Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dark Tales

Vilhelm Pedersen, The Little Mermaid

I've been reading fairy tales again... I know, who reads that but little children? But, no, these are not the mouse-ears version, the happily ever after tales with the princess riding off into the sunset with the prince (who, incidentally never really talks in the movies). The original Andersen stories are dark and terrible with lots of mutilation and death. Cinderella's stepsister, for instance, hacks off her toes to try to fit into the glass slipper. Or take the Little Mermaid. In Andersen, she falls in love with the Prince, but the Prince marries another so on their wedding night, the little mermaid is supposed to kill the prince so that she can return to her mermaid life. But... she doesn't. She instead commits suicide by throwing herself into the water and is transformed into spirit. Yet, how many of us know THIS story? Do we all really need the happy ending? Is Andersen's telling just too dark? ARE we happier buying into the Disneyfied version of the world?

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