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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall... Which Is the Scariest of Them All?

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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall... Which Is the Scariest of Them All?

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  • October 1999
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"In children you should never let such angry passions rise; their little hands were never made to tear each other's eyes." ~ Isaac Watts
The fairytale is often an entertaining story of miraculous and supernatural happenings. Its purpose is to galvanize the depths of our minds in such a way as to make us a part of the landscape, bound only by the limits of our own imaginations. However, it is this very ‘free-for-all' fantasy land that poses a very real threat to its intended audience – children. Both traditional and contemporary fairytales experienced by children can have harmful effects on a child's psyche. This is especially true when children are exposed to these fairytales during the early stages of psychological development.

When do we most often expose children to the fairytale? More likely than not, we use the tales to ‘comfort' our children, perhaps to calm them down, in the form of bedtime stories. But, have you ever really thought about the messages we give to a child through the words of these fairytales? ‘Snow White' advocates divorce and black magic. There's justified homicide and cannibalism in ‘Hansel & Gretel', mass murder in ‘Blue Beard', as well as betrayal and pre-meditated murder in the ‘Lion King'. Is it any wonder, then, that the child comes running or sits screaming and crying because he's afraid to be baked in the oven - or maybe he feared that since Cruella DeVille is so persistent to skin those little puppies, that she might be apt to do the same to little boys! We try to reassure them that it was just a fairytale – that it was just make-believe. But how can we expect a child to take our word that it's not real? Especially since we constantly portray ourselves as hypocrites when we threaten that we will "get the boogie man after you if you don't eat all of your peas, young man!"

Since the early 19th century, many fairytales have been the center of stark criticism causing heated discussion among the world's...

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