Sunday, February 26, 2012

Comparison of Cupid and Psyche by Lucius Apuleius and The Tiger’s Bride by Angela Carter

Cupid and Psyche

The Tiger's Bride

“Cupid and Psyche” and “The Tiger’s Bride” are stories  written at very different times and while there are some differences the similarities of both stories outweigh the differences. Both stories follow the same outline of all the other Beauty and the Beast themed stories we read. In all of the stories a person, usually the woman or girl, meets the beast, falls in love with the beast, and spends the rest of her life with him.
            These two stories are similar because both Psyche and Bride willingly sacrifice themselves to the unknown beast. While Psyche seems more willing to accept her fate to be delivered to the beast for the good of her family and only because she does not have any other marriage prospects, Bride seems angered at her fate and especially her father who has lost her to the beast. Though their reasons for meeting the beast are different, it does not change the fact that both accept their fate to continue their lives with the beast and away from their families. Also both are obedient to their parents.
            Both stories also deal with the women’s fear of the unknown and mystery of the beast though in slightly different ways. Psyche is warned by her sisters that her husband is supposedly a beast which leads to her taking a closer look at him at night despite his warning that she should not do so. In the other story, Bride remembers her nurse maid telling her to be cautious of beasts because they will “gobble you up”. Overall Bride seems less frightened and more active and head strong than Psyche who lets others help her with her tasks rather than challenging the beast to strip first. 
            On another note, both stories have an element of magic. “Cupid and Psyche” has the interchange between the divine and mortal world as well as Psyche’s travel to the mountain and her life there. In the story of “The Tiger’s Bride” there is the fact that the beast is a tiger-man, the look-a-like doll of Bride, and her transformation by licking of the tiger.  
            All these common themes as well as the fact that both Psyche and Bride are praised as being very beautiful women, which for Psyche was the cause of her bad fortune, make it possible for them to be viewed together and characterized as a Beauty and the Beast type of story.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Red Riding Hood in cartoons

This cartoon by Kes is a different from other red riding hood cartoons because it has the grandmother as the central figure. Here she is complaining that her granddaughter rarely visits anymore which is interesting since the grandmother almost never speaks in any of the stories we read except for the one by the brothers Grimm. Also this is one of the view glimpses we get of her before she gets eaten by the wolf.
But this cartoon is also similar to the other cartoons I saw as it depicts the grandma sitting in bed and an image of little red riding hood. It seems like this image of wolf/grandma in a bed and little red in the room is the typical depiction of the fairy tale – the one image that makes the story unique.
I thought it was interesting that grandmother says that little red would not be able to tell her apart form a wolf since little red has not visited in so long because this is exactly the issue I had with the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Children of almost any age are pretty good at telling apart humans from animals so why would little red not realize that the figure in the bed is not her grandmother….

When looking for cartoons I also had another thought. Why is the story knows as Little Red RIDING Hood when there is no mentioning of riding horses in any of the stories..? Riding has a more sexual meaning especially if one takes into account all the other sexual implications…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fairy Tales and Psychology: Freud and Jung

Psychodynamic analysis began in the 1900s and even today is still used by some psychologists. As it is, psychodynamic theory has influenced the field of psychology a great deal, especially Freud and Jung. Their theories can even be applied to the analysis of fairy tales as both believe that how we identify with fairy tales can tell us about our thoughts and dreams.
Freud believes that humans suppress their fears, sexual desires, and inappropriate behaviors in the unconscious and purposed that we have an ego, superego, and id which rule all of our actions. Thus as Bruno Bettelheim describes using Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the story of Hansel and Gretel deals with children’s suppressed anxieties of abandonment and their fears about independence.
Jung, on the other hand, believes that we have a collective unconscious where memories and experiences are stored that are shared by the whole human race. This translates to idea of love, hunger, and parents. His theory helps to explain the universal nature and the recurring themes such as abandonment by parents and the search for food in fairy tales.
Psychological theories are useful for therapy because how a person identifies with a particular fairy tales can sometimes reveal their own fears, anxieties, and struggles. What parts they like can even reveal their dreams and hopes. Even if that is not the case, talking about a fairy tale in a therapy session can lead to open discussion and thus bring therapist and patient closer.
Dr. Mazeroff’s lecture was very educational and interesting as it gave a good overview of both theories as well as their similarities and differences. The part about the different archetypes identified a lot of commonalities as well and helped explain the potential meanings behind them.The section on the hero's journey was very interesting as well as I had never thought about almost any story includes most of these elements in the same order. While I am still doubtful about psychodynamic theories in general due to their unscientific nature, I can see the appeal in them as well as their usefulness. Thank you Dr. Mazeroff for this new perspective.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My working definition of what makes a Fairy Tale

From our class readings and discussions we established that a fairy tale or Maerchen is distinct from myths, legends and folk tale in a few key aspects. First, fairy tales are stylistic in nature and often begin and end in similar ways. For example in all the fairy tales that I have heard, there is some type of hero who overcomes a negative event and ends up receiving a good fortune or “lives happily ever after”.  Another important part for a story to be classified as a fairy tale is an element of magic such as talking animals, fairies and of course curses that change a prince into a scary animal. In many cases, fairy tales are also written, fictional works though some are based on oral folk tales that the author has combined into a story. This leads to another important aspect of fairy tales which is that fairy tales have a universal quality to them. Every culture finds resonance in fairy tales – otherwise they would not be as popular all over the world as they are now or have been in the past. Lastly, fairy tales in their pure form let the reader interpret the tale by themselves without giving a moral or suggestions. Thus how a fairy tale is interpreted is all based on the reader's experiences and views which leads to it's ageless character.