Sunday, November 29, 2015

Final Blog Post

Reread all blogs you have written and reflect about what you have done and learned in the semester

Over the course of the semester I have gained a new appreciation on fairy tales, because of the many perspectives we have looked at them through. I have also learned how to decipher fairy tales, separation what is needed to keep the tale going from what is at the heart of the tale. The first blog I wrote about was what is my favorite fairy tale, which I said was Rumpelstiltskin. After reading many fairy tales from the Brother’s Grimm, I think that my new favorite fairy tale is Bluebeard. Since I researched extensively on the tale, I adore the symbolism and deeper meaning of the tale. 

Another important thing I learned this semester was why do people write fairy tales. People write fairy tales because of the Zeitgeist, or spirit of the time. There are many fairy tales about a myriad of monsters and heroes because the Zeitgeist is always adapting, changing to fit new cultural and historical contexts. In blog post 7 I learned about the Greek tale of “Cupid and Psyche”. Through this tale many similarities arose to “The Frog King”, such as the female getting herself into trouble because she cannot resist temptations. I also found a cartoon called “Little Red Walking Hood” for blog post 8, and compared it to the Grimms original. During this comparison I learned why Disney appropriated most of his stories, in order to change the Zeitgeist and also to give people hope, which was something people needed during the Great Depression.

The final thing I learned during the course of the semester is that fairy tales make it into mainstream media, and it is important to find these allegories. A salient example is “Silence of the Lambs”, which has “Little Red Riding Hood” motifs. The female character must fight her way into the light against Buffalo Bill, just like how Little Red must fight against the Wolf. In conclusion, From Grimm to Disney highlighted things I would have never thought about in fairy tales, and taught me how to read them in order to find out what they actually mean.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rapunzel VS Tangled

                                                              Comparing and Contrasting “Tangled” to “Rapunzel”
Tangled, released by Disney in 2010, is arguably the film with the biggest disparity between the original Grimm version and the movie. The differences arise from the very beginning in the movie. The first difference is about how Mother Gothel obtained Rapunzel in the first place. In the Brothers Grimm original version, the wife forces her husband to jump into the enchanted garden and take some rapunzel for her to eat. The next time the husband tries to steal from the garden, a fairy berated him for his thievery. She made a deal with the husband, that she could have their soon-to-be-born child in exchange for food in the garden. The movie describes a very different exchange; Mother Gothel steals Rapunzel from her bedroom in the palace, and takes her into the forest to a high tower. Disney decided to have Mother Gothel steal Rapunzel in order to create disdain and hatred toward her character, so people (children) can more easily recognize the villain.

The second salient difference is of Rapunzel’s interactions with the male character. I use the term male character because in the original version he is a prince and in the movie he is a their or bandit of sorts. Rapunzel is initially introduced to the prince because she is singing and he happens to stumble upon the tower. Rapunzel lets down her hair to pull him up, and then, in true fairy tale tradition, fall in love and decide to get married. Their plans are rudely interrupted when Mothel Gothel returns, causing the prince to jump down from the tower and blind himself. In “Tangled” the bandit, Flynn Rider is running through the forest when he finds the tower. Flynn ascends the tower and then is taken hostage by Rapunzel, whom eventually accepts a deal to take Rapunzel to the annual ceremony of lights. Through Flynn and Rapunzel’s adventures, the motif of women needing male assistance is prevalent. Rapunzel is basically hopeless without him, even though she thinks so highly of herself.

Even though these respective renditions of Rapunzel are vastly different, they have some similarities as well. Thematically both tales can be read two-fold. Firstly, the importance of understanding who we are to ourselves and on the other hand understanding who we are to others. Rapunzel is locked in the tower to understand who she is, symbolizing the journey into adulthood. Once she escapes from the tower, or interacts with others, she encounters difficulties, which arise because she is beginning to understand how she is to others. This journey into adulthood is one of the underlying themes in both of these tales, and one Disney did not contaminate away from this theme.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Reflect about the three versions of the story of “Bluebeard”. How are these tales similar or different? What is unique about them? Which one did (didn’t) you like the most? Why/ Why not?

“Fitcher’s Bird”, “The Robber Bridegroom”, and “Bluebeard” all give readers insight on something rarely discussed in fairy tales, what occurs after marriage. Each tale warns the readers that happily ever after does not always result because of marriage. These tales confirm a child’s “worst fears about sex” because it delineates what happens when a young girl marries an older man.

