Monday, May 13, 2013

Final Blog

This class has definitely been a whirlwind of reading to say the least. And some of the fairy tales we read were more than lengthy! And there are so many different interpretations of all the different tales, sometimes it's difficult to keep track of them all! But all in all, it's been enjoyable to learn about all the different variations of the classic tales that I grew up with. I know that when I was little, I felt like the variations I was told and I learned about were the only ones in the world: only Disney tales mattered. But as I grew older I knew there had to be more than the just the Disney variations and I went searching. Through my searches I found many variations from all different countries. But of course the most famous tales that I found more than any others were the Brothers Grimm tales. As a German major, I've learned about the Grimm brothers and their tales more than the average person, and that definitely gave me a bit of an advantage for this class. I knew their writing style and knew what to expect from them. However the other tales were sometimes shocking and intrigued me from their various literature styles.
I first thought that this class was going to strictly analyze the different stories, but this class has gone so much deeper than just the surface. We've picked every aspect of each tale apart and now I know of all of the themes and archetypes of all the tales we studied.
I'm very appreciative of all the things Dr. Esa has taught us throughout the course of the semester and I'm very glad I chose this as my S.I.S. My ability to analyze has definitely improved over the course of the semester and this is a skill that I'll carry with me always.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dr. Ochieng's lecture

Out of the two guest speakers that came into our class, both were entertaining and intriguing to learn/hear about. But there was something special about Dr. Ochieng's lecture in particular. I really liked the fact that he was so engaged in getting the audience to take part in the fun. We sang songs and danced. It was really fun and it showed his personality. He's a fun guy and wants everyone else to feel the same. What I admired most about his lecture was the fact that he knew his stories so well. He didn't have to read off a power point or out of a book to tell his amazing tales. It's because his entire culture is based off of story telling. I admire that so much and I envy his culture that story telling is such a huge part of everyday life. I could never be able to tell stories the way Dr. Ochieng does.
I found the stories to be a lot different from European fairy/folktales we're accustomed to. I find that whereas stories in our culture seem to be (to me) merely for entertainment purposes, don't hold the weight that African culture does with story telling. It brings the entire community together at the night time to end the day and also to escape their problems, much how we go to the movie theaters to indulge in entertainment and escape from our sometimes mundane lives. I see more of a message in African literature than in the tales we grew up with. The stories celebrate quick wit and thinking where in the stories I remember hearing growing up, the main character relied too much on the help of other people and sometimes magic to get through their problems rather than using their own logic.
With Dr. Alles, I feel like he spent too much time talking about his personal experiences with the cultures of the Adivasi people and not enough about the stories their culture is founded on. As interesting it was to see that he spent a fair amount of time in such a different culture, I would have liked to hear more stories rather than seeing pictures and videos of his trip. Not to dismiss his lecture in the least. It was intriguing and the stories we were presented were very interesting and much different than anything I've ever heard before. I really do prefer Dr. Ochieng's lecture. I would love to be able to hear more tales from him. More speakers need to be like him and engage the audience and be well prepared and show that they know what they're presenting about, much like him.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rags to Riches

In all the tales we've read of "Cinderella" a girl is faced with misfortunes at the hand of her evil stepmother and stepsisters. She works in a low position and is extremely unhappy with the way things are going for her. That is until she goes to a ball (or in other cases, a feast) and ends up marrying a prince and living happily ever after while her stepmother and stepsisters usually don't receive such a gracious ending. But is this a realistic theme? Even in the movie Pretty Woman, Vivian, a prostitute, leaves her previous life when she meets Edward, a rich business man, and they fall in love. Is this idea so far-fetched and impossible? A person is completely capable of finding happiness and wealth in someone through the aspect of marriage. It's not impossible to marry someone of a better standing than you, especially in our society today. Charm can definitely make you a more successful person. If you're more charming than the average person, people will take that into account and you'll find yourself in more positive situations and you have the opportunity to better your life just through the idea of optimism. But magic on the other hand, does not exist in our world. So we cannot rely on that to bring us to a wealthier/richer standard. That is the only part of Cinderella that I am not fond of. I understand that this is a fairy tale and magic is a huge aspect of it. But since we live in such a world where we can't rely on magic, I find this story hard to relate to. We have only ourselves and our hard perseverance to get us to a higher standard of life. I have no fairy godmother to rely on to give me lavish gifts so I can "woo" my prince charming in the hopes that he'll whisk me away from my dull life into a world completely unlike my own. I only have myself. I can only depend on myself to make my dreams and inner desires come true. And that's the reality that I feel we should be teaching children. Through hard work and perseverance  all your dreams can come true.

