The Sleeping Beauty, which was a poignant reminder of how much I love fairy tales. Why would a 50-something, no-nonsense mom/teacher/missionary who hates sappy books and gushy movies, have a yen for this kind of thing? Aren´t fairy tales unrealistic and unhealthy?
Both G. K Chesterton and C. S. Lewis believed in the power of story to transmit eternal truths. Some would argue that fairy tales are hogwash. (In my early years as a homeschooler I read many diatribes against them.) But I tend to agree with Victorian author Juliana Ewing who wrote:
Fairy tales have positive uses in education, which no cramming of facts, and no merely domestic fiction can serve. Like Proverbs and Parables, they deal with first principles under the simplest forms. They convey knowledge of the world, shrewd lessons of virtue and vice, of common sense and sense of humor, of the seemly and the absurd, of pleasure and pain, success and failure. . . . They treat not the corner of a nursery or a playground, but the world at large, of forces visible and invisible, of Life, Death, and Immortality.
If you read my post on On The Shoulders of Hobbits, you will remember the quote on how politically correct stories have taken the place of fairy tales. Now instead of virtues such as courage, honesty, and self-sacrifice, we are starving our children´s moral imaginations by teaching them that the highest virtues are tolerance, multiculturalism and environmentalism. Ugh.
Obviously, not all fairy tales are created equal and discerning parents must choose carefully. Hans Christian Anderson is often too dark for my tastes (even though I know the deaths in his stories mirror the self-sacrificing love of Christ). Some versions of Rapunzel have her getting pregnant out of wedlock; other stories deal with problems such as injustice (Cinderella), abandonment (Hansel and Gretel), cruelty, greed and imprisonment (Rapunzel). But it is in the context of these stories that children learn that evil can be overcome. As Chesterton so famously said, Children know that "dragons" (evil) exist. Fairy stories tell them that dragons can be killed. (paraphrase from Tremendous Trifles)
My next post will go into more detail of the lush prose and spiritual imagery of Charles Evan´s version of Sleeping Beauty.