Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Fairytale Rewritten

For the past few nights, Noah has been requesting that I read the story of 'Hansel and Gretel' to him before bedtime.  At first, my reluctance to comply with my son's request stemmed from my paranoia that the story might be too scary for him.  After all, getting pushed into a hot oven (or boiling pot in some versions) is quite a violent and scary image, don't you agree?  
http://blog.jilliantamaki.com/2008/10/hansel-and-gretel/
But after getting re-acquainted with this famous story, I realized that there was something else far more disturbing than just an old lady ('witch') being burnt alive.  I'm actually offended by the fact that all the blame is directed towards the 'evil stepmother' who came up with the plan to leave the children in the forest because the family was running out of food and other resources.  What about the father though?  At least from my perspective, it was obvious that he was complicit in the whole scheme to get rid of his children.  He most certainly did not strongly object to the idea, nor was it even implied in the story (at least in the version we have) that he went to great lengths to search for the children.  At the end of the story, when Hansel and Gretel finally found their way home, it says that the father was just so happy that he will not be alone again (since the stepmother had died, and by no means was there any explanation of her death...go figure!).


Sure, Hansel and Gretel are just kids and they really don't know any better.  They must be...what?...6, 8 or 10 years old?  I'm betting it won't be too long before they find out that they have a spineless wood-cutter for a father, who never bothered to defend them, reason for them, and was just too happy to have them back so they could serve him, the morally inept patriarch, now that he has no wife by his side.  If I were the father though, I'd be very afraid of these children considering the trauma they had just gone through.  They've pushed an old woman into a hot oven before.  What makes you think they won't be capable of pushing an old man this time around?  I don't know about you, but I think H & G need some therapy...

12 comments:

  1. I'd forgotten about this story. I had to Google it and re-read it to re-acquaint myself with the story. I totally agree with your blog entry. What a spineless creature for a father!

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  2. oo nga...buti na lang solar system ang bedtime story na gusto ni Third =)

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  3. Yes! So true! I've been bothered by that too! Talk about a double standard!

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  4. What does Noah think? As a child I was a fairy tale fanatic and only in adulthood, as I reread my beloved tales to my sons did the dark themes get me thinking. BTW, retellings of these stories in Children's books are already very sanitized. For a true psycho-analytical fest, try reading the compiled classic Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

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  5. 3.15.11 15:30 via FB

    when i had children, i realized all fairy tales were violent to the point of being gruesome... little red riding hood's lola being eaten by a wolf, snow white in a glass casket, gingerbread man getting on the fox's nose, pied piper leading all the kids into the mountain... what kind of stories did we grow up with?!?

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  6. 3.15.11 16:40 via FB

    Now that you've mentioned it, I don't remember ever reading Hansel and Gretel to any of my children. Snow White will probably be the only classic fairy tale they would know (sad?). With the amount of awesome children's stories out there nowadays, it just didn't occur to me to dwell on the "classics."

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  7. Even the nursery rhymes/songs are quite violent - jack and Jill; humpty dumpty, rock a bye baby... they involve falling...

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  8. Hahaha! Good one, Joy! I've always thought that H&G's father is the spineless kind!

    Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I have awarded you with the ONE LOVELY BLOG AWARD! Yey!

    Here's the link:

    http://mymommyconfessions.blogspot.com/2011/03/another-lovely-blog-award.html

    Yes, I dare say it...your blog is LOVELY (even if you say it is dark). Just accept the ward okay!? Hehehe! It's just a little something to let you know that you and your blog are appreciated. :D

    More power to you!

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  9. Joy, I bet none of us, when asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, replied, "A full-time stepmother!" And yet that's what I stepped in and couldn't shake off my shoe. Only recently, as we approach our silver wedding anniversary, has my fairytale ending arrived. With the birth of my oldest stepdaughter's son two years ago, I have become irrevocably "real."

    Can you imagine how much I cursed the Brothers Grimm under my breath all these years for their stereotyping of stepmothers? Eventually I might get up the gumption to blog about the experience if I figure out how to do it without offending my daughters.

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  10. @Scrollwork: Very very interesting point!...the 'stepmother role'. But you should figure out a non-offensive presentation of your personal experiences cos now I'm really eager to read them! :-)

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  11. Joy, I bet none of us, when asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, replied, "A full-time stepmother!" And yet that's what I stepped in and couldn't shake off my shoe. Only recently, as we approach our silver wedding anniversary, has my fairytale ending arrived. With the birth of my oldest stepdaughter's son two years ago, I have become irrevocably "real."

    Can you imagine how much I cursed the Brothers Grimm under my breath all these years for their stereotyping of stepmothers? Eventually I might get up the gumption to blog about the experience if I figure out how to do it without offending my daughters.

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  12. Even the nursery rhymes/songs are quite violent - jack and Jill; humpty dumpty, rock a bye baby... they involve falling...

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Let me know your thoughts!