Fairy Tales are truly magical
I am not talking about the fairies, the witches, the talking animals, or the multitude of other magical or non-magical creatures that we do not see outside the realm of the fairy-tale world. Yes, they are mainly what make fairy tales, but….
I am talking about the magical powers these stories hold within them. And many agree that fairy tales have powers, including Neil Gaiman and Albert Einstein.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― Neil Gaiman
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ― Albert Einstein
You are bound to find a multitude of posts here on my blog talking about fairy tales or the like. I don’t recall which fairy tale I read or heard first. But I do recall the stories themselves; even for the ones I have really not read (or seen or heard) in years now.
We somehow remember the fairy tales we heard or read or saw as young ones years after the fact. For whatever reasons, they have sustaining power in our memories! This enduring power through years in our lives, as well as the centuries across history lends credence to their magical powers, doesn’t it?
The lessons we learn
They help (and have for eons) wrap lessons within the format of a story that is easy to say and easy to understand. The scary and the darker sides of real life have often been folded into the words of many a fairy tale, and help provide a more digestible form to all those monsters under the bed and scary dreams for children (and the similar ones for adults too)!
By reading (or watching) or listening to fairy tales (or the like), we have invariably picked up the implicit lessons in the stories. It can be kindness, bravery, honesty, facing fears, fitting in or standing out, or the be wary of strangers lesson.
By showing the difficulties the main character faces, these stories show that life is not always easy. At the same time they show that the characters overcome these difficulties as the story progresses; sometimes they use their wit or strength, or with the help of others around them.
These stories also let the reader know that not everything and everyone is good or looking out for your best interests; there are witches and wolves and monsters and evil stepmothers and more, and that we should be wary. But it also teaches that not everything is as it seems or looks from the outside; you can find happiness, beauty, kindness, or help in the unlikeliest of places, people or things.
As we dive into worlds of wonder
Fairy tales are portals of wonder and imagination and adventure. They provide permission to dream wondrous dreams, weave tales of daring, to imagine ourselves in places far-away and realms magical, and let us be the ‘whoever’ we wish to be in the story. They provide a respite from the everyday, an escape from harsh realities, or simply a journey to the land of stories!
These stories also help us, the readers, be more creative and more imaginative. It makes us curious about the world around us, about places far away, and right in our backyard. It lets us go exploring and find out more.
Unbound by time or space
Across cultures and across centuries, tales such as these have a commonality, like they somehow speak the same language; and they help weave connections magically!
As a little girl in India, I grew up listening to stories my grandmothers told me. I was also a voracious reader. All those stories from India, Ali Baba, Aesop, Baba Yaga, Vasilisa, the Grimm Brothers – they all vied for shelf-space with each other. And I did realize as I grew older, that there was many a common tale or at least a thread of it, across these cultures.
And these stories lend themselves to adaptations; this is why we have those commonalities, as each culture makes a story heard from the traveler of that faraway land their own; this is why we have retellings, as each generation makes adaptations based on current sensibilities and imaginations. So, go ahead and re-read (or rewrite) that fairy tale.
Tell us it will be all right in the end
Fairy tales, no matter one thinks or says about them, invariably have that happily-ever-after. They show readers (the young ones and the older) that with time, everything will work out, be alright.
Note that each of us needs to take the best experience and lessons that each of us can, smartly and wisely, from these tales that we read. But don’t forget to simply indulge in the joy of reading!
And Now, the End of this Post
Dear reader, what are the most interesting and/or memorable lessons you have learned from fairy tales or other stories you have read? Do let me know. And would love to hear your comments on this post as well. [Side note, February 26th is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day]