Fairy tales give us both.
Cinderella: The downtrodden girl with the evil step-mother and step-sisters gets the prince…and the sisters get their eyes pecked out. Hope. Horror.
Little Red Ridinghood: Wolf distracts girl so he can eat her grandmother and then her. Horror. Hope? In some versions, the Huntsman cuts the wolf open. In some versions the girl outwits the wolf. But in either case good destroys evil.
Snow White: The horror here is more subtle. In the very early versions of the tale, the evil queen is actually her mother. Can you imagine that horror? The hope? That there are people out there who will fight for you.
Hansel and Gretel: Like the Snow White story, the horror lies in the betrayal of parents. They’re supposed to care for their children, but what do they do? Leave them in the woods on their own where the siblings meet another horror in the witch. Hope? That two children can outwit evil.
Beauty and the Beast: We’re somewhat immune to the horror here, but the very fact that the beast is a beast satisfies the horror category. The hope? That even a beast can be loved into a prince.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
When I first started thinking on this topic, I kept questioning it. Are fairy tales hopeful? Can they be hopeful with so much horror? Many of the Disney adaptations remove the horror of the original tales, sanitizing them for children and for poplar consumption.
Do you ever have one of those weeks where something clicked into place and you suddenly understood?
That happened for me in many ways this week, and one way was my opinion on fairy tales & hope.
I think they are hopeful because of the horror.
Sometimes our world is a horrible place. It’s unfair, and it treats you cruelly, and it beats you down. Family members stomp on your beliefs or shun you. Friends betray you. Nothing is as it seems. The fairy tale world is like that too, and often worse. But for all that, even through all that, the characters have hope. Heroes, sometimes in the form of children, outwit cunning evil. The shepherd becomes a prince. Woodland creatures reward kindness with treasure and social elevation.
The heroes and heroines persevere. They don’t quit because things get hard, even when they become hopeless.
Good conquers evil — most of the time. Eventually.
Bad behavior is punished.
Most of all, while sometimes unexpected evil flattens us to the ground, there’s unexpected good out there, too.
We’ve got to be the heroes of our stories and dare to hope, dare to push through. Dare to be the unexpected good in someone else’s life.
So much love to you all. <3