Monday, April 1, 2013


In all the variations of Bluebeard we read for class, I noticed the heroin was not particularly smart. She let her curiosity get the better of her even when her menacing husband told her not to do something. Go against the creepy guy with the blue beard? I don't think so. However, there was one tale where the girl was actually rather witty; The Robber Bridegroom by The Brothers Grimm. In the very beginning of the tale, the girl is being married away by her father, to a man she does not trust. This is the first thing I like about this tale. In all the other tales, the girl does not question the Bluebeard figure's trust. This tale, she finds no reason to trust him. And all in good reason! The girl follows the trail her betrothed left for her with ashes deep into the forest. Along the way, she drops peas and lentils so she can find her way back. These items she drops signify life as later in the story they grow into huge plants that guide her way home when the ashes have all but blown away. The ashes symbolize death and the fact that nothing good will come of her going to his home. She reached the house and it appeared abandoned. Nonetheless she went inside and found that no one was there but a voice called out to her and told her to leave the house because it was the house of murderers. She wandered around the house until she found an old woman. The woman was horrified that this poor and innocent girl had happened upon such a terrible place. The woman herself had been plotting her own escape for the house and planned to help get the girl out as well. The girl is told to hide behind a barrel until the murderers fall asleep, then they will make their escape.

Then all the murderers come into the house with a poor girl and in their drunken stupor, they gave her so much wine that her heart burst. They then tore off her clothes and chopped her body into pieces to make her into a fine feast for them. One of the men saw a ring on the girl's finger and tried to pry it off but to no avail. He took an ax and chopped her finger off and it went flying right into the girl's lap behind the barrel. The man went to go looking for it but the old woman stopped him and said that there was no use because the finger wasn't going to go anywhere. The woman put a few drops of sleeping potion into the men's wine and in no time they were asleep and the two women made their escape. As the ashes had blown away with the winds, the peas and lentils that were dropped sprouted and marked the way for the women. Upon the girl's return, she told her father everything that happened.
On the day of the wedding the girl's husband appeared with all of his "friends" and they sat down for dinner. Everyone was prompted to tell a story and the girl decided to reveal her husbands misdeeds in a witty tale. She unraveled the tale saying it was a dream and in the end she revealed that the story was in fact true, by pulling the finger of the dead girl with the ring upon it out for everyone to see. The man tried to escape but the wedding guests stopped him and he and his group of murdering friends were executed for their crimes.
This story makes sense! Along with the help of a character who helps the girl escape the house of murderers, she actually uses her common sense to get herself out of this predicament; which is something you don't see in the other tales. She never lets her curiosity get the best of her and she foresees something going wrong with her shady fiance and decides not to trust him. I feel like this is the only story that doesn't make the heroin out to be a disobeying bimbo and actually makes her a well-rounded and witty character.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rammstein's music video "Sonne" begins with the 'dwarfs' working in a dark mine. They work and one day Snow White comes into their house. From watching the music video, one can gather that the dwarfs slave away in the mine to bring gold back to Snow White, which she uses as a drug (which she later overdoses on). If they fail to bring back gold for her, Snow White will punish them (i.e. in the form of spanking). However, if they bring back gold they are rewarded in a form of pleasure; this is not sexual, but one can see the dwarfs taking pleasure from the things Snow White allows them to do for her like brushing her hair or hugging her. As they hug her, one can see the need the dwarfs have for her. Even though she causes them pain; they need her. Like the sun, it nurtures and gives life but also has the ability to cause pain and kill.
From the stories we read in class we know that Snow White (or the character that resembles her) is kind and far from cruel. She was never demanding of the dwarfs. They wanted to please her on their own whim and were not punished for displeasing her. The music video by Rammstein gives Snow White a more sexual appeal. One could see in the stories that the dwarfs believed Snow White to be the most beautiful of all but never viewed her in a sexual way because she was waiting for her prince. But you can clearly see that the dwarfs in the music video want to please Snow White for sexual gratification (or to please a fetish). At the end of the music video, the dwarfs place the "dead" Snow White in a glass coffin and place it on top of the hill. All of the dwarfs are upset/sad due to the death of their "sun". A single apple falls from the tree over top of the coffin and cracks the glass. Snow White catches the apple and wakes up from her slumber. The dwarfs are then seen working in the mine once more.
I always find Rammstein videos to be a work of imagination and rather amusing. This one fits that as well. Although I did find it enjoyable and interesting to watch I actually found it disturbing. I know Rammstein well and understand that they are not your typical metal group; they're strange and break many boundaries. I'm very used to the traditional tales of Snow White (much like the Disney version) and the stories that we read in class that are from different cultures didn't bother me too much. But this music video made me rather uncomfortable. I did not like the way Snow White was portrayed. She looked extremely provocative and although she nurtured the dwarfs as their "sun" she also punishes them  if they displease her. I'm used to Snow White being nothing but caring and sweet, so seeing this extremely opposite side to her character was jarring to me.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Jungian View of Fairy Tales

