What is it about fairy tales that draws us in, adults and kids alike? After all, as far as story telling goes, they’re pretty basic. No hooks, no questions, no mystery, no frills, little description or scene setting AND we know how they end before we’ve even started. Good overcomes evil, love conquers all, the underdog wins the day and the bad guys get their comeuppance. Karma sorted all round. And who doesn’t want that fairytale ending…? But it is a matter of perspective. The hero and heroine may live happily ever after – but that doesn’t take away the trauma and pain they’ve suffered. And the same can’t be said for the wicked stepmother/sisters/witch. Their fate is tolerable at best and downright grim(m) (pun fully intended!) at worst – some of the original tales are really quite horrific.
The happy ending is tempered by sacrifice, loss and brutal justice. But still, we like to believe that a happy ending is possible. Unlikely as it is (hopefully) that any of us are going to find ourselves locked in a tower, or cursed to hideousness by a sorceress, or eaten by a wolf etc., there is that nugget of truth in all fairy tales, something that we recognise and connect with. Warnings, morality codes, friendly advice, they’re all there. They are universal themes, and speak to all of us. The characters are archetypal and variable, the setting could be anywhere and everywhere, but the underlying truth is the same. I challenge you to read any work of fiction and not find some fairy tale in it somewhere. It must be that desire for simplicity and fairness that keeps us coming back for more, a longing for a world where things really are black and white rather than infinite shades of grey. Or maybe it’s the hope that somehow, no matter what the odds, good will always come out on top. After all, we as humans like to believe that no matter how bad things are, they will somehow get better.