Updated: Feb 17
In his book, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion, Jack Zipes states that “Fairy tales test the correlation between real social practices and imaginative possibilities that can be realized but are thwarted in our everyday interactions.” In this quote, social practices may be defined as those activities which are shared by the community and which form their identity. These practices, are therefore, critical to its proper functioning because they decide how various life events should be handled. However, as any society evolves these practices contrast with available ethical and idealistic options, and therefore, become subject to debate. Thus, Zipes argues there frequently is a divide between realistic options and current social practices, and that it is Fairytales which provide a safe avenue for which this debate can proceed.
For example, in Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland, Alice awakes in Wonderland - a place where things are often topsy-turvy - and things do not work in the usual logical manner. Thus, Carroll creates an atmosphere where logical questions, based on real social practices, are no longer valid and therefore are safe to be interrogated. In the same way, in the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood”, Perrault’s use of geographical positioning – that of being in a forest – creates an atmosphere where social practices no longer impinges on the imaginary possibilities. The setting of the forest is particularly popular in fairytales because of its associations with magical occurrences. As such, this is where the talking wolf confronts Red Riding Hood, and other imaginative more idealistic possibilities are occurring. Therefore, both tales are safely interrogating the divide between real social practices, and imaginative possibilities using the tool of geographical positioning.
This is a good book for those who are looking for how fairy tales may affect children subconsciously.