Michelle, ma belle, sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensembles…

Our assignment: to reflect on another classmates work and ideas by reading through their blog.  I read Michelle’s at mwoshner.wordpress.com and I have to say, it looks very similar to my own.  Overall, I think Michelle has done a great job explaining and elaborating on her ideas.

Michelle and I took this class for the same reasons (blog post 1), and even though our favorite fairy tales are different (mine: Rapunzel, hers: Beauty and the Beast) we both cite Disney as being one of our main sources of fairy tales throughout our childhoods.  Then comes post 2: defining  a fairy tale.  I think Michelle made a good decision in including the definitons of authorities on the subject (Zipes, d”Aulnoy) and then sythesizing them to create her own definition.  It shows that she paid attention and learned from what we read/discussed in class, and was able to adapt it to fit her own learning.

The same goes for post 3: psychology in fairytales.  Michelle very clearly summarizes what Dr. Mazeroff taught; I only wish she had given more of her own opinion on the Freudian and Jungian interpretations of fairy tales.  From her post, it is unclear where she stands, and I would be interested in hearing her opinions.

For the LRRH cartoon post, Michelle definitely blew my own out of the water.  She very clearly explained the meaning of her cartoon and why she picked it, so that I can tell what the cartoon was about even though it isn’t pictured.  And finally, the Beauty and the Beast v. Cupid and Psyche post.  Michelle chose to compare Cupid and Psyche with Straparola’s “The Pig King,” and she does so very well.  I think that she hits all major similarities and differences, and clearly shows the overall links that the two stories hold.

 

Well done, Michelle. All in all, solid work.

Here Comes the Sun…

Though Rammstein’s video “Sonne” is very different from Snow White the fairy tale, I think major parallels can be found between the two. It is very easy to interpret Snow White’s interactions with the dwarfs being sexual in nature: she sprawls across their beds to sleep, they cut open her bodice to revive her, they wash her body with oil and wine, etc. However, I think that “Sonne” takes this to a whole new level. The images of the dwarfs simultaneously serving her and being her sexual playthings is far beyond what I think the fairy tale ever implies.
In the fairy tale, the dwarfs seem to worship Snow White after her death: they put her in a glass coffin so that she is still visible, and they keep vigil on their knees around the coffin: an image that smacks of the coffin as an altar for the seven little men. This worship, however, is not particularly evident while Snow White is alive: yes, they care for her and try their best to revive her when she swoons/dies, but their days don’t seem to revolve around her. Again, Rammstein takes this to a whole new level by turning Snow White into the “Sonne”- the sun. While the dwarfs are down in the mine, the video is shot in black and white– their days are grim and gray without the sun. When they return to the cottage, however, everything is in color: and Snow White’s colors are the brightest of them all. Throughout the video, they serve her (her meal, comb her hair, shine the apples that she eats, etc.), and when they aren’t serving her, they all watch her in a kind of awe. When she dies and they lay her in the coffin, the world around them again darkens: night has come now that their sun is gone.
Various interpretations of the fairytale argue different things: some believe that Snow White and the Evil Queen are one in the same person: the dark and the light, or the active, independent woman versus the passive woman, struggling against one another for dominance. This view seems to be supported in Rammstein’s video.
There is no evil queen involved, and no poisonous apple that causes Snow White’s death. Rather, she she seems to overdose (she snorts gold powder, and their is an image of a syringe), making her directly responsible for her own demise; thus, Snow White and her antagonist are one in the same person.
While Rammstein’s video does diverge from the original version(s) of the fairy tale, it does keep major parallels: the sexual and worshipful relationship between the dwarfs and Snow White, as well as the idea that Snow White is her own antagonist.

Beauty and the Beast v. Cupid and Psyche

Mme de Beaumont’s version of Beauty and the Beast holds many similarities to the Greek “Cupid and Psyche.”

from the 1946 french film "La Belle et La Bete"
I bet you didn’t know that the Beast also starred in “Cats,” did you?

