Edu/enh291: Your Choice Traditional Literature Essay Fairy Tale Opinions

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EDU/ENH291: Your Choice Traditional Literature Essay

Fairy Tale Opinions

Look at the linked Fairy Tale Opinion page. Write an essay discussing, defending, analyzing, or arguing one of the topics or a topic of your choice with the instructor’s approval. Topics may include:

  • Loss of innocence portrayed in fairy tales

  • Damsels in distress and passive heroines

  • Cunning and malice of older women (stepmother, witch)

  • Characteristics of the male (subservient roles, not brave, luck)

  • Evident “rite of passage” between generations

  • Brain over brawn (story of underdog/trickster, overcoming great odds; superior cunning overcomes great strength and size; underdog’s task reveals stupidity of opponent; “heroes” use amoral means to achieve their goals.)

  • Villains (wicked, ugly, dominate, human side)

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Write about some connections to your own life that you thought of while reading Alice in Wonderland.

There are three versions of what we know as Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson): Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and Alice’s Adventures Underground. What were the differences, similarities, reasons for writing, and background history? What version do we know today?
Explain how Lewis Carroll used nonsense and absurdity to comment on reality.
Would you agree with readers and critics who compare Alice’s adventures to human dreams or nightmares? Explain your position.

Analyze in what ways Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland can be considered a critique of Victorian English life. Your analysis should include politics, education, roles of classes and gender, the court system, as well as the cultural environment.

Creative Comparison of Characters
In children’s literature many small, weak, young, or innocent characters encounter other characters who frighten or overpower them. Select one such character from a traditional literature story, and write a further adventure for the character, in which he/she encounters a character from another literary work. You episode should incorporate the author’s stylistic devices and philosophic beliefs. For instance, if you were writing about Alice in Wonderland, you would include Carroll’s use of distortion, humor, and the triumph of the weak over the strong.


Select a traditional literature story that has a clear point of view. Rewrite the story using the viewpoint of another culture or another gender.

Comparing and Contrasting Fairy Tales
Select two or three lesser-known fairy tales (all could be by one author, such as the Grimm brothers, or each may be written by different authors, such as Perrault, Hans Christian Anderson, and the Grimm brothers) Discuss how the tales are similar and how they are different from one another. Pay attention to elements such as the following:

  • Magic

  • Hero

  • Hard or mean characters

  • Kind or innocent characters

  • Good actions and bad actions

  • Lesson or moral that the tale teaches

Teaching Lessons and Morals

Select three lesser-known fairy tales or fables with similar morals or lessons. Discuss the different ways each tale handles the same lesson. Keep the elements of fairy tales and/or fables in mind as you analyze the tale. Determine which tale is the most effective in teaching a moral. Can a story have more than one lesson? Discuss the possibilities.
Making Choices

Using “The Fisherman and His Wife” as a basis, discuss three wishes you would make upon meeting a magic fish. Then discuss whether your wishes are for yourself, for someone else you know, or for others in the world around you. Make three new wishes, one in each of these categories. Discuss your reasoning behind each of your choices.
Female Roles

An awareness of literature by female authors and just as essentially with females in prominent positive roles in a variety of multicultural settings becomes vital for both young male and female adolescents. Provide the rationale and underlying assumptions for doing this in all classrooms, along with appropriate strategies for implementing a variety of children’s literature with this focus.

Some fairy tales are censored from school reading lists and libraries. Which tales are censored? Why are they censored? Who determines if the tale is acceptable or not? What reasons are given for the censorship? After explaining the issue, determine your viewpoint, and write an essay defending it.

Teaching Values
Many people do not realize the extent to which stories influence behavior and even shape culture. Think of the fables and parables that you have read. Think of how stories about your national, cultural, or family history have shaped your attitudes about yourself and others. Do the tales provide tidy moral lessons for young learners? Select several fables and/or myths and describe how they could influence a child’s attitude and behavior. What values do the stories teach? Should these values be taught in school?

The Many Versions of the Creation Myth
It is in the nature of humans to wonder about the unknown and search for answers. At the foundation of nearly every culture is a creation myth that explains how the wonders of the earth came to be. These myths have an immense influence on people's frame of reference. They influence the way people think about the world and their place in relation to their surroundings. Read at least three different creation myths (Greek, Roman, Japanese, Australian, Iroquois, African Bushmen, Hebrew/Christian, Egyptian, etc.) and discuss the differences and similarities. Do the myths have any of the same basic elements? How has the geographical location of the culture influenced the creation myth?

Sex and Violence in Fairy Tales
Fairy tales, John Updike has proposed, were the television and pornography of an earlier age. Reading through an unexpurgated edition of the Grimms’ collection of tales can be an eye-opening experience. Even those who know that Snow White’s stepmother arranges the murder of her stepdaughter and that doves peck out the eyes of Cinderella’s stepsisters are hardly prepared for the graphic descriptions of murder, mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and incest that fill the pages of these bedtime stories for children. Select several tales that have violence or sex as part of the story. Analyze the reasons, the need, the effects, etc. of including violence in fairy tales.

Fairy tales and Fables: do not write about the most common fairy tales (see the forbidden list on your traditional literature book review assignment).

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