The grim reality behind fairytales

“And then they all lived happily ever after…” A phrase almost every person has heard countless times. It comes from fairytales, the fairytales we incessantly share with children for reasons unknown. After all, these stories have never been on the realistic side but after further discovery, these stories have incredibly disturbing origins. German authors Wilhelm Carl Grimm and Jacob Grimm (The Brothers Grimm) are often credited with being the “keepers of modern-day fairytales”; however, the tales the brothers wrote are far different from modern-day fairytales. These stories they wrote are filled with disturbing material that is unpleasant for even the general public.

In the original tale “Snow White” written by the Brothers Grimm, the evil queen orders a huntsman to kill Snow White. However the queen goes above and beyond and requests proof of Snow White’s death, in the form of Snow White’s liver and lungs. The Huntsman spares Snow White because of her beauty so he instead kills a wild boar and brings the Queen the boar’s liver and lungs. In this original tale, the Queen wants more than to just keep the lungs and liver. So, she cooks them, and eats them. Far different than the cute fairytale of Snow White singing to animals and dwarfs, this tale has cannibalism. Maybe not the perfect bedtime story. 

But it doesn’t stop there, Rapunzel’s story is different as well. In the tale that the Brothers Grimm wrote, Rapuzel’s story is based off of a girl who was locked captive in a tower by her controlling father and ultimately led to her getting tortured and beheaded. Already there wasn’t much positive influence. Also in the original tale, Rapunzel’s prince sneaks into the tower and leaves Rapunzel pregnant, much to the anger of her mother who sends her off into the street to live the life of a beggar while baring a child. 

In Hansel and Gretel, the two children are left alone as their parents leave them in a great famine. The children begin starving to death when an evil cannibalistic witch invites them to have a feast at her house. They follow her but soon realize she plans to eat them and instead of escaping and “living happily ever after” the children finish their feast and then kill her. It seems clear that there are a lot more important, concerning takeaways from this story rather than leaving a trail of breadcrumbs (which is not even practical).

Finally, the most disturbing tale, Sleeping Beauty. In the actual Sleeping Beauty, there was no true love’s kiss that woke her up. Instead, the prince made her fall unconscious and sexually assaulted Sleeping Beauty in her sleep. He left and moved on with his life and Sleeping beauty was awoken by her own child, which she now had, and a new prince. Then the old prince heard Sleeping Beauty now had children and burned his old wife alive so he could come back.

Fairytales send unrealistic messages and the places that they stem from are disturbing and alarming. In real life, we shouldn’t encourage the unsettling actions that occur in fairy tales for children.. Maybe we should invest in some non-fiction, realistic stories to tell them instead.

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