A recent article in Live Science Magazine delved into fairy tales for glimpses of truth. Having recently seen the film The Brothers Grimm (which stars Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger) on DVD, I was expecting to read about the real life stories that the fairy tales grew from (not that the film was exactly a documentary). But that's more history than science, more anthropology than physics, which is the sphere in which Live Science concentrated their efforts. They hypothesized about the most fantastical aspects of three well-known fairy tales to conclude whether or not Rapunzel's hair really could have held the weight of her prince, if the Little Mermaid's voice could have been stolen, and if a magic carpet might really be able to fly.
Being a fan of author Joseph Campbell, I tend to look at fairy tales as metaphors for deeper truths about life itself. So while Rapunzel, were she a real girl locked in a tower, may have been able to sustain the weight of her prince on her long blonde locks, I believe there are more important messages in the story. As parents read the story to their young daughters, they may be reminded about the upcoming struggle between protecting their innocence and letting them grow up, and the young listener may learn about not giving up on love.
The Disney version of The Little Mermaid modernizes the message of the rather gruesome original (which involves a sea witch cutting out our heroine's tongue)which serves as a cautionary tale about putting personal wishes above those of one's family. The way Disney tells it, The Little Mermaid, champions following one's heart and trusting in love, as well as not giving up one's voice or changing who we are. The magic of fairy tales and myths is in their ability to speak a different message to each of us, and even offer guidance at different points in our lives.
Many of us have experienced the freedom of a flying carpet without actually defying gravity. The wonder of being able to go where we want, when we want, without limit or permission is a dream we can all understand, whether we experience it on a bicycle or a balloon. Of course, the tale was told before the modern airplane was in existence, so perhaps that myth has already become a reality in a way.
Suspension of disbelief is essential in these stories, but perhaps knowing that some of it is possible helps us with our resolve to not give up on our own fantasies. Because we can connect and relate to the characters and their situations at some level, we may be able to use that as a bridge to enter the realm of the magical and discover what is truly possible, expanding the boundaries of the real world to experience some of what seems to be only imaginary.
To read the results of Live Science's investigations go to: http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/080211-fairytales-science.html
To read an annotated version of the original Little Mermaid go to: www.surlalunefairytales.com/littlemermaid
Originally published at: http://www.dailymantra.com/2008/02/the_truth_in_fairy_tales.html#more
Reprinted with kind permission from The Daily Mantra.com. For more enlightening stories go to www.dailymantra.com
Malayna Dawn is an author and freelance writer with about 1000 uplifting, thought-provoking articles and one spiritual adventure fiction novel that will inspire you to experience your own life's adventure in a new way.
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Drawing on her lifelong experience as a student of metaphysics in Unity, her degree in communication emphasizing multicultural beliefs and comparative religion, and her experience in the entertainment industry, she offers her perspective on the beliefs and symbols of all cultures—including pop culture, which is often dismissed as merely entertainment rather than the powerful connection to our deeper selves that it can be.
Using your imagination, creativity and personal inspiration, you can learn to entertain new possibilities and discover a different way of looking at the world, infusing it with personal meaning to make your life your own personal work of art.
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