Both Beauty and Psyche are sent to live with their respective “Beasts” as a punishment.  For the Beauty, however, it was not a punishment for her own transgression, but rather for that of her father for stealing a rose.  Psyche, on the other hand, has to be punished because she is too beautiful for jealous Venus’ taste. However, aong the same lines, while both are exiled (Beauty to the Beast’s castle, Psyche to the mountain) Beauty is actually sent to a Beast, while Psyche’s so-called “beast” is actually Cupid, a delightfully hunky winged god (I think Psyche got the better end of the deal).

Another similarity between the stories is the jealousy of the sisters of both heroines.  Both sets of siblings are jealous of the riches that each beauty receives upon being wed (or imprisoned).  That jealousy then incites each beauty to do something that ultimately harms their beast: Beauty stays away too long, while Psyche’s curiousity gets the better of her and she burns her man with some hot oil while peeking to see if he really is a beast. 
nope, definitely not a snake.
Now the two stories diverge.  All Beauty has to do is be loving and virtuous to revive the Beast and ultimately transform him into a man.  Psyche, on the other hand, has to perform three nigh-impossible tasks to win the favor of her husband’s mother.  Even then, she only succeeds with divine intervention on the first two.  During the third task, Psyche’s curiousity gets the better of her for a second time, and it almost proves to be her undoing, until (guess who?) her husband decides he can’t live without her, and comes to her aid.  Eventually, the gods persuade Venus to change her mind about Psyche, and then they change Pysche into a godess so that she and Cupid can finally be man god and wife.  Thus, the transformation is in the beauty, who also happens to be the beast: while Belle never does anything wrong and eventually transforms her husband by way of her virtue, Psyche ruins her own marriage and has to be transformed by the gods (because her own virtue certainly isn’t getting her anywhere).
The two stories have many similarities in both plot and the theme of transformation; however, they are still very distinct.
 
(ps- the top photo is from the 1946 french film “La Belle et la bete.”)

LRRH cartoons, anyone?

 

from Creators.com (author not given)

I wish that I could chop this comic off at the top, so that only the first two frames were visible.  It is obviously a conservative political cartoon, poking fun at political correctness.  I was amused at the fact that LRRH was more concerned about not “profiling” the wolf on his appearance than she was with her own safety. 

 

Fairy Tales and Psychology

Fairy tales and psychology have a very…interesting relationship.  Many psychologists (in particular Freud, Jung and the students of their respective schools of thought) believe that fairy tales can be interpreted in a psychological manner to derive meaning from them.  Freud, for example, might find a tree to be a phallic symbol, giving the tale a psychosexual connotation, while Jung might instead find archetypes such as the forest and find meaning through those.  Many psychologists also believed that fairy tales can act as a sort of key to the past or to the unconscious of a patient.  If this patient were to hear or read a particular fairy tale that applied to his/her fears, past, suppressed urges, etc., they may be able to identify for themselves what is ailing them and thus have taken the first step towards recovery.

Dr. Mazeroff’s lecture was very interesting.  I would not have related Hansel and Gretel to Freud and his psychosexual ideas of oral fixation, but I can certainly see how Freud made this point.  I also think it was helpful to go over the many archetypes that Jung presented, simply because it will make them more easily recognizable in future readings.

Definitions, definitions

Fairy tale: A fairy tale is a story that always has an element of magic.  Fairy tales are universal in several senses.  First, many fairytales with similar plots, characters, and  themes, have been found around the world, each originating in several different places at once.  They are also universal in that the characters in the fairy tale are rather bland: they are archetypes (e.g. the hero, the princess, the villain, the father, etc.) rather than specific characters with unique features.  Because of this, people from all over the world can identify with them, whether the story originated in France or China.

Folk tale: A folk tale is a story that always has an element of the supernatural.  Folk tales are indigenous to the culture that produced them, and therefore any meaning behind them that would be picked up from an individual of that culture might be lost on an outsider.  Because they are so culture- and history-specific, folk tales are unique, with characters that are well-formed and plots that are not often found in other places or cultures.