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P. 1
Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland

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Published by Piku Chowdhury

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Published by: Piku Chowdhury on Sep 20, 2012
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FINDING NEVERLAND : READING FAIRY TALESPiku ChowdhuryLecturer[ English ], Satyapriya Roy College of Education
 Deeper meaning lies in the fairy tales of my childhood than in the truth that life teaches
-Schille A fairy tale is a little snippet of life. It can be said to be a fantasized stray portraying the goodnessand evil in life. It is often told in a manner in which children can relate and understand. We adultshave forgotten what it was to be a child. But the fairy tales appeal to our imagination as we focuson the hard facts of reality with a relaxed and positive attitude. However the sediments of classicfairy tales continue to be implicated in contemporary discourses of gender, power andconsumption, reflecting and shaping of deeper ideological tendencies. In fact juvenile literature isvery much a cultural construct that continues to evolve over time. The boundaries betweenchildren’s literature and adult literature are surprisingly fluid. John Rowe Townsend once arguedthat the only practical definition of a children’s book is one that appears on the children’s list by a publisher. J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a good example.At the beginning of the nineteenth century, fairy and folk tales were considered inappropriate reading material for children, especially among the middleclass. Puritans viewed them as a form of witchcraft, and both Locke and Rousseau warned againsttheir frightening aspects, preferring stories of daily life. Mary Sherwood was the most strict writer of the moral tale and the author of the popular The
 History of the Fairchild Family
(1818–1847),which was intended to provide the reader with religious education. At one point in the book, after the Fairchild children quarrel, to teach them a lesson their father shows them a decaying body of aman who was executed for killing his brother. Sarah Trimmer's
 Fabulous Histories
(1786) is a talein which a family of robins teaches moral values. Trimmer also edited
The Guardian of Education
(1802–1806), a journal for parents and tutors, which was one of the first to evaluate children's books and to attempt a history of children's literature.Attitudes toward fairy tales as children's literature changed during the nineteenth century whenJacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their two-volume collection
 Kinderund Hausmärchen
(1812–1815) in Germany. The Grimms were part of the German romantic movement and, withother writers for adults–including Ludwig Bechstein, Clemens Brentano, and E. T. A. Hoffmann– championed the folk tale and the literary fairy tale. The Grimms were attempting to collect and preserve German folklore for other scholars, but when Edgar Taylor translated the tales intoEnglish as
German Popular Stories
(1823–1826), he revised and redirected the tales for children.George Cruikshank illustrated the volumes, and his humorous designs were praised by JohnRuskin. The popularity of the Grimm's fairy tales as children's literature was heightened by the publication of Charles Perrault's
 Histories
. His artful and moral collection of eight fairy tales wastranslated as
 Histories
, or 
Tales of Past Times
in 1729 by Robert Samber. The literary fairy taleswritten by Perrault are often referred to as
The Tales of Mother Goose
or simply
 Mother Goose'sTales
.
 
Fairy tales became fashionable among adults in the French court at the end of the seventeenthcentury as a result of Perrault's publication and of Marie-Catherine Aulnoy's publication in thesame year of Stories of the fairies. Aulnoy's collection of literary fairy tales was translated intoEnglish in 1699 as The History of Tales of the Fairies. Another influential French writer of literaryfairy tales was Marie Beaumont, who immigrated to England in 1745, where she published
TheYoung Misses Magazine
(1757). The work features the conversations of a governess with her  pupils and includes a number of fairy tales, the best known being her version of "Beauty and theBeast."Perrault's fairy tales gradually were adopted as children's texts known collectively as tales of Mother Goose. Aulnoy's fairy tales were identified as the tales of Mother Bunch and became the basis for many pantomines, a Victorian family theatrical entertainment.Henry Cole, under the pseudonym Felix Summerly, edited the influential series of children's books, The Home Treasury (1843–1847), which helped rehabilitate the reputation of fairy tales asappropriate children's fare. Cole wanted the series to develop imagination in children and also tocounteract the attacks on fairy tales by writers such as Trimmer and Sherwood. Moreover, theseries was intended as an alternative to the enormously popular information books written by Peter Parley. Parley was the pen name of Samuel Goodrich, a prolific American writer of information books who considered fairy tales and nursery rhymes coarse and vulgar. The Home Treasury, withits numerous fairy tales and works of imaginative literature, was conceived by Cole as anti-Peter Parleyism. The constant battle over fairy tales, an impulse that pits the value of stories of ordinarylife against imaginative and fantastical texts, is a debate that regularly appears in the history of children's literature. With the publication of HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN's Eventyr, fortaltefor bo § rn (Tales, told for children; 1835, 1843, 1858, 1861) into English in 1848, the triumph of the fairy tale as legitimate children's literature was complete.Beginning with the fathers of the field, Sigmund Freud andCarl Jung, psychoanalysts have turned to fairy tales in an effort to understand the human mind.This is accomplished in two ways—either by studying the psychology and needs of the creators of these stories or by examining the characters in the stories. Just as many fairy tales hinge upon arevelation of the truth about those who have been somehow disguised, so too, fairy tales cut to theessence of the human psyche. Freud suspected that dreams and fairy tales stem from the same place, and the relaxation of inhibition that occurs in the dream state is also true of many storytellers. So fairy tales might prove, like dreams, windows into the unconscious. (Indeed, many fairytales include dream-states as important plot points.) For Freud fairy tales are rife with wishfulfillment fantasies and complicated sexual undercurrents. Fairy tales are inextricably linked tothe work of Carl Jung. The “collective unconscious” that lies at the core of his work, and which he believed is shared by all human beings, is revealed through archetypes, forms and symbols foundin ample evidence in fairy tales. Some Jungians argue that one reason fairy tales appeal to childrenis that they are in a stage of their development only slightly removed from deeper layers of thecollective unconscious. Jungian therapists study fairy tales to help analyze the dreams of their  patients. Jung’s disciples have gone on to interpret fairy tales as lives in miniature, suggesting, for example, that each character within a tale may represent an aspect of personality. More recently, perhaps the best known and certainly the most widely quoted psychologist to incorporate fairytales into his practice is Bruno Bettelheim, who published Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and
 
