“How have I become who I am today?” This is a question that adults ponder on a daily basis. There is a large amount of resources such as authoritative figures, books and experiences, which can influence your character. There is however, an important force that contributes to a human’s characteristics today- fairytales. Fairytales are fanciful tale of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children. What is not known though is what effect a fairytale has on a person today. Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment, reveals a revelation on the enormous value of fairytales. In order to support Bettelheim’s theories the fairytales The Princess and the Frog, The Little Mermaid, The Mouse Princess and The Seventh Father of the House have been analyzed. Theories similar to Bettelheim’s by psychologists Sigmund Freud, Renee Hall and Jack Zipes are used to describe the meanings and importance of these fairytales. Characters representation in these fairytales support psychologists' theories such as those in Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment that suggest that fairytales have an influence on children through the principles of reality versus pleasure principle, self discovery and approach to problems.
Representation of characters in the fairytales Princess and the Frog, The Little Mermaid and The Mouse Princess, support psychologists Bruno Bettelheim and Sigmund Freud's theories that suggest fairytales contribute to progress in a child through recognition of pleasure to the reality of life. Bruno Bettelheim develops the concept of the moral conscience first explored by Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud's theories says, " The commands of the moral conscience come from the personal perception and appropriation of values which we discover in the stories or examples of persons we want to be like". (SG1) Freud means to say that our thoughts come from our perceptions of stories or persons that we wish to be like. Bettelheim builds on this theory, and further explains, " Identification with [characters] teaches that there are developments-possibilities of progress from the pleasure principle to the reality principle". (UE43) Bettelheim means that fairytales can help a child realize the difference between pleasure and reality, through the solutions characters find to their problems. For example, in the fairytale The Princess and the Frog, the main character Tiana is characterized as a girl who wishes upon an Evening Star. Tiana therefore finds pleasure in believing that her dreams can come true by wishing on the star. Reality is shown to Tiana by her father though, when he says, " ...that old star can only take you part of the way, you've got to help it along with some hard work of your own." (P&F8) From this fairytale, a child can learn that success takes work and dedication, and that one must not believe in success coming instantly. Another fairytale where the reality versus pleasure principle can be shown is The Little Mermaid. Like Tiana, the little mermaid is a character who seeks pleasure in dreams of transforming from mermaid to human. The mermaid's reality though, shows in the excerpt that says, " A two-edged sword seemed to thrust itself through her delicate body; she fainted, and lay as though dead." (LM61) Children can learn that in reality, a sacrifice, big or small, sometimes has to be made in order to achieve your goals in life. In the story The Mouse Princess, pleasure is shown by the Prince's brothers when they choose beauty in order to find success. Reality is shown to the brothers though, when the authors says," Indeed, there was little to choose between them for looks and arrogance." (MP206/207) The Prince's brothers find that their wives were not adequate enough. A child gets the message from this fairytale that there are consequences when one does not search for quality in order to gain their desires in life. CONCLUSION
The character's representation in the fairytales Princess and the Frog, The...
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