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It’s Just a Fairytale

When I was in high school, an essay assignment in English class asked us to answer if Jane Eyre benefitted or suffered from a comparison to a fairytale. Contrary to what most of my classmates wrote, I said that though the character of Jane had a lot in common with fairytale heroines, the book did not suffer from the comparison, no matter what else ailed it. You see, it’s only recently in world history that fairy stories have been relegated to the nurseries and dismissed as children’s stories. It wasn’t always like that.

In the days before television and electric light and the radio, kings and princes had professional storytellers to keep them entertained when the sun set outside. The good ones could become famous, wealthy, and influential. The tradition persisted even after kings and kingdoms disappeared in favor of delegates and republics. The truth is, fairy stories are entertaining tales with grains of truth in them, not because they’re morality tales, but because they’re written/ invented by humans, even the most fantastic creatures in them have human traits.

The adult fairy tale seems to be undergoing a resurgence of sorts. The latest entry is Pan’s Labyrinth which I saw today because I had the day off and what better to do on a rainy day than go to the cinema? As reviewers and critics had warned, it isn’t for children though the protagonist is a child. I’m not here to review the movie, leave that to the professionals. I’m only here to note that people are buying it, a movie with fairies and fauns and doors that open into blank walls and prophecies and quests. I overheard a woman say to a friend after the show, “It was a bit heavy.” Heavy, not cute or whatever else fairytales have been reduced to over the years. I’m not saying anything needs to be tragic to be taken seriously, but there are new opportunities for storytellers sprouting up all the time. Here’s another one.

As I said in my high school essay, there’s no reason for something to be pushed aside because it seems “unrealistic”. Everything has a grain of truth.

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