Anonymous Disneyfied Fairy Tales Everybody knows how Cinderella found her glass slipper after dancing at the ball. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty were awoken by true loves kiss and lived happily ever after. The Little Mermaid longed to live on shore to be with that one special person. The thing that people don’t know is that the tales are wrong. Grimm Fairy tales are the original fairy tales dating back to early Germany. Disney took the fairy tales and put their own spin on them to be more appealing to children.
The origin of the fairytales cast a large shadow over the new “Disneyfied” tales with major transformations, differences, and a syndrome that sparked from the change as well as up rises among feminists in the community. The Grimm Brothers were German professors who grew famous for publishing classic fairy tales and through their work in linguistics. Linguistics relates to how the sound in words shift over time through translations, specifically relating to how translations of tales were changed because of the switching between languages (Grimm Fairy Tales).
Before being professors and taking an interest in linguistics, it was a tragedy that originally brought them to discovering the fairytales. Without the tragedy, who knows if the fairy tales would be around today? The Grimm Brothers grew interested in the fairy tales after their father died unexpectedly and the family grew very poor (Brothers Grimm). The Brothers later met a wise man that brought them to a library filled with old books containing a couple tales (Brothers Grimm). The flame continued as they read the tales and grew more of an interest.
They started to listen to people’s favorite stories in order to hear vocal patterns and while doing this; it helped them to record the tales that would be later published (Grimm’s Fairy Tales). By understanding the linguistics behind story telling they were able to understand how the pieces of the tale fit together as best as possible. The Grimm Brothers were determined to preserve the true Germanic folktales as they were, however, once popularity spread amongst them, pieces in the story started changing (Brothers Grimm).
Originally, the fairy tales were meant to be told at campfires and in taverns as entertainment to adults, not primarily to children like it is nowadays (Layt). Over the years, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm began a collection of the fairytales in the 1800’s that were like the previous European generations- gruesome and cruel (Brothers Grimm). By spending time in the library for a while, the brothers interest flourished and they officially gathered all the fairy tales in one big book that they named their own (Brothers Grimm).
They began their own collection of books with stories and folktales, telling them mostly to women (Brothers Grimm). Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm kept a record of the tales and published them officially in 1812 called “Children’s and Household Tales”, with a follow up edition in 1814 (Hunt). Over the various new editions to the collections, the Brothers due to word pronunciation, altered the books as well as changing possible implications of sex, pregnancy and parents changed minor details (The Brothers Grimm).
In the Grimm brothers first book, it contained 86 folktales and was popular and very successful (“Grimm…”). In the next volume, “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”, 70 more stories were added (“Grimm…”). After 6 editions, the book contained over 200 stories (“Grimm…”). The Brothers hard work and dedication throughout the course of making the books led to it being one of the most well known works of German literature in history (“Grimm…”). The time period in which the books were written reflects Germany’s state of being in many small Germanic communities.
Fairy Tales takes places in Kingdoms, much like the small communities seen in Germany at the time (The Brothers Grimm). This also is an indication of alterations between tales due to the fact there was no unification and as the tale went through the grapevine, making it was easy for things to get changed or mixed up. The fairy tales show life lessons about strangers, trust, and watching what you wish for and carry’s on to be the foundation for popular fairy tales today (The Brothers Grimm).
Throughout the stories, abusive parents, distressed damsels, and chivalry are the building blocks for most classic Disney movies (The Brothers Grimm). It wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that original fairy tales became more focused towards children rather than adults (origin). As the focus shifted and things got changed from history, Disney producers feared that by only showing interpretations of Grimm Fairy Tales, it can cause people to lose sight of what the actual fairy tales were (Brothers Grimm).
Although things were altered over time, nothing can take away from the stories core, spreading them around the world in more than 160 languages (Brothers Grimm). As time went on, other editors changed things as well. They became softer and sweeter, spreading morality, unlike their original descendants from the Germanic folktales (Brothers Grimm). The Grimm Tales show angry, wild beasts in dark forests. Disney shows a softer side by making all animals nice and only changing the mood to horror if completely necessary for the shortest amount of time possible (Disneyfication).