From the Jungian perspective, Fairy Tales all have a set pattern or archetype that make it a fairy tale. Major archetypes include: persona, ego, shadow, self and anima/animus. The most common are: the wise old man (Dumbledore, Gandalf- this character usually meets a horrible fate and is not there to help the hero finish his quest), primeval forest, evil stepmother, eternal child (like Peter Pan), trickster (Norse God, Loki), the shadow, anima/animus ( found in the unconscious of a male with feminine personality traits, found in the unconscious of a female with masculine personality traits) and self. In every single fairy tale you read, you can find at least one, if not more, of these archetypes. According to Jung these archetypes are apropos. These Jungian viewpoints are a mapping system (structure/skeleton) as to what a tale contains, every tale. Also outlined is the journey of the hero. The hero must go through a certain number of stages to complete his journey. First the hero is seen to be withdrawn and detached. Because of his/her behavior they must undergo a transformation. Through this transformation they will learn the error of their ways and will re-transform and return to teach his/her findings of their wrongdoings. They will then be separated from their path. From their they will have their initiation and finally, their rebirth (they will finally be free from their curse/whatever mistakes they had to learn from and be "born again" as a person with all the knowledge they were lacking prior to their journey. Therefore making them a better and more developed person). 
The entire relationship between Fairy Tales and Jungian Psychology is based on the fact that they are linked together. The entire scheme of Jungian Psychology can be used to accurately describe the elements found in Fairy Tales.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Red Riding Hood Cartoon

This image is from one of my favorite comic strips in the newspaper: Mother Goose And Grimm. When we were told to look for a cartoon, my mind immediately went to Mother Goose and Grimm. It's a twist of Fairy Tales in the name itself. Mother Goose and The Grimm Brothers. These comics however, are not all based on Fairy Tales but I knew that someone in their archive they would have had to do Little Red Riding Hood at some point. And in fact, they had several. But I found this image to be the most profound.
The image depicts red riding hood at a bar with a martini glass in front of her. The bartender is telling her that her drink has already been paid for and we see the wolf sitting on the opposite end of the bar with a blank expression on his face.
In our society we know that if someone is to buy you a drink at a bar/club, they have an interest in you and would like to pursue something whether it be dancing, talking, drinking together, or even "hooking up". Through analysis of the story of Little Red Riding Hood, we know that the wolf is a symbol of seduction. He wanted to eat the little girl up and he did, to satisfy a hunger. In the story he uses his cunning and wit to earn the trust of the girl so he can lure her in and eat her. In this comic, he attempts to lure her in by winning her over by buying her a drink.
I really think this comic was actually well thought out due to the fact that this could be a modernized version of the classic tale. Essentially both are conveying ways of earning the trust of a pretty girl. One way was tricking her into thinking the wolf was someone she could trust (grandmother) and this comic is essentially bribery. A tactic which women of this day and age are all too familiar with and fall for much too easily. Because they crave the attention of the person who is buying them a drink. Just like Little Red craves the attention she desires from her Father.

Cartoonist: Mike Peters