Snow White has a baby? This world renowned fairy tale just took on a whole new meaning. You may never guess the ravishing surprises that await in “Once Upon a Time”. In the 2011 produced TV show by ABC Network, Snow White and Prince Charming introduce their precious little girl, Emma, to the fairy tale world. This isn’t any ordinary baby however, this is the “savior”, the “savior” that was prophesied to come to set all fairy tale creatures free from the curse of the infamous Black Queen. 28 years after birth, Emma finds herself in the real world. For those 28 years she is blurred to what her purpose in life is, but that’s before she comes to meet Henry. The 12 year old boy who can help her find destiny. He leads her to Storybrooke, where all the fairy tale friends are found living normally, but without any recollection of what they truly are -- story book characters. Throughout her search in Storybrooke, she comes to accept her eternal responsibility as “savior” and doesn’t waste any time in devising plan after plan against the Black Queen to save all the innocent fairy tale souls from the heart ache and sadness bound to last.
We all know, from children to adults that with such an intriguing entrance into this fresh tall tale, is it hard not to see why fairytales are indispensable?
Fairy tales have shaped childhoods since the beginning, and they project mind-sticking principles that shape who we are, and who we ultimately become. I will be letting readers know how it is that fairy tales direct the very world we live in, the reasons why parents and children should embrace them as a childhood tradition, and how we can apply the beneficial principles taught through them. No matter the plot, or modern twist put on juvenile fairy tales, it is known that these fictional happy endings shape our modern reality.
“Creative isn’t the way I think, It’s the way I like to live.” Isn’t that the epitome of what we as human beings truly are? From our childhoods to our adult hoods we all try to live a little more, be a little more, and imagine a little more. In today’s modern times, we see adults “imagining a little more” by educating their children at a younger and younger age in hopes to train them properly for life. Interesting enough, child education is often heavily constructed with fairy tales -helping them to live, be, and imagine a little more. Tall tales have been implemented in most childhoods all over the world. They are a part of an infantile tradition that never seems to fail. Pinocchio, Hercules, and Aladdin, all have been child’s favorites from which all have learned. In an academic article written by Johnathan Young from The Inside Journal he said, “Opening ourselves to greater significance in familiar stories requires a certain tenderness of spirit.” Magical characters, key moments, and exciting adventures, all play into a deeper attraction towards the fairy tale than what is displayed on the mere theater screen These very attractions are what stick in one’s mind per say. The principles of romance, for example, can help boys and girls, men and women learn how to be together in harmony and treat each other with respect. Or the principle of perseverance when Hercules goes from zero to hero, Pinocchio learns how to be a real boy, or when Aladdin turns from thief to prince. Whatever the circumstance, the implied principle stands that fairy tales open doors into the imagination that haven’t been discovered before--doors that will help parents and children embrace fairytales. Hopefully now it is learned that fairy tales are vital to the internal development of children and will conduct to a healthy, successful lifestyle.
Once we understand the principles portrayed in fairytales how is it that we implement them in our lives? It is explained very well once we understand how these principles shape our choices. For example, in the Disney production of “Aladdin”, he goes from notorious thief to honest prince. But what did the learned principle of integrity teach him to do? It taught him to discern right from wrong. Although Aladdin felt he had to steal to be able to survive, he found that keeping his integrity was much more valuable and rewarding. As seen in the fan favorite of Aladdin, we too in this world have our choices and decisions shaped by the principles learned in our favorite tall tales. In the Scottish Book Trust of inspiring readers and writers, they describe 3 consequences of applying principles into our lives. 1) “They teach us right from wrong.” As children grow, they learn the right decisions from the wrong. It isn’t only through “direct teaching, but through implication.” – (Blythe, Goddard. The Telegraph.) 2) “It develops critical thinking skills.” When a child or adult sees that the villain does not prevail and that their tactics did not succeed, it teaches to not follow that instruction, that evil does not prevail. It influences their decisions in the future to critically think things through. For example, when making a dishonest, or hurtful decision looks like the easy way out of a situation, this consequence of critical thinking will help them to make the better maybe even harder decision. 3) “They can help children/adults deal with emotions.” The average person deals with many emotions throughout the day, many of those falling in the category of sad emotions. Specialist Bruno Bettelheim explains that “fairy tales can aid people in dealing with anxiety they are, as yet, unable to explain. In fairy tales children are often the main character and more often than not will win against the story's evil. Readers can relate to this and find a fairy tale hero in themselves.” When good principles are applied, and moral goodness begins to catch fire within one, the decisions, thinking, and actions are all effected in a positive way.
