Fairytales. In their most literal form they are imagined to be tales about fairies but in truth are so much more. Watching the Royal Wedding, a nation was united in experiencing a modern day fairy tale come true, where a handsome prince marries a young girl of a lesser standing and they live happily ever after. I know I, for one, like to believe that such a fairy tale of perfect, unconditional and reciprocated love and happiness is possible.
Yet no fairytale is complete without the magical battle of good versus evil; where ultimately good triumphs but not before much suffering has taken place. In our most popular fairy tales of today – Cinderella, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty to name but a few – we find innocent, beautiful young creatures exploited by wicked step-mothers or relations, calling upon their friends for help before they can find true happiness.
Fairytales are not always just that – in fact, for the most part fairy tales do not contain fairies. Instead they stem as far back as c 1300 BC in Egpyt to The Tale of Two Brothers when the first recorded folklore began – and continues to be – grounded in historical truth as it is passed down throughout the ages. Over the years, such folk tales span centuries, generations and cultures, with fairy tales today often being a way to teach young children the difference between right and wrong, the risk of danger and the beauty of love – colourful, magical characters set in idyllic surroundings looking for the happy ever after. Rather than fairies, the magic is provided by talking animals, wizardry, and the forces of nature doing battle with those of human nature. Just as in Denny Bradbury’s The Water Sprite & the Waterfall, where the water sprite meets an orphaned little girl, Terpsichoria, so too do many fairy tales talk of woodland creatures joining forces to help a damsel in distress. Just as in the folk lore of thousands of years gone past, Denny’s fairytales talk of how “they all lived very happily together and no one was frightened or lonely again” – Denny Bradbury The Dryad and the Seahorse.
Often fairytales will highlight the complexities that may exist within families; the older men are found to be weak and unable to cope with the required emotions needed to bring joy and stability to their family unit – the fathers in Hansel & Gretel, Cinderella, & Snow White to name but a few. In contrast, the women are shown to be strong, powerful creatures – for the older women it often manifests itself in the form of evil, whilst the younger generation are the heroines who battle such hostility to ultimately be rewarded with true happiness. Denny Bradbury draws upon this theme in her book The Reunion, where five women demonstrate their resilience and strength to the various challenging life experiences they encounter and in her new book Borvo where she harks back to the fairy tale time of Kings and Queens.
If you would like to know more, please listen to Denny discussing what motivates her to write her fairytales at Fairytales and in Part II I will discuss the origins of fairytales and how, once upon a time, it all began…
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