I decided to publish my short essays on the readings from the Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World course syllabus. The course started on the 1st of June and finished on the 14th of August. The essays were supposed to be around 270-320 words a piece. Today, I publish the essay that I wrote after reading Grimm‘s Children and Household Tales.
* These are my views and interpretations only
As I read the many tales of Grimm’s Children’s and Household Tales I was struck in particular by two things: the amount of repetition and the flimsy motivations of the often one-dimensional characters.
I will elucidate on my first point – the amount of repetition – first. In the stories themselves there’s a lot of repetition of certain situations or dialogue. For example, in the Rabbit’s Bride the to and fro between the mother and the daughter and the daughter and the Rabbit is mostly the same. The mother tells the daughter to shoo away the rabbit, the daughter goes to shoo the rabbit, the rabbit wants her to come with him and she refuses. This happens at least three times. Most of the other stories also have this kind of repetition.
Then there is the repetition of themes in the stories: many of the stories revolve around the same thing. They even have the same set up or ending sometimes. For instance, Three Little Men in the Wood has almost the exact same ending as The Goose Girl. To me, that much repetition drags down the stories and makes it harder to enjoy them, because I felt I had read them all before.
My second point about the flimsy motivations of the one-dimensional characters – who more often than not, aren’t even referred to by their own names, if they even have any – is what generally turns me off in books. If I don’t get a sense of the character, if the character stays flat and his or her motives aren’t clear, I can’t empathise with them. Take The Fisherman’s Wife: the man keeps on obeying his wife, even though there is no reason for him to do it. And if there was, it wasn’t explained. If I can’t understand why they make certain choices, then I can’t really care about the consequences or the characters themselves.
And that’s a shame.