Lessons From Fairy Tales


The first week of each month I like to discuss story. What it means, why we need it, how it helps us in our lives.

Let’s talk about Fairy Tales. They are rather omnipresent are they not? Often growing up, these are the stories told at bedtime. These tales have been passed down for generations. We can thank the Grimm Brothers for collecting these tales.

These tales have continue to be relevant because as with any great literary work, they contain hard realities we all face in one way or another. The heroes in these tales overcome great odds.

Why have these stories stuck around for so long? As with any good story, they speak truth into our lives. Whether it is a fear of the greater world (Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel). From being orphaned in a cold world (Cinderella) jealousy (Snow White), or even being used (Rumpelstiltskin).

The original tales are far more gruesome than the sanitized versions that are more familiar. It is not always about the princess being rescued. More so they are about survival. To be aware of the evils and harshness this world holds forth.

In fact the world is still a rather frightening place. In so many ways, we use story to figure out it out. To process all the bad things we see and hear on the news. We long to believe that good overcomes evil. That the bad people will be found out and suffer the consequences. And the good people will be rewarded.

In story we can correct injustice, and all the failings of the world around us. Somehow we can gain control when in truth there is very little that can be controlled. Much has changed in the world, but not our desire to attempt to control what we fear.

My favorite fairy tale growing up was Rumpelstiltskin. It was such a different tale than all the rest. In it a young girls father lies to the king that she can spin straw into gold. Which for whatever reason the king believes and forces the girl to sit in a roomful of straw to spin into gold. How can she ever get out of this? Suddenly a strange little man appears and offers to help her, for a price of course. Each time the little man helps her, the price goes up and up.

I won’t give away the ending, I suggest finding the tale on your own. What appeals to me about this tale is how she fights back. How determined she is to no longer be used and turn the tables on this strange little man. It was perhaps the first time I realized that I could fight back. That I was not as powerless as I believed. That was an amazing lesson for me.

what have you learned or taken away from fairy tales?

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