American producers now feel that fairy tales must end with a happy ending, ruining the message that was intended to be sent by original fairy tales (Teramis). Modern day authors take the stories and add new humor to take away from the “scariness” of the tale (Berner). New endings provide unique twists that were altered to create a different version seen in Disney fairytales (Berner). Everybody knows the story of the beautiful girl, Cinderella and how she was saved from her horrible life from a handsome prince and carried off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
However, that’s the way that Disney portrays but Grimm’s fairy tales has a little bit of a different view towards it. In the original Cinderella, it is her mother’s words on her bedside before she dies that pushed Cinderella to be the best she can and not to let the abuse her stepmother and stepsisters put on her dragging her down (Holler). In the movie by Disney, he real mother isn’t even mentioned which leaves a hole in the story that may be confusing at first.
After years of slaving away for her stepmother and stepsisters, the invitation for the Prince’s ball comes in and they all prepare to go. A slight alteration between the movie and the fairy tales was that it wasn’t just a one-day ball that happened, but a 3-day festival (Taylor). The Prince would look for Cinderella and would only dance with her, turning down any other offers given to him (Taylor). On the third night, she hurried home because her stepsisters and stepmother was coming home, not because the magic in her dress was wearing off (Taylor).
Referring to the magic seen in the movie, in the fairytale itself there is actually no magic present at all or even fairy godmother. Although she exists in the movie and gives Cinderella her beautiful dress and pumpkin coach, she does not exist (Taylor). In the original tale, birds bring a gold dress with gold shoes lined with satin for her to wear (Taylor). Not only is the Godmother made up, but the portrayal of the slippers and blue dress was misleading in the movie as well (Taylor). In another version of the story, the translation between languages may have mixed up the slipper even more.
The French words “verre” and “vair” sound extremely close meaning that it is uncertain if she had a fur slipper, a glass slipper, or like seen in another translation, a golden slipper (Layt). While at the ball, it shows her leaving behind her slipper by accident, however, in the Grimm version, the prince convinces her to leave her slipper behind so that he may go find her after the ball (Aschenputtel). In the movie, when the Prince goes to find Cinderella to try on the slipper, he encounters her stepsisters who try to cram their feet into the slippers to prove that it was them he was dancing with.
In Grimm’s fairytales, the stepsisters try cutting off their toes and heels from orders of their stepmother so the Prince may take them home (Layt). After the sisters force their feet to fit into the slipper, the prince believed them until he noticed the blood coming from the shoe (Taylor). For a prince who seemed so in love with Cinderella, it shows Grimm’s dark side considering he couldn’t tell the difference between the women and solely relied on the fact that the shoe fit. The prince didn’t realize it was Cinderella right away like in the movie.
Due to the stepmothers and stepsisters attempt to trick the prince, the birds who brought her dress to her pecked the eyes out of them for their wickedness showing the harsh Germanic tales that provided exquisite detail (Layt). After they get their eyes pecked out, they live as blind beggars for the rest of their lives with a broken bond between Cinderella and her fortunes (Differences…). Cinderella lives happily ever after, however, the stepmother and stepsisters don’t live fortunately like what is shown in the movie with no money, no house, and no toes.
Snow White is a loved classic from Disney that shows a beautiful girl who stumbles upon a quaint little cottage in the woods and lives with dwarves until her prince comes to save her. In the original Snow White, it featured her and her sister Red Rose who encountered angry dwarves (Taylor). It is uncertain why the fairytale split it into just Snow White and the dwarves without mentioning her sister (Taylor). The classic poison apple that is seen in Disney’s Snow White was not the original plan of attack from the evil Queen.
