The art of literature is traced back to ancient humanity when man begun to socialize. Even before the beginning of formal socialization, the human society was organized in such a way that made it easy for the different categories of persons to share and exchange views and ideas with their peers and mates. The advent of socialized man and society further expanded the ties and associations between various persons, making the society more unified and solid. Literature began with drawings on caves and rocks to reflect the different happenings in the society. The art of literature is a reflection of culture and mannerisms of the societies. Tales began with drawings and inscriptions, which are today referred to as fine art. The art of drawing is traced to the advent of humanity in the ancient days of civilization (Martin and Barbara 22). Man used art to communicate various aspects of the society including culture, events, weather, climate, emotions and the nature of the surrounding environments.
Today, fine art is used to portray the artistic nature of humankind. Artwork goes beyond the mere communication of the feelings, emotions and such related factors to include the artistry and representativeness of reality on a piece of paper, wood, or precious stone. The developments in artistic drawings further enhanced the artistic nature of human to invent the technique of explaining the various pieces of arts that could not be expressed in drawings. This is the advent of fairy and folk tales. It is due to the origin and the contexts in which folk and fairy tales are used that some people have argued that the two are inseparable from the society.
Regarding these facts, some people argue that fairy tales are impossible to separate from their cultural context. That is, they think that the tales cannot be read without considering the social, political, and ethical markers of the time and place in which they are written. Others argue that fairy tales are universal and that no matter what time, place, or language in which they are read, they have identifiable messages that translate across time, space, and culture. This paper uses the book, folk and fairy tales edited by Martin Harlett and Barbara Karasek. Using three of the tales we have read this semester, I have discussed my position on this argument.
The folk and fairy tales are the direct mirages of the societies from which they are borrowed. Different societies have different folk tales as well as fairy tales. The term folk tales originate from the work ‘folk’ which means people from the same family line/tree. These people tend to share several things and influence one another’s identification and development of time and space. The current society is a twined one and associates at different levels in various ways. Peer associate with one another at different levels. Besides, inter-age interaction is today, more formalized due to the integration of the society through modernity and technological advancements. Different fairy tales are designed for different age-groups. However, these tales cut across the age groups to be read by different persons outside the intended age brackets. Culturally, however, fairy tales and folk tales inform us of what goes on in some given societies and the manner in which these societies react towards such happenings. Like folk tales, fairy tales are also society-specific.
To illustrate these facts, the tale of Cinderella has been used in various circumstances to illustrate the various happenings in the society. Looking at fairy and folk tales from the perspective of their thematic foci, we can argue that their constructions are specific to certain societies and not to others. The story of Cinderella highlights the connectivity between fate and luck in the context of the society from which the story is drawn. Some people do not believe in luck and believe that one has to work for any good that they meet in the course of their lives on earth. That everything gained by every person is acquired through hard work and sweating. The story of Cinderella is entirely based on the fate that makes everything happen in her favor. For instance, the birds come to help her pick up the lentils from the ashes that are not a normal occurrence;
Then there came to the kitchen window two white doves, and after 3 them some turtle-doves, and at last a crowd of all the birds under heaven, chirping and fluttering, and they alighted among the ashes; and the doves nodded with their heads, and began to pick, peck, pick, peck, and then all the others began to pick, peck, pick, peck, and put all the good grains into the dish. Before an hour was over all was done, and they flew away (3-4)
In the end, Cinderella is married to the prince despite her low standard and poor position through fate. Everything that happens in the life of Cinderella does so to her favor which not normal. The story of Cinderella, therefore, is specific to the societies that believe in fate and not those that do not believe in the importance of fate in determining the course of people’s lives.
On the other hand, we can argue that fairy and folk tales are general and not society specific. They are writings that are universally agreeable to every culture and mannerisms. The proponents of this argument believe that such tales can be made to reflect any society since they are based on imaginations rather than reality as some people have noted. In some circumstances, the fairy and folk tales are created out of people’s imaginations and creativity as a form of artwork. Art can either be imaginable or created out of reality. Reality art is society specific while imagination art is accepted as representing every range of society without being specific to a given culture. For instance, the Red Ridding Hood is an imagined creation that can be used to reflect the beliefs in all societies. This is because, every society has a tradition and which determines the various undertakings in them. The belief on the Red Ridding Hood’s grandma being swallowed by a hungry wolf and remains alive within the wolf’s stomach is unimaginable.
Luckily the woodcutter heard the noise and just as the wolf was about to eat up the delicious Red Riding Hood he burst in the door and cut off the wolf’s head. Then the woodcutter cut the wolf open and out stepped granny (2).
However, the writer draws the readers attention to the fact that such outrageous illustrations can be used just as a thrilling aspect of literature to arrest the attention of the readers to continue reading rather than trying to reflect on a given culture, society or religion is what makes fairy and folk tales outright imagination that does not culture specific and not factual. The imaginative creation out of the piece is what makes it none specific to a given culture thus its universality.
The sleeping beauty, on the other hand, makes it hard to interpret the relationship between fairy tales and the folk tales in terms of their relationships with the society and the art of literature based on creativity. On one hand, the story appears prickly creative and with no strings attached against or for any other culture or society. On the other hand, the storyline can be attributed to some specific cultures. For instance, the manner in which the sleeping beauty lay in the castle for a hundred years leaves the readers torn between societal belief and creativity.
It all happened as the fairies had predicted. When the princess was sixteen years old, she saw an old woman spinning and took the spindle from her to try this strange new work. Instantly she pricked her hand and fell into a deep sleep, as did everyone else in the palace. There she lay in a bower of roses, year after year, and the hedge around the palace garden grew so tall and thick that at last you could not have told that there was a castle at all (2)
The fact that all fairy tales are informed by certain cultures and mannerisms in some given communities, however, makes them be determined by certain cultural props and cannot be read in isolation with cultures. The society plays a very key role in determining the way in which creative pieces of artworks are developed. In other words, the society creates the picture in the minds of literary artists and which is then transferred onto the paper. Both fairy and folk tales are, therefore. It is thus, impossible to separate fairy tales from their cultural contexts.
The origin and development of literature spans several years back during the period of the civilization of the human society. The art of telling stories is traced to the cessation of painting and drawing as the sole media of communicating various phenomena among the different peoples in the societies. Fairy and folk tales originate from the societies’ cultures and mannerisms which shape the creativity and display. The fact that fairy tales and folk tales are determined by the societies’ belief thinking and beliefs makes them hard to read and understand in isolation from the societies that they mirror. These creative artworks are therefore connected to specific cultures and cannot be read in isolation of one another.
Martin, Hallet and Barbara, Karasek. Folk and Fairy Tales. Broadview Press, 2011. Print.