warning: this will ruin fairy tales for you. you can turn back now. i wouldn't blame you in the slightest.
as an education major with my main focus being literature, i'm required to take introduction to literary analysis. this class changes every year. it keeps the same course number, but every year, it's a different type of literature.
the one that i landed myself into was "revising fairy tales."
i had this super happy idea that we'd be writing fairy tales and reading them. that sounded absolutely exciting to me. but you know enough about my life by now that when i get a super terrific happy thought in my brain, what actually happens is never super terrific and happy.
my professor, dr. v (von wallmenich, say that five times fast) was just about the coolest professor i'd ever encountered. the first day, she said, "if you ever get lost while we're reading, you just raise your hand and shout "DR. V, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THIS TEXT?"" i thought i wouldn't do that.
oh, but i did. it felt pretty damn awesome, too.
she also said that to get through english, you need to be able to bullshit. "pull wisdom out of your ass and you will be golden. it's an art that you're going to college to perfect."
the first book we plowed through was transformations by anne sexton. it was her take on grimm's traditional fairy tales in poem form. now, if you don't know anything about anne sexton, you should know this: she's more perverted than that fifteen year old who never leaves you alone. she was sexually abused by her father. she was bipolar and writing poetry kept her stable. when poetry stopped being stabilizing, she took her own life.
grimm's fairy tales just got grimmer.
her poems were graphic through her fantastic use of metaphor. i appreciate her poetry for everything that it is; raw metaphor. i enjoyed reading her take on the grimm fairy tales. i loved how each fairy tale had a subtle message of her childhood. each poem opened with a narration in first person in which she described herself as a witch. she was not the princess. and she didn't need to be. she just needed to write.
from there we moved to the wolf trilogy by angela carter. these were creepy. they were very dark. the symbolism was driven by metaphoric rape and menstration. that's all red riding hood is. she's an innocent menstrating girl who gets devoured by male desire. we read at least five different versions of little red riding hood, and in every single one, she was an innocent but independent woman (angela carter's wise child concept) who was eventually consumed and raped by a male's desire. no happy endings for her. i won't even get into wolf alice. you can read that yourself and make of it what you want.
then we got into lolita.
dr. v kept calling lolita "humbert's wayward fairy tale" and it took me a while to understand exactly what she meant. humbert's account of of his life lusting after his stepdaughter is exactly what dr. v said it was; a fairy tale. humbert is in his own little world of insane infatuation and he will do whatever it takes to be with lolita. his entire life has become nothing but a pedophilic fantasy that he puts onto paper. there are also hundreds of allusions to fairy tales throughout the novel. as humbert plunges through his fairy tale of a life, he references them so often you can't keep count of them. humbert's fairy tale does not have a good ending either, but you learn that in the beginning of the book. you work your way to how he got to where he got to through his lust for a little girl named dolores haze.
as if i wasn't terrified enough with werewolves and sexually assaulted disney princesses, we watched pan's labyrinth. it won a fair number of academy awards if i remember this correctly, and the movie is an absolute masterpiece. it's a foreign film, so we watched it in its original language (spanish) with english subtitles. we looked for the contrast between the real world of the film and the fairy tale world of the film. and then we came across the child eater.
the child eater is arguably the scariest movie monster ever created.
i will not post a picture of it on here. after i saw that movie, i could not sleep for five hours. i had to sleep with the light on. i would not sleep without my roommate in my room. i cried myself to sleep i was so afraid. there was a little voice in my head that said, "you are a grown ass man" (woman?) but that didn't help whatsoever. the child eater scared the living daylights out of me.
pan's labyrinth does not have a happy ending.
not a single fairy tale we went through had a happy ending. even the things that we read that didn't seem to be fairy tales didn't have happy endings.
growing up in the disney renaissance, i believed that things turned out okay. but disney spent a lot of time changing plots and creating happy endings. they pulled a lot of strings.
after taking this class, i feel like a lot of my childhood was ruined. i'm really hoping i didn't ruin yours by writing this.
if you can take away anything from this blog, let it be this:
1. read lolita. it's one of the greatest books ever written.
2. fairy tales suck. but they all have intense moral lessons.
3. watch pan's labyrinth with a buddy. (for more than just the reason of the child eater.)
4. take a class on fairy tales and expand your world.
have a happy ending. :)