Fairy Tale - Interpretations


Many fairy tales have been interpreted for their (purported) significance. One mythological interpretation claimed that many fairy tales, including Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, and The Frog King, all were solar myths; this mode of interpretation is rather less popular now. Many have also been subjected to Freudian, Jungian, and other psychological analyses, but no mode of interpretation has ever established itself definitively.

Specific analyses have often been criticized for lending great importance to motifs that are not, in fact, integral to the tale; this has often stemmed from treating one instance of a fairy tale as the definitive text, where the tale has been told and retold in many variations. In variants of Bluebeard, the wife's curiosity is betrayed by a blood-stained key, by an egg's breaking, or by the singing of a rose she wore, without affecting the tale, but interpretations of specific variants have claimed that the precise object is integral to the tale.

Other folklorists have interpreted tales as historical documents. Many German folklorists, believing the tales to have been preserved from ancient times, used Grimms' tales to explain ancient customs. Other folklorists have explained the figure of the wicked stepmother historically: many women did die in childbirth, their husbands remarried, and the new stepmothers competed with the children of the first marriage for resources.

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