Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Two - Characters from Fairy Tales

Traditional fairy tales of course are filled with magic with witches and wizards often featuring in the stories associated with the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and others. It's no coincidence that the most well known and best loved stories for children, often classic tales of the battle between good and evil, are fantasy based and involve magic. These range from the myths and legends prevalent in ancient cultures through classic tales like Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and Cinderella, through Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, and Peter Pan, to the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and many more. 

Many stories that have become more familiar with children, often mostly from Disney movies, are filled with strong magical themes and recognizable characters. Cinderella has her wicked stepmother and sisters, along with her fairy godmother, a warm hearted grandmotherly figure. The Sword in the Stone has a bumbling old man version of Merlin tutoring the young Arthur, but Merlin is also a powerful wizard who is dangerous to his enemies, and also offers counsel and acts as a loyal friend to the future king. In Beauty and the Beast, the prince has been cursed and the enchantment can only be lifted by true love, a frequent theme of sacrifice in tales involving magic.

1 comment:

Linda Moore Kurth said...

I remember when Harry Potter burst onto the scene, there was a faction that denounced the magic. Such nonsense. Bruno Bettelheim explored the reasons children respond to magical stories in his, THE USESOF ENCHANTMENT: The Meaning and importance of Fairy Tales. Quite enlightening.