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Elements of violence, cruelty, and abuse in Grimms' tales


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Elements of violence, cruelty, and abuse in Grimms' tales

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Elements of violence, cruelty, and abuse in Grimms' tales

  1. 1. Elements of Violence, Cruelty, and Abuse in Grimms’ Tales By Matthew Taylor
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Children live through fairytales and popular stories. </li></ul><ul><li>Parents read their children colorful books, decorate their rooms in various fairytale themes, organize costume birthday or Halloween parties, and introduce a wonderful world of cartoons and movies from Walt Disney Studios. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Tales by Brothers Grimm became a vital part of literature and countless lives of children around the world. </li></ul><ul><li>They are published in more than seventy different languages. </li></ul><ul><li>The original tales contain elements of violence, cruelty, and abuse. </li></ul>Introduction
  4. 4. Historic Overview <ul><li>Brothers Grimm collected tales from middle class females and those who came from aristocratic circles. </li></ul><ul><li>The origins of the tales were Indo-European with emphasis on patriarchal authority and Protestantism as well as domestication of women (Zipes 159). </li></ul><ul><li>Published their first collection of Nursery and Household Tales in 1812 ( Michaelis-Jena 266) . </li></ul>
  5. 5. Historic Overview <ul><li>Degh implies that the Grimms’ tales were originally intended for scholars; </li></ul><ul><li>However, their successful demand and popularity made them more accessible for younger audience (88). </li></ul>
  6. 6. Displays of Violence <ul><li>Violence is displayed in various forms throughout Grimms’ tales where forty heroines out of more than two hundred tales are abused and tortured (Stone 43). </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Stepmother and stepsisters despise her. </li></ul><ul><li>When she loses her shoe, and the prince is looking for her, Cinderella’s stepmother orders one of her daughters to cut off her toe since she will not be walking on foot once she becomes a queen. </li></ul><ul><li>The birds sing that the girl has blood in her shoe (Ashliman 21). </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Cinderella’s stepmother orders her other daughter cut off her toe to be able to fit in the shoe. </li></ul><ul><li>Once the prince finds out that Cinderella is the one he is looking for, the birds peck stepsisters’ eyes out. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Snow-White <ul><li>According to the translation from the original tale, the stepmother tries to kill Snow-White on three different occasions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses bodice lace to suffocate her stepdaughter, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Combs Snow-White’s hair with the poisonous comb, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finally, she kills the girl with a poisonous apple. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Snow-White <ul><li>When the prince rescues Snow-White, his people punish the queen: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Then they put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead” (Ashliman 53). </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Robber Bridegroom <ul><li>The girl is supposed to get married, and her future husband lures her to his castle in the middle of dark forest where he and his friends murder and eat women: </li></ul><ul><li>“ They gave her (another maiden) wine to drink, three glasses full, one glass of white, one glass of red, and one glass of yellow, which caused her heart to break. Then they ripped off her fine clothes, laid her on a table, chopped her beautiful body in pieces and sprinkled salt on it” (Ashliman 40). </li></ul>
  12. 12. Cruelty and Child Abuse <ul><li>Countless examples of cruelty, child abuse and torture in the Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ children and sacrificed for the well-being of a friend; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>older brothers are condemned to death at the birth of a daughter; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a child is fed to the father by the mother; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a daughter’s hands are cut of by the father” (94). </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. The Juniper Tree <ul><li>Stepmother offers her stepson an apple and decapitates him with the lid of the chest “and his head flew off, falling among the red apples” (Ashliman 47). </li></ul><ul><li>Stepmother chops his body and cooks stew out of him. </li></ul><ul><li>His father eats the stew when he comes home. </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Juniper Tree <ul><li>The bones of the boy turn into a bird that sings about the events. </li></ul><ul><li>Then the bird throws the millstone on his stepmother’s head and kills her, after which he turns back into the boy. </li></ul><ul><li>The stepmother’s actions are horrific, and justice finds her; however, these examples set a twisted image of reality for young children, especially those ones who do have stepparents. </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Girl Without Hands <ul><li>The father chops her daughter’s hands off to be spared from the Devil (Ashliman 31). </li></ul><ul><li>The tale has a happy ending where the main character, her husband, and a child are reunited after Devil’s intrusions. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Educational Purpose <ul><li>Only ten per cent of the Grimms’ tales including The Wolf and The Seven Young Kids and Red Riding Hood have educational purpose for children (Degh 91). </li></ul><ul><li>They are meant to be scary but full of examples of danger in the world. </li></ul>
  17. 17. The Wolf and The Seven Young Kids <ul><li>The tale is an example of violence and cruelty in animal world of fairytales. </li></ul><ul><li>The goat “sent the kid home and to fetch scissors, and a needle and thread, and then she cut open the monster's paunch” (Ashliman 5). </li></ul><ul><li>After her children are safe, they all stuff wolf’s stomach with stones, and he drowns in a well in the end. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Conclusion <ul><li>Grimms ’ Nursery and Household Tales are a controversial topic of discussion since they were first published in 1812. </li></ul><ul><li>Not all Grimms’ tales are suitable for the younger audience because of violence, cruelty, abuse, killings, cannibalism, and torture depicted in them. </li></ul><ul><li>Parents have to use discretion when choosing a tale from original Nursery and Household Tales for their children. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Works Cited <ul><li>Ashliman, D. L. The Grimm Brothers' Children's and Household Tales (Grimm’s Fairy Tales), 2002. Web. 3 May 2010. <>. </li></ul><ul><li>Degh, Linda. “Grimm's &quot;Household Tales&quot; and Its Place in the Household: The Social Relevance of a Controversial Classic”. Western Folklore , Vol. 38, No. 2, Apr., 1979: 83-103. JSTOR – Arts and Sciences Collections . Web. 4 May 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Michaelis-Jena, Ruth. “Oral Tradition and the Brothers Grimm”. Folklore , Vol. 82, No. 4, 1971: 265-275. JSTOR – Arts and Sciences Collections . Web. 3 May 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Stone, Kay. “Things Walt Disney Never Told Us”. The Journal of American Folklore , Vol. 88, No. 347, Women and Folklore, Jan. - Mar., 1975: 42-50. JSTOR – Arts and Sciences Collections . Web. 5 May 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Tatar, Maria. The Hard Facts of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Expanded 2 nd ed . Princeton University Press, 2003. Print. </li></ul><ul><li>Zipes, Jack David. The Brothers Grimm: From Enchanted Forests to The Modern World 2 nd ed . Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Print. </li></ul>