Definition of Fairy Tale
A fairy tale is a children’s story in a magical setting about imaginary characters that include fairies, dwarfs, witches, angels, trolls, and talking animals. It is also known as a folklore genre written in the form of short stories. Writers skillfully blend elements of magic and reality in these stories to incite a feeling of surprise and wonder among the audiences. They are always different from traditional stories. Although these types of stories are written mostly from a child’s perspective, they unfold universal ideas. In this sense, it makes seriousness a bit light in intensity. Also, the use of powerful imagery grabs readers’ attention and connects them with the story.
Etymologically, a phrase of two words ‘fairy and tale’ means it is a type of story which intends to excite the readers’ interest by presenting impossibilities as possibilities.
Examples from Literature
The Elves and the Shoemaker by Brothers Grimm
Written by Brothers Grimm, “The Elves and the Shoemaker” is a good example of a fairy tale. It was first published in 1806. The story is about two magical elves and a poor shoemaker who lived in a small house with his wife. The shoemaker hardly manages to make both ends meet. One day, he went to his shop and was surprised to see a pair of readymade shoes on the table. He sells that pair and earns a handsome amount. Then every morning, he finds pairs of readymade shoes in his shop. The family soon becomes rich. One day, the shoemaker and his wife hide in the shop to find out who was making shoes for them. Finally, they see the elves and decide to make clothes for them to return their kindness. The shoemaker’s wife made hats, coats, trousers, and shirts for them. The elves are very happy to find new clothes for them. They put them on, dance, and leave the place. The characters of elves and their act of kindness make it an excellent example of a fairy tale.
Cinderella by Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm’s ‘Cinderella’ is another example of a good fairy tale. It was first published in 1697. Cinderella was living a prosperous life until her mother died, and her father remarried a cruel lady. Her stepmother makes her servant in her own house and forces her to do chores. One day, a special invitation arrived from the king’s castle, and every eligible maiden is invited to a fancy dress ball. Cinderella also desires to attend the ball, but her stepmother and stepsisters stop her. At that moment, a fairy appears and grants Cinderella’s wish to attend the ball. Dressed in a beautiful gown, she arrives at the ball and becomes the center of attraction. The prince dances with her, but at the stroke of midnight, Cinderella rushes back and in haste, leaving her magical glass slippers. The king searches the entire kingdom and finally reached Cinderella. She marries the prince, and they lived happily ever after. The characters and setting of the story make it a good fairy tale which highlights the role of fate and chance. Also, the arrival of the fairy makes readers believe that miracles can happen anywhere or anytime in life.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Brothers Grim
Another classic fairy tale, ‘Snow White’ by Brothers Grim. Snow White becomes the victim of the hatred of her stepmother. She was famous as “the fairest women in the town.” However, Snow White was becoming prettier, and the queen could not tolerate. She orders a huntsman to kill Snow White and bring her heart as proof of her death. Instead, he kills a wild animal and presents its heart as proof. To verify, the queen asks the magical talking mirror, who informs her that Snow White is alive. The queen decided to kill her and disguises herself as an old lady. She gives her a poisonous apple, and after that, Snow White goes into the death-like state. When the dwarfs find her dead, they decided to put her in a glass coffin in the woods so that everyone can see her sparkling beauty. On a hunting mission, a prince happened to pass by her glass coffin and see her. He lifts the curse with true loves kiss and asks her to marry him to which she agreed. The evil queen dies when she sees her marrying the prince. The happy ending, the appearance of the dwarfs, and the magical atmosphere make it one of the best fairy tales.
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
“Beauty and the Beast” is another beautiful fairy tale written by a French novelist, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and was later rewritten by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. The story is about a merchant and his three daughters. It happens that the merchant goes on a journey and ask his daughters what he should bring for them. The elder two daughters ask for jewelry, but the youngest daughter, Belle, wishes to have a rose. On his way back home, he picks a rose from a beautiful garden, but a Beast appears and stops him. The Beast informs the merchant about death as the penalty for stealing the flower. However, Belle finds the merchant and agrees to be imprisoned to set her father free. Belle later falls in love with the Beast and breaks his curse. He transforms into a handsome prince, and they live happily ever after. The setting, characters, and situation make this story a classic example of a fairy tale.
Functions of Fairy Tale
A fairy tale functions as a tool for the writers to express their thoughts freely through animal and other imaginary characters. Its major purpose is to entertain, pass on culture, thoughts, and convey different moral ideas to the young generation. It provides the audience with an opportunity to become light-hearted and enjoy something different. Also, fairy tales stories help children learn moral values, as they are a convenient device to boost a child’s imagination and cultural literacy. Writers skillfully feature certain situations to make their audiences feel happy and light-hearted over happy endings of such stories.