At first it was silk that the Queen disguised as an old hag brought to the house. She wrapped her up in it so tight that she couldn’t breathe and appeared dead when he dwarves returned home (Taylor). Fortunately, the dwarves saved Snow White when they returned home and cut the laces of the silk, allowing her to breathe again and restore her back to life (Taylor). Not only was there the attempted murder with the silk, but she also tried to poison Snow White with a comb that would make her senseless when contacted with her (Taylor).
On the Queen’s third attempt, she finally killed Snow White with a slice of an apple that she poisoned (Taylor). The dwarves were unable to awaken her, however, a glass coffin was made so she could be displayed to show her beauty, even when she was dead (Taylor). The attempts at murder that the Queen did was a different change from the movie that only showed the one successful attempt. In the Disney classic, it was not true loves kiss that awakened her, but when the dwarves were carrying her coffin and hit a bump, it dislodged the piece of apple from her throat and allowed her to awaken again (Taylor).
Out of the Queens jealousy, she tried to kill Snow White. Snow White’s birth mother died after giving birth and her father remarried and although never mentioned in any Disney movie, the Queen is her jealous stepmother much like Cinderella (Taylor). Despite that small misconception, the biggest and bloodiest change in Snow White comes from the Queen who not only wants her stepdaughter dead, but also wants her heart so she can eat it (Layt). Depending on the translation, the Queen may of asked for other internal organs such as the liver, lungs, intestines, etc. Layt). Unlike the fatal ending in Disney’s Snow White, the Queen must suffer for her wickedness by dancing around on hot iron shoes until she drops dead at Snow Whites wedding party (Layt). Unfortunately, it wasn’t a quick death off a cliff like seen in the movie. Snow White was one of the earliest and most changed tales from the Grimm’s collection; yet, it is still loved for its originality today. With scarce amounts of detail, the classic story of Sleeping Beauty is one of the most exaggerated tales due to lack of original content (Disneyfication).
They needed enough material in the movie by Disney to cover two hours worth of film, changing and elongating the tale greatly (Disneyfication). Disney’s film features a beautiful, young girl named Aurora, Rose for short. In the Grimm’s tales, she is known as Briar-Rose because she lived in it for 100 years of sleep was engulfed in thorns and bushes making it impossible for someone to save her (Dornroschen). Unfortunately, with the new productions and marketing, the evil dragon outside the castle wrapped in the thorns (Dornroschen).
However, thorns were a major and difficult barrier to get through, but there wasn’t any magical dragon that breathed fire (Dornroschen). The famous spindle is a symbolic feature of the Disney film, but in the original fairy tale, she does not prick her finger on a spindle but does get a piece of flax stuck under her finger nail that causes her to fall asleep, she is put into a deep sleep for 100 years (Layt). While sleeping, a Prince climbs through the barriers and up to her sleeping body but instead of awakening her sleeping with a kiss, he rapes her and causes her to give birth to twins while sleeping (Layt).
It is not the Prince’s kiss that will cause her to awaken, but her child sucking on her finger that dislodges the piece of flax under her finger nail, allowing her to wake up early from the 100 years. She wakes up to a very confusing situation with a husband she did not know and kids she didn’t remember having (Layt). The spunky redheaded mermaid under the sea is a well- known classic from Disney. Disney portrays the tale with a mermaid who longs to be a human and sees a prince that she wants to meet pushing her to go on shore even more.
She gives up her voice to an evil sea witch to be with him and ends up marrying him, living happily ever after. In the original fairy tale, it is not because her voice was taken away that she couldn’t talk, but because of excessive amounts of pain she felt every time she walked due to her weak leg muscles (Differences…). With a young audience from Disney, the Little Mermaid is not lucky enough to have the man she wants and is offered a knife from her sister to kill him as revenge (Differences…). Unfortunately, he was not in love with her and she must kill him to revert her back to her “mermaid” self again (Differences…).
