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Who’s Afraid of the Brothers Grimm?

Who’s Afraid of the Brothers Grimm?. John Anderson Courtney Davis. Thesis. The Grimm Brothers fairytales contribute to the creation of a false consciousness and reinforce an authoritarian socialization process. 

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Who’s Afraid of the Brothers Grimm?

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  1. Who’s Afraid of the Brothers Grimm? John Anderson Courtney Davis

  2. Thesis • The Grimm Brothers fairytales contribute to the creation of a false consciousness and reinforce an authoritarian socialization process.  • These fairytales have been regarded by critics as an indoctrination tool used to mold the minds of children into fixed roles and the functions within bourgeois society, which the critics believed decreased their free development.  • The Grimm’s Fairytales served a socialization process by placing emphasis on values such as passivity, industry and self-sacrifice for girls, while placing emphasis on the values of activity, competition, and accumulation of wealth for boys. Emphasizing these values, Zipes claims, represses and constrains children, rather than set them free to make their own choices.  • As a result, the fairy tales went through a process of reutilization, functioning against this conformation process. The desired product of this reutilization was for the fairytales to produce a more diverse and just society.

  3. Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Original Edition) Kinder und HausMarchen “Children’s and Household Tales”

  4. Central Claims • The Brothers Grimm gathered their information primarily from petit bourgeois or educated middle class people, who had already introduced bourgeois notions into their versions. • The source of their folktales gives insight into the target values and ideals they were trying to use as conformation tools. • The Brothers Grimm changed the fairy tales in order to include the desired values and ideals, altering the imperative style of the tales, expanding them, making substantial changes in characters and meaning. • They excluded many other well-known tales from their collection, and their selection process reflected the bias of their philosophical and political point of view.  • They wanted the rich cultural tradition of the common people to be used and accepted by the rising middle classes. They sought to link the beliefs and behavior of characters in the folktales to the cultivation of bourgeois norms and to clean up the tales and make them more respectable for bourgeois children. 

  5. Evidence & Support • “during the past thirty-five years there has been a growing radical trend to overthrow the Grimms’ benevolent rule in fairy-tale land by writers who believe that the Grimms’ stories contribute to the creation of a false consciousness and reinforce an authoritarian socialization process.” (Zipes, p. 59) • Pages 63 – 66 show the process of change within the Grimms’ tales. They become more elaborate and moralizing with each edition published. For example, the revised text of “Snow White” places emphasis on her job of housekeeping for the dwarves to justify this as the role of women in bourgeois society. • “The story enjoins the reader to accept the norms and values of a patriarchal master– slave relationship and private property relations…. [W]e are talking about socialization through a story that upholds as positive goals patriarchal domination and the accumulation of wealth and power for private benefit.” (p.72)

  6. Evidence & Support (cont.) • The “reutilized fairy tales” shift the focus from money and power, and turns to themes of social relationships, feminism, and breaking of illusions. They often involve social satires or ambiguous endings. Examples: • Friedrich Karl Waechter, Tischlein deck dich un Knüppelausdem Sack (Table Be Covered and Stick out of the Sack) • Andreas and Angela Hopf, Der FeuerdracheMinimax (The Fire Dragon Minimax) • Janoscherzählt Grimm’s Märchen (Janosch Tells Grimm’s Fairy Tales) • Doris Lerche & O.F. Gmelin, MärchenfürtapfereMädchen (Fairy Tales for Girls with Spunk)

  7. Evaluation • Zipes uses historical references and data to support his claims and identifies the time periods in which the attack on the conservatism of the “classical” fairytales was mounted, giving the reader a time frame. • This article has a method of mapping and comparing the revisions made by the Grimms to three of their stories to make them better fit the values and norms of upper/ middle class societies. This pattern of comparing changes in fairy tales and society is exhibited in some of the other publications we have read. • Zipes also used philological research by Rolleke and others from the 1970s and 1980s, analysis made by other scholars, and examples of the way fairytales have been changed to strengthen his arguments. • When Zipes discusses the reutilization and transformation of fairytales, he uses several different editions from different time periods to exemplify the claims he is trying to make.

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