Importance of Fairy Tales in 1976. Bettelheim argued that fairy tales are an important tool for children learning to navigate reality and survive in a world ruled by adults. The family conflictsand moral education of the protagonists (conveniently often children themselves) could providemodels of coping. “Fairy tales are loved by the child…because—despite all the angry, anxiousthoughts in his mind to which the fairy tale gives body and specific context—these stories alwaysresult in a happy outcome, which the child cannot imagine on his own.” Others have disputedaspects of this interpretation. The German cultural critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin notesthat the morality of fairy tales is very complicated, with protagonists known to lie, cheat, steal andtorture villains. But there remains something empowering and psychologically insightful in thesestories that, fairy tale scholar Maria Tatar writes, demonstrate the “triumph of small and weak over tall and powerful.”A fairytale is a narrative that transforms consciousness. Thehero is that aspect of the psyche that functions in accordance with the Self, often the inferior function of the personality, to build up the ego, keep it going, and enlarging it. The hero is also amodel and pattern for the right kind of behavior. The psyche is composed of two parts-consciousand unconscious. The transcendent function is that property of the psyche that strives to bring thetwo parts together. It is a symbol - a combination of rational (conscious) and irrational(unconscious) material. The transcendent function transforms both conscious and unconscious. Thealchemists called it the
tertium non datu
and said “for those who have a symbol, thetransformation is easier.” The transcendent function can be any image that connects both consciousand unconscious realms. For example, a bridge, a ferryman, messenger, rainbow, or an “ah ha!”moment. The transcendent function comes into play only when the two opposing positions areequally strong and the ego is strong enough to hold the tension. When one integrates the symbolinto consciousness the energy that is blocked can flow again. The fairy tale also leads to anelevation or transcendence like Dante’s lover who climbs a hill and is aided in reaching the top byBeatrice, his lady love. The ugly duckling, the match girl, the frog prince are all tales of arduous journeys through trials and tribulations upto a certain point beyond which they can strive no moreand their hands rise in yearning and supplication whence their prayer is answered in form of magical metamorphosis or suggestions of divine assistance. Hans Christian Anderson’s little boywho is much abused ,sits in a shabby hut , wishfully looking at the moon through a hole in the roof and one day the moon beam becomes a staircase which he climbs to reach a realm of eternaltranquility and joy.There is one effect-evil, and one affect-anger, which, because of the ethical issues they raise, ask us to examine them carefully. In her book,
Shadow and  Evil in Fairy Tales
, Marie-Louise von Franz explored the nature of evil and the collectiveknowledge about how to deal it with it. Von Franz demonstrated that fairytales differentiate between cold evil and hot evil. Cold evil is the penultimate, an icy state, where emotion is frozen,rigid, and petrified. There is a kind of destruction that is so senseless, unconscionable, so evil, thatthe visceral emotion surpasses fear and anger and numbs into horror. In the face of this experienceone is paralyzed, immobile, unable to protect oneself, either temporarily or permanently. Hot evil,although repressed, is smoldering, unquenched, infectious emotional affect. Von Franz likens hotevil to the emotionality, rage, and aggressiveness. He believed that to early humans, evil was“simply the appearance of something demonic or abnormal, a kind of overpowering nature phenomenon, which does not pose any ethical problem but the purely practical one of how to either 

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