Grimm's Fairy Tales

Characteristics of Fairy Tales

Fairy tales were handed down orally until the 18th century when the Romantics began to collect them together and write them down. The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, are the best-known recorders of European tales. In the classic fairy tale laws of nature are suspended, there is little description of space or time, reality and the supernatural exist close together, language is magical, and a theme or motif exists.

The first component of the standard fairy tale, a suspended law of nature, refers to the magical world in which the story takes place. All of the stories of the Brothers Grimm incorporate some version of this feature. In “Hansel and Gretel,” the children are captured by a witch who lives in a house made of sweets and keeps Hansel locked in a cage so that she can fatten him up and eat him. In “Snow White”, Snow White is living with seven dwarfs and other mystical creatures, and is given a poison apple by her evil stepmother who has taken a potion to change her appearance. In “The Water of Life”, two older sons seek magical water to save their father, but on the way they are rude to a dwarf and get trapped in a ravine. There is also a dwarf in “The Seven Ravens” who tells the daughter that her brothers will return.

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