Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Final Blog!

         This is the final blog for the semester and I certainly have learned a lot about fairy and folk tales. I did not know there were so many images and purposes for these tales. It seemed that everything was a phallic symbol with the weirdest symbols being the foot going into the shoe. I still do not believe that that should be interpreted as phallic symbols. I also did not know about how far reaching fairy tales were, like I did not know that fairy and folk tales existed in places like Kenya. I also did not know about how dark and bloody a fairy tale can get with the darkest one we read being “Bluebeard”. 

Overall, I loved this class, I would definitely suggest it to any sophomores if this class is offered again next year. I liked all of the readings, however I would have preferred for there to be less lectures. I liked our class discussions more, especially when we would draw graffiti. However, I would not say that this was a difficult class, while it does involve some critical analysis of texts, you are still reading fairy and folk tales. It does not take that much time to read all the materials for the class to know all the information. Still, I really enjoyed the class and I hope it is offered for other students next year.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pan's Labyrinth

        Today we had a lecture from Dr. Deveny about the movie “Pan’s Labyrinth” and it was much different from other lectures we have had. Other lectures were about fairy tales from other countries and cultures, but this lecture was about a movie which displayed fairy tale themes. It showed various things such as the use of the number three in fairy tales. The main protagonist, Ofelia, had to accomplish three tasks in order to gain entrance into her home world. Even within the three tasks there was use of the number three. For example, Ofelia had to retrieve a golden key from a toad’s stomach by making him shallow three rocks. 
We also went through Valdimir Propp’s thirty-one functions of fairy tales, and saw how they related to the movie. We not only saw some functions relate to the fairy tale aspect of the movie, but these functions were also used with the historic aspect as well. For example, Valdimir’s fourth function mentions how the villain tries to gain information, which is what the captain did when trying to find the guerrillas hiding in the forest. Another function seen in the historic aspect of the movie was when the captain is shot, which is Propp’s thirtieth function where the villain is punished. 


Deveny, Thomas. “Once Upon a Time in Spain in 194: The Morphology of El laberinto   del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth).” Westminster. 26 Apr. 2012. Lecture

Thursday, April 19, 2012


This past Tuesday Dr. Shabbir Mian came into our class and gave a presentation titled “Rupkoth”. In his lecture, he taught us a lot about fairy and folk tales from Bangladesh. He taught us how the tales were passed on orally, created over a thousand years ago, and were used to teach others various life lessons.I had already known all of this information, if not assumed, because this is how it seems all fairy tales originally were. 
Even though I already knew a lot of the things Dr. Mian talked about, there were many things which I did not know about Bangladesh folk and fairy tales. For example, he taught us that in their culture, red is designated as a pure beautiful color, while usually for our culture, it is used for more gruesome or darker images like blood, demons, or even the devil. He also went into great detail about various collections of their fairy and folk tales, each of which involved names which were incredibly long and complex to me. For example the Panchatantra, which is a collection of sanskrit fables, was made in 550 AD. Then a more modern collection of tales is the Lal Behari Dey which was made in 1875. Even though his presentation had a lot of information I already knew, I still learned a lot.


Mian, Shabbir. “Rupkoth.” Westminster. 17 Apr. 2012. Lecture

Sunday, April 15, 2012


In the past week, our class has read fairy tales from one of my favorite authors of all time, Oscar Wilde. His tales had some difference from other tales we have read in class so far. One difference which can be seen is in tale “The Nightingale and the Rose” when a life is given in order to make a red rose. The rose was to be given for a date, however when the boy offered it to the girl, she replied no and he threw the rose away. This tale is different because it makes the sacrifice seem meaningless. In other tales we have read, when someone sacrifices their life, something is gotten back.


Another difference which can be seen in his other work, “The Selfish Giant” is the introduction of a religious theme. Other works we have read introduce a divine theme to it such as “Urashima the Fisherman”, but none have actually introduce a religious theme. This religion can be seen in “The Selfish Giant” when the giant goes out to see the boy he once loved, only to have the boy with nail wounds in his hands and feet, inferring that he is Jesus. Lastly, it reference a garden as Paradise, which can be viewed as heaven or the Garden of Eden. 


Friday, April 6, 2012

Storytelling in Kenya

       On Tuesday, Dr. Ochlieng’ K’ Olewe came in and talked to our class about folktales and storytelling from Kenya. This lecture was different from the other lectures we have had so far and by far this one was my favorite. While with the other lectures, we would sit and listen and answer some questions, Dr. Olewe would have the entire class stand up and sing along with him. Along with that, he would have us all dance along to whoever was asked to lead the rest of us. This lecture was the best one we have had so far, but it was also very educational.
He taught us about the various types of storytelling and folktales in Kenya. I originally thought that folktales were just told to help teach lessons to others, however in Kenya there are many other purposes for folktales. The tales are used to teach lessons, create a sense of community and teach others about history. It is also used to explain the order of things in life; for example, Dr. Olewe told us this story of how a ear chose the human head over the mosquito, so from that point the mosquito buzzes past one’s ear. I learned a lot from his lecture while having fun.


Olewe, Ochieng K. “Folktale and Storytelling Tradition from Kenya.” Westminster. 3 Apr. 2012. Lecture 

Thursday, March 29, 2012


“Bluebeard” is a tale in which a man marries a woman; when he goes away on business, he gives her a key to the house, but tells her not to go into one room. She decides to go in and in there she sees the dead bodies of the women Bluebeard had previously married. When she drops the key from shock, it becomes stained with blood which cannot be removed. Then Bluebeard sees this blood, knows she went into the room and decides that he must now kill her. I think that it is pretty obvious that Bluebeard is the villain in the story. Not just from wanting to kill her, but also because he killed all of his previous wives. 
While this version of the story is Charles Perrault’s version of “Bluebeard”, and one of the best known versions, my favorite version of this tale is the Grimm’s, “Fitcher’s Bird”. The main reason this is my favorite story is because there are two women who are killed, but are simply put back to together, and are alive again. “She set to work gathering all their body parts and put them in their proper places: heads, torsos, arms, legs. When everything was in place, the pieces began to move and joined themselves together” (Tartar 149). This made it my favorite tale just because this is the most absurd way to bring someone back to life in a tale. It does not even say that through magic that they are brought back to life, but rather, they just “joined themselves together”. 


Tatar, Maria. The Classic Fairy Tales. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999.   Print

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rags to Riches

In all the different versions of Cinderella, she becomes rich and happy through either magic or marriage. In the Grimms’ version, she is given dazzling outfits by a magic tree and attends a party. In the end, Cinderella marries the prince after her foot fits into the slipper she lost. Meanwhile her stepsisters are punished, not only from having cut off part of their foot, but by having their eyes pecked out by birds. 

In the versions in which Cinderella marries a prince, she shows how one can just marry to get into the upper class, even though this is not meant to be the lesson in the story. This not only happens in fairy or folk tales, but also in reality. There are those women who marry for love but also happen to marry someone wealthier than themselves. Then, there are women who marry, not out of love, but just for the money aka “gold diggers”. They usually marry older rich gentlemen and then divorce them to get half of their money. Lastly, there some women who get pregnant in order to get more money. The only “magic” which may be involved in a woman marrying  someone richer than themselves is the magic of love.