The Telling Nature of the Fairy Tale
Fairy tales have been part of the human experience from the beginning. Whether they have been written or oral they have been passed down for centuries. One of the most interesting features of fairy tales is how they can carry history along with them. Moving from culture to culture, decade to decade, or even century to century. Carrying with them bits and pieces of the previous cultures/times histories and values. Leaving with the new owners of the tales hints of a time past, or hints to their own cultures beginnings.
One such way that a fairy tale can shed light onto the inner workings of a culture, from a former time, is through how human relationships are dealt with in the course of the story. This can become very revealing to how relationships are valued in the culture that adapted the story into their lives, making it their own.
During the process of adapting a tale into a culture the tale is changed in minor ways in order to mirror the values and realities of the culture and society at hand. These tales become a very important tool used in the process of enculturation. The children that these stories are told to learn important values and ideals from the characters and situations found in the stories. So fairy tales not only hold a historical record of the morals and values of a given culture and society but also help in the process creating that culture at the same time. Doing double duty so to speak.
One very famous fairy tale this can be seen in is that of Cinderella. Found in the very first few sentences of the story you can find how the dissolution of marriage is viewed by the culture and society of the time it was released. We’ll talk more about this later. For now let’s look at a brief history of divorce in western civilization.
Divorce as we know it didn’t always exist. Prior to 1700 there was no means of dissolution of marriage. That means that if you were married there was no way to end a marriage to allow for remarriage (Wolfram). Most marriages were under the control of the church. When talking about the Catholic church that meant no divorce, period. Annulments could be obtained if enough evidence was brought to light to suggest adultery. This all started to change after the Reformation (Wolfram)
Lord Roos divorce in 1670 was the first “true” divorce. It took eight years to completely go into effect. This was common for the time. Between 1700 and 1857 there were only around 325 divorces in England. This is mainly due to the fact that divorce was too costly and time consuming for the commoner to afford. Divorce was thought to be “a province of the aristocracy” (Wolfram).
In 1857 this all started to change. With the passing of the Matrimonial Causes Act divorce became under the control of the courts. Other than making divorce a judicial procedure the act also added to the list of possible acceptable reasons for a divorce to be enacted. Consequently the divorce rate increased to...