All three tales describe how a wife is “married to a nightmare”, but each one differs in the way that they fix that nightmare. In “Fitcher’s Bird”, the wife is successful because she hides the egg until her husband returns and is able to put her sisters back together. She then has the sorcerer carry her two sisters covered in gold back to her parents, and when the sorcerer returns, him and his friends are set on fire. “The Robber Bridegroom” describes how the soon-to-be wife hides behind a barrel and uncovers her fiancé’s hidden hobbies. She is able to save herself by retelling her experience in her kingdom, where the fiancé and his band of robbers are killed. In “Bluebeard”, the wife asks her sister to get their brothers to save the day. The wife is able to stall just long enough for her brothers to cut down Bluebeard with their swords. 

“Fitcher’s Bird” is unique because she is able to put the bodies back together again. It is also unique because the death to her husband and his friends are being set on fire. “The Robber Bridegroom” is unique because she actually witnesses the horrors her fiancé commits, whereas in Fitcher’s Bird and Bluebeard the wife only sees the aftermath. “Bluebeard” is unique because the tale can be read culturally as women needing the assistance of men. The other two tales portray the woman as saving herself, by using intellect and cunningness. The wife in “Bluebeard” can only delay the inevitable, and pray that her brothers arrive in time.

I liked “Bluebeard” the most because of the different interpretations the tale had. The wife can be characterized as a symbol of female empowerment from a feminist perspective, or as helpless and naïve who still needs a man’s help from a cultural of structuralist perspective. I enjoy how there is a bit of suspense to the tale, because the reader does not know if the brothers will arrive in time to save the day. I did not enjoy “Fitcher’s Bird” because it was a little too magical and illogical. First of all, how can an egg drop on the ground and not break, and how does the blood never wash off. Surely the wife could have gotten a new egg to distract her husband. Additionally, covering herself in honey and feathers seems very illogical, and there could have been a better way to disguise herself. I know, however, that some of these things could be symbols for abstract concepts, but I cannot grasp them.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Little Red Riding Hood vs Little Red Walking Hood

Find a cartoon on-line with “Little Red Riding Hood” as a theme and write a reflection on that cartoon. What kind of cartoon is that (social, political)? How do you like it? Add a copy of the cartoon, name of cartoonist and the source.

All pictures were screenshoted from Looney Tunes - Little Red Walking Hood (1937). URL is bolded below
The cartoon I chose was from the Looney Tunes titled “Little Red Walking Hood”, animated by Ken Harris and produced by Tex Avery. The cartoon begins with the wolf in a pool saloon catching a glance of Little Red walking down the street. He dashes to his car and races up to her. Little Red walks with her head up in the air and her eyes closed to disengage any advances from the wolf, but he continues to try to sweet talk her. Little Red has a short aside explaining how two-thirds of girls in the “modern age” have “gone through exactly what I am going through right now”. The wolf finds a short-cut to grandmother’s house and busts the door down to get inside. The two run around the house, and when Little Red knocks on the door, grandmother gives the wolf her clothes to lay in the bed. Little Red and the wolf have a fight in the corner until a Egghead, whom has been interjecting every minute or so whistling across screen, hits the wolf on the head with a hammer.
The cartoon describes the social happenings of the time, and reflects the time period’s Zeitgeist. Little Red is characterized as a pseudo-Katherine Hepburn, having various asides such as during the fight with the wolf when she states “Hard work to make a living, don’t you think?”. The Zeitgeist is clearly portrayed through the opening scene of the cartoon, as the wolf is dressed in a gentlemen, dapper fashion. He is playing a game similar to pinball, which was very popular during the 20s and 30s. Another example of the social reinforcements is during the wolf and grandmother’s pursuit around the house. The grandmother stops halfway through because a candlestick-phone is ringing. She answers it and tells the grocer her order, while the wolf stands there patiently. Both the candlestick-telephone and ordering from a grocer reflects the 1930s Zeitgeist.

I enjoyed this rendition of Little Red Riding Hood more than the original because Little Red and her grandmother were not so passive and docile. Little Red and her grandmother fought for their lives, as any normal person would, and were active participants in the tale, not just a tool to keep the story going. I also prefer this version because there were comedic moments in the story. One element that I enjoyed was that Little Red had the voice of an adult female, symbolizing her independence. Another element was during the fight between Little Red and the wolf, silhouettes walked across the screen and the two waited until they were “seated” to resume the show.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Write a comparison of “Cupid and Psyche” with that of the "The Frog Prince" by the Brothers Grimm.