In Disney’s version, they transformed the ending dramatically. Instead of a sea witch tricking him, she is unable to kill the prince with the knife provided by her sister, so instead she plunges herself into the ocean because she cannot bare to see him with anyone else (Differences…). This causes her body to turn into sea foam and she basically commits suicide ending the tale(Differences…). Through the recreations of tales, little girls assume that they will live as those in Disney movies (Grimm vs. Disney).
Some may grow out of it; however, others may develop Fairy Tale Syndrome (Grimm vs. Disney). Girls who suffer from Fairy Tale Syndrome tend to struggle with relationships, trying to make the wrong guy fit into their lives (Fairytale Syndrome). They are unable to realize you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. Without realizing it, almost everyone suffers from Fairytale Syndrome meaning that they need that prince to come and sweep them off their feet (Dolnick). It is a subconscious occurrence that people cant help.
People think they are in love when they fall under fairytale syndrome. Love is a chemical reaction and when people fall in love, their brains release certain kinds of chemicals that puts people on a “high” making it harder to be resistant in a break up (Dolnick). Love is so emphasized in modern day society that some people may not even realize that they are actually addicted to it (Dolnick). Girls pretend to be something their not causing emotional stress in fear that no one will like them for who they are and feel like they must change (Gender Roles).
Girls develop the feeling of being rushed into relationships from the influence of The Little Mermaid who immediately changes her whole life to be with him (Snow White Syndrome). This causes problems in girl’s lives because they didn’t wait and followed the moves (Snow White Syndrome). It is believed that girls agonize over their appearance due to the glamorizing alterations Disney has made, setting high standards for every girl if she wants someone to come for her (Snow White Syndrome). The portrayal of princesse’s lives make young kids believe everything will come easy to them (Grimm vs. Disney).
The view of what is normal to children as they read and watch fairytales act as early foundation for socialization processes of children that may cause them to believe everything comes easy (Kuykendal). Adopted or stepchildren may develop a specific syndrome called “Cinderella Syndrome” (Syndrome Diagnoses). This leads them to make outrageous stories of abuse and isolation such as what Cinderella suffered from (Syndrome Diagnoses). The portrayal of Cinderella in Disney’s film reflects that women are dependent and terrified unless they are accompanied by a Prince, causing emotional issues in girls (Cinderella Syndrome).
Although women may appear okay on the surface, on the inside they are dependent on men due to the demand the Prince receives (Cinderella Syndrome). It doesn’t matter what age; it appears that most women depend on men. While suffering form fairytale syndrome, you may also fall into a Soul Mate Fantasy (Fairytale syndrome). People who have this believe you will meet one person and you will know they are the one and will fall in love right away (Fairytale Syndrome). Although Soul Mate Fantasy may sound harmless, it is often the path towards self-destruction.
People tend to set standards too high and cant find anyone or they will fall too fast for someone causing them to get hurt leaving them with emotional issues (Fairytale Syndrome). Master Servant Fantasy may occur as well. This means that people think a rich, handsome man will scoop them up out of their ordinary lives and bring them up to the riches they have (Fairytale Syndrome). What girls don’t realize is that you don’t have to drag yourself down to the bottom with the hopes that maybe someone will come along and pick you up (Fairytale Syndrome).
It is believed the Disneyfied fairytales can cause a lot of mental insecurities. If Grimm Fairytales remained as originals, girls would not feel this false sense of hope they are receiving from movies. Critics claim that by reading the fairytales, it creates gender stereotypes in kid’s minds showing how they are supposed to act; most of the time women being inferior to men (Kuykendal). A repetitive exposure to gender roles was concerning researchers with fear that a child may grow up with low self esteem (Kuykendal).
Critics began to question a child development after they noticed the gender patterns in fairytales around the 1960’s (Kuykendal). After being stripped of its violence in the 17th century, it as greatly criticized in the 18th century and on (Sexes). A set of critics claims Disney productions are sexist (Sexes). New goals formed amongst feminist writers stating that they would try to depict a character that is empowered regardless of the gender they have (Kuykendal). Authors must now revision classic works to reinvent powerful women, male protagonists, and feminist narratives in their writing (Kuykendal).
