How far removed are the fairy tales of today from their origins? Fairy tales no longer represent the same life lessons they once did. Originally, they were handed down in oral traditions, usually from mother to child, as warnings of the bad things that can happen out in the “real world.” Now they are nothing but make-believe worlds in themselves.
Names, morals, and even villains have changed. Most fairy tales have been washed of their negative connotations, and their “not always so happy” endings as well. Originally, the hero did not always save the day. In many cases, there was no hero at all, only a grave lesson to be learned about the ugliness and unfairness of life.
What few villains we had left in them are now being “tamed,” it would seem. Does this still teach a much needed lesson, or is it now a totally different animal altogether? Perhaps the real lesson in modern fairy tales is that there are so many gray areas that good and evil are now relative. Either way, this is very far removed from their origins.
Take Sleeping Beauty, for example. Even in the first written tales it was a very different story. First written down by Giambattista Basile in 1634, our beauty was originally named Talia. There is no evil fairy godmother to be found, and her sleeping illness is caused instead by poison flax.
This is only the beginning of her trouble. There is no “love’s first kiss” for poor Talia. She is instead raped by a passing nobleman, and awakens nine months later to find twins, one of whom has mistakenly suckled on her thumb, removing the poison flax splinter from it, and freeing her of its sway.
Oh, but it gets worse still when the nobleman’s wife finds out, but I have told quite enough to prove my point. Graphic though they may be, such stories would probably be far more poignant in today’s world than the watered down versions we have now. They may even do far better at the box office as well!