In class on February 7, we began our class with the presentation on the children’s film Coraline. This popular film, released in 2009, was based on a book with the same title that was published in 2002. This so-called children’s fantasy is about a little girl named Coraline who discovers a parallel version of the universe hidden behind a doorway in her home. Driven by loneliness and discontent, Coraline frequents this Other World during the night, searching for the very things she desires from her real parents. Within this parallel universe are characters that resemble those from the real world, though they have all had buttons sewn on as eyes. After discussing the plot of this film, the class discussed whether or not this is a film that is actually appropriate for children to view. The film exhibits themes of neglect from Coraline’s parents, a naked woman with jewels covering parts of her body, child abuse from the bedlam, as well as Coraline’s rebellious attitude and manipulative tactics. Although the moral of the story is valid, the class came to the dark film.
From there, we went on to discuss the readings that were assigned for the class period, Hansel and Gretel. Much like Coraline, Hansel and Gretel is a dark tale that is not the most appropriate to read to children. While the moral of the story is beneficial, the content and overall message of this tale is quite disturbing. We discussed four fairytale stories, Hansel and Gretel by Brothers Grimm, The Juniper Tree also by Brothers Grimm, The Rose Tree by Joseph Jacobs, and Little Thumbling by Charles Perrault. From there we compared the four tales to previous readings.
Hansel and Gretel, as told by Brothers Grimm is most comparable to Little Red Riding Hood. In both of these stories, children are left alone in the woods to fend for themselves. While the intent was for Little Red Riding Hood to make remain far from harm’s way, she is tricked by the wolf and ends up being eaten. Hansel and Gretel are essentially left for dead, but end up being enticed by a house made of bread and candy.
The Juniper Tree illustrates a similar theme to The Happy Prince, where the little boy is killed by his stepmother, who tricks him into reaching for an apple inside a chest. Upon dropping the lid, the boy’s head is separated from his body. In attempt to cover up her atrocity, she places a handkerchief around his neck and convinces the daughter to smack him in the face. Of course, the head flies off and the girl is reduced to tears, thinking she has killed him.
The Rose Tree compares greatly to Snow White, where the stepmother exhibits extreme outburst of jealousy. In The Rose Tree, the stepmother is so jealous that she ends up cutting off her stepdaughter’s head, and then proceeds to feed the remains to the father and brother of the girl. What was left of the girl was buried out back underneath a rose tree. The girl is reincarnated as a bird, where she ends up dropping a stone on the stepmother’s head and killing her.
Little Thumbling is very similar to The Little Red Riding Hood. In both stories pebbles are used to mark a path once they overhear the parent’s deviant plan to leave them alone in the woods. Cannibalism is a huge theme in these stories, relying heavily on villainous monsters plotting to devour the children. There is also a shockingly similar motif between Little Thumbling and Snow White, with there being seven children and seven dwarves.
Composing these comparisons is very beneficial because we will be required to do something similar for our midterm paper, where we are responsible for the comparison of two fairy tails.