Gretel's Story: Finding the Way Home


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Hansel and Gretel find their way into the 21st century. This is a look at the Grimm Brothers' beloved story from a postmodern perspective.

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Gretel's Story: Finding the Way Home

  1. 1. Gretel’s Story: Finding the Way Home by Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.
  2. 2. The story of Hansel and Gretel is very old. It was probably around for hundreds of years before the Grimm Brothers wrote it down.
  3. 3. Some parts of the story may have originated in the Great Famine (1315 – 1321).
  4. 4. Historians say that desperate parents abandoned their children in order to save themselves.
  5. 5. The story has lived on and taken many forms.
  6. 6. It remains popular with children…
  7. 7. …and with adults.
  8. 8. Folklorists have been intrigued by Hansel and Gretel…
  9. 9. …and so have psychologists.
  10. 10. The story is rich in themes.
  11. 11. Hansel and Gretel struggle with…  good vs. evil  a dysfunctional family  abandonment  betrayal  emptiness  hunger  fear  loyalty  courage  carbohydrates  strength vs. weakness  power
  12. 12. ―Hansel and Gretel‖ is the only fairy tale whose central character isn’t royal or endowed with magical powers…or male. The heroine is a young girl.
  13. 13. Many elements in the story seem to foreshadow modern life. Poor Hansel, locked in a cage to get fat while Gretel waits on him, is an early version of a couch potato.
  14. 14. Today we’re going to talk some important ideas embedded in the story of Hansel and Gretel.
  15. 15. First let’s think about what an ―idea‖ is. An ―idea‖ is a tool. Some ideas are useful. Some aren’t.
  16. 16. An idea that works in one situation might not be helpful in another.
  17. 17. 1. Psychologists have two ways of defining what the human organism is all about.
  18. 18. One group of psychologists takes a common-sense view. Human beings are simple organisms: What you see is what you get.
  19. 19. Other psychologists believe that we humans are complex and mysterious. Often we don’t know who we are and what we want.
  20. 20. Where would you be on this line?
  21. 21. 2. Most people have three approaches to solving difficult problems.
  22. 22. Sometimes we go to a doctor for a diagnosis and a remedy.
  23. 23. …or a teacher to learn skills and problem-solving strategies…
  24. 24. …or a spiritual guide or guru to lift us out of the dark places within us.
  25. 25. 3. We often overlook a fourth resource: The mysteries hidden within ourselves.
  26. 26. Look What They Done to My Song Look what they done to my song, ma! Look what they done to my song, ma. It was the only thing that I could do half right And it's turning out all wrong, ma. Look what they done to my song!
  27. 27. Let’s meet the witch and do something unusual with her: We’re going to look for her resources.
  28. 28. She’s surrounded by delicious food.
  29. 29. She has immense wealth inside her cottage.
  30. 30. She has a relationship with a male who is caring, industrious, and smart.
  31. 31. She has a human heart that she can turn on when she wants to.
  32. 32. Now let’s meet Hansel and Gretel’s stepmother and see what her resources are.
  33. 33. She has a hard-working husband with a loving heart.
  34. 34. She has two healthy, smart, and loving children.
  35. 35. She has a home in a beautiful forest.
  36. 36. But both the witch and the stepmother are lacking three vital qualities: •The courage to change •The ability to muster their resources •The ability to love
  37. 37. At the end of the story, both women are dead.
  38. 38. But Hansel and Gretel return home to begin a new and better life.
  39. 39. They have the three vital qualities needed to survive and thrive: •The courage to change •The ability to muster their resources •The ability to love
  40. 40. Imagination is an important resource that many of us overlook. Let’s apply it to three common problems: •anger •depression •impossible love
  41. 41. Anger Whose voice are you hearing? What is it saying?
  42. 42. Depression: Are you wet with tears and drowning…
  43. 43. Or dry and stony?
  44. 44. Impossible love: Who is the mystery lover inside you, and what is that person longing for?
  45. 45. What secrets and mysteries are hidden inside you today—right now?
  46. 46. Gretel’s Story: Finding the Way Home by Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.