Fairytales weren’t always for children

Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier Copy Editor

The words “fairy tale” hadn’t crossed my mind until this semester when I decided to take RHW 102 with Dr. Mullins. She bases her class around fairy tales and how we can learn to write research papers based off scholars who study them. As a freshman in college, I was confused. I thought fairy tales were just for little kids to use as bedtime stories and things like that. How were we supposed to spend an entire semester researching them? 

Turns out, originally fairy tales were intended for adults. They were a way for writers to express morals to young women and men. These original fairytales also contained intense themes and sexual content that made them inappropriate for younger children. It wasn’t until other writers began to adapt the original tales that we began seeing what we now know as our childhood fairy tales. 

Most tales recounted today are usually the adaptations from the Grimm Brothers. They used their writings as ways to teach morals to young children. The best example of this is Little Red Riding Hood. In this popular tale, the moral is the importance of listening to your parents. 

Throughout this semester, there has been a question that has been looming over my head: are fairy tales truly just meant for children? I mean if they were originally for adults, then why shouldn’t they still be? Being in this class, studying these tales, has changed my perspective. There’s an entire discourse community devoted to analyzing and discussing the meaning of fairy tales. 

Professors across the country spend their entire careers studying these tales and how the morals of the tales affect children. Not only that, but studying fairy tales is also a great way to explore different cultures. 

Every time another author comes along to re-create their own version of a tale, they add in parts of their culture and their experiences to make it unique and personal. 

There’s a world of fairy tales out there that I am beginning to research and become a part of. The more I get into it, the more I learn that fairy tales are meant for older audiences as well as younger ones. 

When I went back to reread some of these old tales, I learned a whole new side of them, filled with morals and insights. I encourage you to pick up those old tales you used to read. Reread them. They might bring some new bursts of knowledge and insights of ideas and themes you never realized.

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