Many new feminist authors are altering and are rewriting original fairytales to fit in feminist views rather than fractured or corrupt fairytales (Kuykendal). As new times progress, feminist writers are striving to reject the weak, submissiveness of women and show them that they can be just as strong as men (Kuykendal). In Disney films, a woman always needs a man to save her. A woman is never strong enough to stop them and needs a man to step in for them (Origin). Feminist believe there are two types of women shown in Disney fairytales.
The good women are always passive and victimized (Kuykendal). On the contrary, bad women must always be killed or punished. Feminists argue that the powerful figures are always evil and submissive women are rewarded with a happy ending (Kuykendal). Feminist argue that powerful, smart women in fairytales always have a false interpretation because in Disney’s productions they are always hags, witches, or deranged stepmothers (Sexes). Only powerful, immortal women in fairytale are powerful and strong, showing the separation between mortal and immortal (Kuykendal).
Mortal women are beautiful yet weak and immortal figures can be beautiful and powerful (Kuykendal). All evil villains in Disney movies act as targets to get killed because they abused the power they were given and it backfired on them very badly (Kuykendal). The only exception to mortal women being powerful is if they are ugly or evil (Kuykendal). In some cases, women with power are ugly and evil showing how only good, submissive women can succeed (Kuykendal). Classic Disney movies also shape men’s views as looking at them as objects of pleasure and servants (Sexism). Women are looked at as images of sex.
When men meet princesses, they automatically fall in love with them. Men have no interest in anything else except for the fact that they are beautiful (Chaos). Cinderella is saved from horrible living conditions and gets married to a prince because she is beautiful and no other reason (Disney Princesses). Snow White is believed to have been saved by her beauty and sexuality. She was attempted to be killed because of her beauty that imposed a threat to another woman (Disney Princesses). Sleeping beauty was cursed at birth because of a political position amongst her parents.
She is killed by another woman out of spite and is woken by a kiss because of the attraction of her sexuality (Disney Princesses). Lastly, the Little Mermaid drastically changes her appearance so she can be more attractive to men. Her voice is taken in exchange but it is her sexuality that makes him fall in love with her making her voice useless (Disney Princesses). Stories portray women as weak, submissive, dependable, and self sacrificing while men remain as powerful figures. Women are always beautiful, however they lack power to control their lives unlike men who are handsome and unstoppable (Kuykendal).
Not only are gender stereotypes imposed through women in fairytales but in men as well setting an individual set of standards for them as well (Sexism). In several studies, it was concluded that there was many patterns showing male dominance and female subservience (Kuykendal). Also, in Disney films, it shows how men are defined through primarily physical fitness and appearance (Sexism). Disney movies also show men that have the classic body type for men that is extremely fit and in shape. Only those who are handsome and in shape will get the girl (Sexism).
In many films, the outcast in society is seen as opposites to the manly figures being sensitive, short, and not physically fit as the bodies of the heroes (Sexism). All women in fairytales must be moral and are expected to look beyond appearances to what’s inside. Men are allowed to be shallow, however, all women must rise above this (Chaos). In most films, the climax scenes always focus on a man fighting for power to either win a woman’s heart or for pride in themselves (Sexism). In spite of children’s concerns, feminist caution parents to be careful of what they are exposing their children to.
Fairy tales can be immensely influential on children’s minds and by relaying the wrong message it can be harmful (Kuykendal). Fairytales have developed and changed over time, however the building blocks from the Grimm’s Fairy Tales will always be the classics. Disney has changed and modified things but the originals still remain. The new productions show different views and could be potentially harmful to the youth. The Grimm’s Fairy tales will always be a famous work of classic literature that contains only the real stories of fairytales.
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