For hundreds of years, fables and fairy tales have been created and passed through generations. There is much more to these kinds of storytelling than meets the eye. There are many differences between the two; some differences are very obvious and distinct, while others are unclear. It is possible for fables and fairy tales to be confused with one another. One thing they have in common is that fables and fairytales may play a large role in a child’s upbringing. It is that reason fables are far better for teaching young children than fairy tales are. A short story that demonstrates a lesson and describes a critical moral is called a fable.
Fables are intended for children and young adults because they often introduce animals as the main characters. The purpose of this is to make the story more appealing to the children. The main reason as to why fables are a better teaching tool than fairytales is the moral lesson hidden in the story. A story in which a moral is taught is, The Ass in the Lion’s Skin, in which a donkey is teased because of his horrendous sound and unpleasant outside appearance. The donkey comes across a beautiful and fierce lion’s skin, in which he develops a plan to pretend to be a lion.
This plan is devised to trick his foes and make them believe he is something he is not. In the beginning, his plan works. When the children see him, they run scared, fearing the lion might attack them. The donkey believes that being able roar ferociously will surly frighten the children as they have frightened him. So he once again, he approaches them wanting to pay them back for their wrong doings. He opens his mouth but instead of a ferocious roar, out comes a loud bray. The sound startles the children, and they realize it is just the donkey. The boys no longer fret because they see it is only a disguise, and they are not in danger.
The boys however somehow came to know, that, if the ass had happened to be a lion in reality, he had determined not to hurt a bone in their skin; and they resolved not to teaze him anymore” (Godwin 399). The menacing boys in this story were taught that there was no need to tease the poor donkey, and it was not nice. Although, they had caused harm to the donkey by throwing stones, the donkey chose not to harm them, when in his position he could have. Authors use animals to play characters when telling fables. The animals usually take on human characteristics while maintaining some animal traits.
This makes the story more appealing to children, since symbols that they can easily relate to are being used. This makes the fable humorous and entertaining without damaging message the author is trying to send. Fairy tales catch the eye of a child with its imaginary characters, such as fairies, beasts, and humans with extraordinary powers, but it usually lacks a moral message. The characters can usually receive some kind of assistance in the story through magical beings like wizards or fairy godmothers. This makes for an entertaining story, but does not teach anything.
A child is not able to call upon a fairy godmother as Cinderella did. This idea could be misleading for someone who is young and impressionable. It provides an unrealistic solution to a situation that may have to be faced in a lifetime. If in a realistic situation, like Cinderella’s, there is no magic spell to fix their circumstance. It is a task they must triumph through on their own. Although, the message a fable sends is more favorable than that of a fairy tales that does not mean a child will not retain ideas from it. Fairy tales usually include an evil being, usually a step mother or evil witch who victimizes a young woman.
Almost always, the young woman is defenseless on her own. At this time, either magic or some impractical character is introduced to help the damsel in distress. An example would be in Snow White when she sings and all of the forest animals come to her aid to help her. Magic is also used several times in that fairy tale, both to aid and harm the fragile girl. Undoubtedly, at the end of the fairy tale the young girl is rescued by a muscular prince who overthrows the evil doers and marries the damsel in distress, promising happily ever after. Most such tales have filtered through centuries of patriarchal culture and show little respect for women, except as young and beautiful “princesses. ” Only to be decorative is the customary female function in these old stories. Girls without beauty are automatically also without virtue, happiness, luck, or love” (Walker ix). Fables speak of moral flaws like envy, pride, and wrath in hopes of showing the reader a more acceptable approach to handling everyday struggles. Fairy tales are believed to be the opposite and quite anti-feministic. The woman in these tales lust over men, and are in constant search of a prince.
The reason behind finding a prince is not always for love. Usually, many characters are after the riches and lifestyle that comes with the prince. The leading woman in the stories will show a desire for true love, but it is made clear that that desire will not be fulfilled unless her outer beauty is made prominent. This teaches young girls a horrible lesson. That if true love is what they are after, they must have stereotyped into what society defines as beautiful. The woman are usually shunned and teased by step family members. This may begin an unhealthy association to blended families.
Women are not the only ones being stereotyped in fairy tales, men are subject to this as well. This puts pressure on men, making women think that appropriate men must be good looking and muscular, who come from a wealthy back ground. These ideas are clearly impractical for today’s society, even though at one time this may have held some sort of importance. Even if fairy tales are told for entertainment purposes, the beliefs will still be engraved into the minds of the young. This may make some stories more suitable for adults who understand that their purpose is more for entertainment.
Whether they are told for entertaining or for learning, the audience should be suitable for the type of story or lesson being explained. When they were first written, the audience was probably not as important, but as humans evolve so should the stories. Many are classics and should be kept the same, and in that case age of the reader to be taken into consideration. Fables and fairy tales are a huge role in culture and society. “Today, as in times past, the most important and also the most difficult task in raising a child is helping him to find meaning in life.
Many growth experiences are needed to achieve this. The child, as he develops, must learn step by step to understand himself better; with this he becomes more able to understand others, and eventually can relate to them in ways which are mutually satisfying and meaningful” (Bettelheim 3). Whether the impact they have is positive or negative, it is important to recognize the role they play. Since these stories have played such a valuable role in all of society’s life and upbringing, these stories will continue to be passed down to generations as they have been for hundreds of years.