. Snow White was originally a short tale called Snow White and Rose Red and it featured two sisters and a prince enchanted by a greedy dwarf into a bear. In Spanish, the story is know as Blancanieve. It is popular no matter the language.
Snow White is timeless. There is even a modern film retelling called Mirror, Mirror (2012) which has Julia Roberts playing a demanding queen who wants money and to be young again. This just shows how fairy tales can endure. It might be because these are the tales that our Mothers told us at night before we went to bed, or that we read to ourselves when we were first starting out as readers.
Elements of a Fairy Tale
Anyway, fairy tales have certain elements in common. They have a beginning, middle and satisfying ending. They feature some kind of enchantment or curse that the main character has to break or free another character. They can be read in one short sitting. Sometimes, there are talking animals or objects. There is an antagonist in a powerful role. There might be poor and rich characters and members of the nobility like princesses and kings. Magical occurrences frequently take place in these stories. There will be witches, fairies, unicorns, etc..
In Snow White, these elements are all employed. There is a witch, an enchanted apple, a prince and a talking mirror. The story has been played on stage and screen and written in countless anthologies and books. The story is told to young girls all over the world in so many languages.
- Select a story from your childhood that you enjoyed and figure out if it is a fairy tale or something else.
- Read some of the stories from the book in this post.
- Write a retelling of a fairy tale from another culture. (Little research. Don’t be scared.)
- Write your own fairy tale and share it with someone you love.
Here is the book of fairy tales free for a download. I downloaded this file from PlanetPublish.com, a cool site that permits free downloads of ebooks and other materials.