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Bettelheim is convinced of the universality of fairy tales; He argues that they are readable by both children and adults and are essential to the development of the former, as children are rarely taught by their parents to a sufficient extent about their irrepressible, instinctual desires. Fairy tales recognize these undeniable forces of the psyche and thus make clear to children that it is acceptable to be driven immorally at times and that there are ways to monitor these urges without unhealthy repression. These lessons are made clear through small symbolic details which prove to be the most significant elements of the story.Darnton views fairy tales as primary sources of a certain historical time period that tell much of the context and culture of the setting in which they were recorded. He addresses the factor that most were likely to have first been passed through oral tradition, and were in that way—ironically—more consistent than those that are now literature. Once recorded, something may be altered, whereas oral storytelling was more regular out of habit. Often, historians discredit artifacts if they are known to not be representative of the whole truth; Darnton instead considers them as cultural tidbits that allow us a peek into the story’s contemporary context. He appreciates the diversity of varying versions of tales, and gaining insight on its contemporaries by virtue of simple, not necessarily intentional characteristics such as its structure. Consequently, Darnton disagrees with Bettelheim’s idea that fairy tales are primarily universal moral lessons and that their detailed symbolism is most important. That being said, I do not find the two perspectives on fairy tales uncomplimentary. Although these scholars differ in what they consider the essential purpose of the story itself, they do not imply that the other’s understanding is not plausible. They simply appreciate them for different reasons, taking note of different qualities for their own reasons.
Bettleheim seems to be focused on fairy tales as they relate to the growth of the child. He believes that fairy tales are able to convey particularly important messages about the real world to children that other stories are unable to. Other stories are unable to because they are said to show the "safe" side of life, while fairy tales confront real life predicaments through symbolism that kids and adults are able to pick up on and understand. Darnton focuses on the origin of fairy tales. He emphasizes how certain fairy tales were retold as they passed from one location to the next, but they retained certain central aspects that appeared to be universal from one story to the next. He juxtaposes examples of French, German, Italian and American fairy tales to illustrate the ideas that remain constant and how certain aspects change in respect to the change in culture or time. By analyzing the graphic and sexual content, he believes you can understand the culture and origin of the particularly story. Even though you might be able to understand the origin, you are still unable to figure out what the real tale is and are thusly left with trying to find a truth from the collective tales. I find part of Darnton's article more convincing because Bettleheim talks about the universal understanding and incorporating of fairy tales into peoples life as if it were reality while I had personally never thought too deeply about fairy tales to the point of learning from them and incorporating their morals in my life as a child. I believe that the age range of a child should be defined first because I agree that there exist certain morals and enlightenment that can be derived from fairy tales, but it depends on the age and an adult to convey the morals and symbolism that the child observed. Especially when adults tend to miss alot of symbolism in stories today.
Bettelheim sees fairytales as a means of connecting to one’s unconscious and cultivating imagination and exploring the boundaries of the unconscious so that it can be dealt with in the conscious. He is concerned that as children develop their egos they need ways to translate their urges that society sees a taboo and unspeakable so children negotiate these urges and fantasies by bringing them to the conscious in a safe way with fairytales. Although I agree with Bettelheim in the beginning of his essay and liked when he said, “to find deeper meaning, one must become able to transcend the narrow confines of a self-centered existence and believe that one will make a significant contribution to life…our positive feelings give us the strength to develop our rationality”. And I agree with him that the most important influences on a child are his or her parents. However, I do not necessarily believe that fairytales help exorcise our unconscious fantasies into our conscious minds. I think he is mixing the realm of fantasy with our unconscious as though the two are one and the same, which I don’t agree with. Even though fairytales do operate in a universal, magical, and almost timeless world outside our reality, that does not mean they operate in our unconscious or that we read them with our unconscious minds any more than we read or interpret everything else in our lives. I think Darnton makes a more compelling argument when he discusses that you cannot take symbols from these stories and interpret them as with common meanings for all people. Bettelheim assumes all people have the same problems, fantasies, and ways of dealing with them while I think Darnton is more realistic and acknowledges that these stories have multiple variations, come from varying cultural environments which they are adapted to, and are read by different people different ways. I think Bettelheim has some good ideas but he takes them too far. I agree with Darnton and find his assertion that we can learn something about the peasant illiterate classes from these tales interesting. But I don’t’ think these tales are as specifically illustrative of the peasant class as he argues. Yes, these fairytales began with stories from the peasant class but the stories we have today have been contaminated by simple fact that they are no longer oral tales of the peasant class but instead they are literature written by and for the elite in society. So the tales we read today are not necessarily genuinely reflective of the peasant classes. I don’t think you have to take sides on this debate, both authors have their strengths and weaknesses although I find Darnton’s argument more reasonable.
Bettleheim believed that fairy tales helped children to find meaning in life. He thought that though parents are very important in this process, fairy tales and other cultural stories had a greater effect. He was sure that fairy tales could teach children about what can happen when they give in to the urges of their id and don’t head their superego. Children could use the examples from the stories to learn how to deal with their problems.Darnton on the other hand, believed the value of fairy tales was in the historical perspective the stories provide readers with. Most literature from that time was all from the perspective of the upper class. Many fairy tales however are told from the point of view of peasants. For this reason Darnton felt fairy tales were important. He did see one problem in the fact that the tales were not actually written by peasants.I think both make a good point to a certain extent but personally I identify more with Darnton’s perspective. When I was being read fairy tales by my parents I never really thought about the lessons the tales were supposed to be teaching. My parents had already provided me with a clear sense of right and wrong and so when I heard these stories I only used them for their entertainment value.
Bettelheim believed "children's literature" taught in school was formed to educate necessary skills, but nothing could be taken from it. He argues these readings lack a deeper meaning at which is meaningful at a critical point in life. He believes fairy tales entertain, strike imagination, develop intellect, and suggest solutions to problems which cannot be learned other wise. According to Darnton, fairy tales are symbolic and reflects specific cultures. The vulgar literary events within various fairy tales exemplifies openness to certain subjects in societies. He disagrees with Buttelheim's "happy endings". He acknowledges that Bettelheim omits the peasant fairy tales which skips over displays violence, sex, and cannibalism. I find Darnton's beliefs more credible. Bettelheim argues fairy tales supply moral lessons that are universal. I find this belief false. Society is made of different social classes and within these groups, persons face different circumstances. I do believe, a portion of Darnton's "symbolism" and Bettelheim's "finding a deeper meaning" does compare to a certain extent.