As this show unfolds into the complicated, yet intriguing story plot, you begin to see what the show really has to offer. What moral value do you really get from emerging yourself into the fairy tale land of Storybrooke? Many vital life surviving principles such as loyalty, dedication, and imagination are learned in this show. These fundamentals provide a base for a healthy and successful lifestyle, the lifestyle we all strive for. The very world we live in is directed by these principles, especially imagination. This world has come to know that as renowned scientist Albert Einstein stated, “Imagination encircles the world.”
How then does the world implement imagination into its culture? Mainly through its education. Studies have shown that 70% of Americans agree that imagination should be a main focus in the education system in America. It makes sense then that almost nine in ten voters (90 percent) say that using the imagination is important to innovation and one’s success in a global knowledge-based economy and essential to success in the 21st century. With so many ways to write imagination, “Once Upon a Time” couldn’t have scripted it better. The characters and plots all base themselves in imagination. The world we live in is defined by imagination, imagination portrayed in fairy tales. One’s mind has never been so stretched, nor so fascinated as imagination takes root in them and ultimately directs their lives as they learn to do as Collin Wilson said, “Create Reality.”
It has been disputed however, for many years, the real need for fairy tales. Are they really useful? Are they vital to childhood development? All these questions and many more have been brought to the attention of the world.
“Armando Maggi from the University of Chicago seems to be of this opinion. He uses the idea and thought that fairytales have “lost their magic” to argue that we need new myths in today’s world. Throughout the years and even decade’s fairytales have been the worlds “way to reason, the way we survive, the way we make sense of our world.” Today, However, argues Maggi, we need something new. The same myths and fairytale legends are not working for the modern mind.”
Sounds like he may need a little more “imagination.” We need the past to boost our future. How many fairy tales can one count on their hands where the prince, or the child mess up early on in their lives, but through hard work and dedication they prevail over the opposition and “live happily ever after?” So many come to mind. And what does that do? What does “prevailing over the opposition” do for us in life? It helps us decide to keep going forward, never give up, and live our own “happily ever after.” Progression is essential to this life, if you want to be successful, you must learn how to dream. It is not that fairy tales don’t work anymore as Maggi claims, rather the problem seems to be that we all have forgotten how to dream. That we truly can create and live in reality a happily ever after.
“Scare tactics, and the tendency towards a good and evil scheme all play major roles in the problems with fairytales. Arielle Schussler from Caliber Magazine comes out very bluntly opinionating that fairy tales should not be a continued daily read from parents to their children. She leans towards the opinion that fairy tales have a lot more of an effect on our lives than just the original thought that fairy tales are all romance and happy endings. Rather, she chooses to focus on the scare tactics and tendency towards a good and evil story that can come to affect not only the people, but more importantly the children.”
Conflict and opposition are all a part of life. Parents these days will try and hide their kids from the bad things of this world that are frankly inevitable. Let’s take the Disney fairy tale “Tangled” for example, a world favorite. Rapunzel was locked away in a tower by her so called “step-mother” for many years, 18 to be exact. She spends her days cleaning, baking, reading, and even sowing her own dresses! All inside the walls of her castle. Never knowing what was on the outside, never knowing what life could truly be. On her 18th birthday however she is taken by her friend Flinn Rider, who knows all too much about the outdoors, and he teaches her how to live life as it was meant to be lived. Now, Rapunzel came across some difficulties, she had struggles, even who she thought was her “step-mother” tries to hurt her. That however is the very reason that Rapunzel won. She learned how to cope with those situations and fight through evil and live life. Life cannot be fully lived inside the walls of a bedroom, it can only be truly lived when we take all that life has to offer. Even though there are scare tactics and a certain tendency of good and evil stories in fairy tales, like we see in Rapunzel, those very things are what helps make our lives successful. They are what help us to be creative, imaginative, and live our lives the way we imagine them to be.
In conclusion, Fairy tales have shaped childhoods since the beginning, and they project mind-sticking principles that shape who we are, and who we ultimately become. I confirm that fairy tales, tall tales, call them what you will, are an essential part to how it is that fairy tales direct the very world we live in. They also give convincing reasons why parents and children should embrace them as a childhood tradition. Finally, principles can be taught and applied into our lives giving us the opportunity to live a happier, healthier life style. Snow White nailed it with an inspiring conclusion to the movie “Once Upon a Time” when she said, “We all choose our own destiny.” I challenge readers to take the principles learned within fairy tales as illustrated in this article and choose their own destiny. It is a choice, a choice which is ours, only we can control what we want to be and who we ultimately become. No one else can do it for us, it is a God given gift we all have-the right to choose. We must make the choice to find our happily ever after.
- Docherty, Saoirse. “5 reason why fairy tales are good for children.” Scottish Book Trust. 2014
- Wilson, Collin. 2013
- Maggi, Armando. “How fairy tales lost their magic”. University of Chicago. Humanities Day. 2011.
- Schussler, Arielle. “The Case Against Fairytales.” Caliber. 2013.