The beginning of Cupid and Psyche introduces Psyche as the most beautiful maiden in all mortal lands, which offends the goddess Venus. The introduction of the Grimm’s tale describes a princess dropping her prized golden ball down a well. The rising action of each story are similar, because both result in punishment. Punishment in the greek tale is due to Psyche’s consummate beauty and in the Grimm’s tale is due to the princess’s golden ball. Psyche’s punishment is not being able to find a husband, even when her less fair sisters find one. The Greek tale implements religious elements, such as Psyche’s parents invoking the muses for answers about their daughter’s curse.
The Frog King and Cupid and Psyche both enforce parental themes. They know what the right thing to do is, and force their daughter into making a decision for the greater good. Psyche’s parents send her up onto the mountain to meet her fate, and the King in the Grimm’s tale forces the princess to entertain the frog. Additionally, the promises or destinies of each character must be fulfilled. In Cupid and Psyche, Psyche must go up onto the mountain because the decree told her to do so. In The Frog King, the princess must become the frog’s companion because she promised to do so.

In both stories actions occurs because of the main character defying before mentioned rules. Psyche is told not to open the box and to deliver it to Venus, but defying the rules brought her happiness and love. Since she opened the box and lay incapacitated, Cupid was able to rescue her and win her a petition of eternal life. In The Frog King, the princess is ordered to sleep with the frog, but instead throws him against the wall. Defying the rules transformed the frog into a handsome prince, resulting in her happiness and love.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Walt Disney's appropriation of Schneewittchen

Walt Disney was a radical filmmaker who changed the way the world viewed fairy tales through his use of appropriation, therefore enforcing his socioeconomic and cultural beliefs upon his viewers. Both versions begin with a relevant theme for the time period, the loss of the maternal figure and the subsequent introduction of a new one. This new maternal figure is characterized as vain, narcissistic, and haughty. The mirror is a consummate symbol of the mother’s vanity, because narcissistic people tend to look upon themselves in a search of self love. One of the biggest appropriations Disney created was the characterization of the 7 Dwarves. In the Brothers Grimm, they were merely a tool to continue the story, and generally had no influence over Snow White’s actions. However in the Disney version, the 7 Dwarves are liberated and brought to the foreground as prominent characters, and help drive the story’s plot. Another important appropriation is the introduction of the prince at the beginning of the story. Snow White is a servant to her step-mother in the beginning of the Disney film, and therefore the Prince is briefly mentioned because he will be Snow White’s savior. The beginning of the Disney movie is another example of Walt Disney’s favorite themes, rags to riches through the assistance of men. In both versions it is Snow Whites naïvety that kills her. The prince taking her from the dwarves and her re-awakening symbolizes the transition of childhood into adulthood. In the Grimms’ version, the haughty queen must dance herself to death with hot iron shoes, indicating that Snow White is mature enough to possess power over her step-mother.

I believe that Walt Disney diverted the original version in order to alter to a personal theme, that is going from rags to riches because of the assistance of a man. The Grimms’ version describes how after the transition into adulthood, Snow White now has the confidence and maturity to banish the queen. But in the Disney Version, Snow White continues to be a passive girl, venturing into the sunset with the prince. The queen in the Disney version falls off a cliff and dies, only because the animals chased after her. Snow White is as important a character as her father, because she does not do anything. The only thing she actually does is clean the house, further delineating Disney’s sexist views. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cinderella is one of these so called “rise tales”, which features a narrative arc of “rags to riches through magic and marriage”. write a reflection on this motif. Can someone reach success or riches with magic or marriage? How realistic is that?

Cinderella is one the most seminal works of the Brothers’ Grimm, and a plethora of writers and film designers have adapted the fairy tale in order to alter the themes and motifs. In the original Cinderella, a prominent motif is the “rags to riches” development. The Brothers’ Grimm also added Christian motifs in order to proclaim the power of God and divine intervention. The divine intervention is another motif, such as the birds speaking and able to perform complex tasks for Cinderella. Another divine intervention is when the tree drops down beautiful clothes and shoes for Cinderella. The tree is a symbol of Cinderella’s dead mother, who continues to look after her, having an angelic and generous benefactor presence. Cinderella is able to achieve this rags to riches development partly because she has a biological disposition, as to say she was “destined” for this result, and also because she welcomes and invites magic into her life. Cinderella is in fact liberated because of this magic, leading to her marriage with the king. Her life can be illustrated through a sinusoidal function. At the beginning of her life she is gleeful and wealthy, because of her father’s riches. From the point her father remarries, she is downtrodden and abused, because of the other women in her life. Cinderella is finally liberated and attains salvation because of the wealth of another man, the prince.
I believe that one can reach success or riches with magic or marriage. One example of this development is Roman Abramovich. He was raised by his uncle and grandmother after his parents died when he was four, and got his first big break from a wedding gift from his in-laws. In 1995, after dropping out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial interests, bought oil giant Sibneft. Abramovich continued to flip his investments and today owns the largest private yacht in the world and Barclays Premier League Club Chelsea FC. I would call Abramovich the epitome of rags to riches through BOTH magic and marriage. It is uncanny that he experienced this magic AT HIS OWN WEDDING!