Fairy tales at their heart deal with love. So what is it?
By default and necessity, we are born self-centric. Pain, the great teacher of life, would seem to teach us to be this way. We feel our own pain, not another’s. Our fingers burn when we touch a hot pan, and it is only by touching the hot pan that we can feel any sympathy for someone else who has done the same. Now we know what it feels like. Our bellies growl when we are hungry, not when another feels hunger. Because we know life through our five senses, and those senses are our own, we are largely occupied with the pain and hunger and tiredness and happiness that we ourselves feel.
Love changes this.
It pulls us out of our selves into others, whether that’s one person or a whole nation, or a whole world. Now when someone else feels pain, we may not physically feel it, but we feel it nonetheless. In our hearts, our emotions. We may even physically feel something akin to it we are deeply enough affected.
Fairy tales, though not fairy tales alone, tell us that someone can love so deeply that they would sacrifice their life for another.
There is a fairy tale all women want to believe – that they are worth a love that is so great that love would redeem someone. It’s complex. It’s deep. It’s difficult to fathom. It’s at the heart of a lot of good and bad behavior alike.
They want to believe it so badly that I think there must be a reason for it. Though I’m still trying to figure that out.
Or how about this fairy tale theme – someone who has a lot of bad to overcome must have a very strong and beautiful goodness invested in them to overcome it. The darker your past, the stronger the light that must shine to pull you from it. So we love the bad characters walking towards the light.
Love, redemption, the battle between good and evil, light, darkness, all of these things the greatest tales taught us. Why were the stories told – and why do they go so deeply into our hearts?
“Tolkien is saying…… the reason for Fantasy’s power to delight and inspire, is that it is a ‘far-off gleam or echo’ of Christian story – and therefore that this power comes ultimately from God – and not from the artist. It is divinely inspired – and not a product of craft or rtistry.” (taken from http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.com/2010/11/epilogue-to-on-fairy-stories.html)
“The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories.” – J.R.R. Tolkien