The fatalism of the fairy tales and the realism of the mythology parable

The strange draw that fairy tales have for both children and adults alike is easily explained. The inescapable pull of happy endings for the adults and the childish wonder of supernatural happenings are undeniable.

The beauty of Belle, the goodness of Cinderella, the bravery of Hansel and Gretel, the curiosity of Rapunzel and even the naughtiness of Noddy are all traits that were at once the cause of their incarceration as well as the means of their salvation. The scintillating hope that is the undercurrent of almost every fairy tale – the hope of redemption, the hope that good can conquer evil and finally, the hope that the world can indeed be a beautiful place.

Mythology Parables or even mythology epics on the other hand are a lot less fun and more serious in their content. Whether it’s Homer’s Odyssey or Ved Vyas’s Mahabharata, the underlying theme is almost always the oddities of life, the frailty of human psyche and the corruptibility of the high-souled. These are tales of the oppressed, the sorrows of the outcast and the failings of the highborn that dwells on their trials, tears and finally, their triumphs after an arduous journey. These are often tales of triumph at a great cost, of heroes and heroines who succeed in their quests of righteousness in spite of the temptations of a corrupt society within which they live.

As Angelina Jolie famously said, “The side of fairytales I don’t like is that they always have happy endings, that there’s just good and evil, and things are perfect. But life is a little more complicated, and that’s what I try to teach my kids.”

 Here is what fairy tales don’t teach us:

  1. There’s not always someone there to rescue you in real life.
  2. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and lies in the eye of the beholder.
  3. Being tough sometimes is more important than being sweet.
  4. Bad things happen in real life. It’s not always happily ever after.
  5. The past actions cannot always be undone and its consequences sometimes inescapable.

Here is what mythology parables teach us:

  1. True wisdom often defeats brute force. (Trojan horse in the Odyssey)
  2. Great victory often requires great sacrifices.
  3. True heroes are not always those who are flawless, they are those who succeed in spite of flaws.
  4. Greatness in power/strength engenders greatness in character.
  5. The world and all those residing in it cannot be conveniently classified into black and white. Sometimes, they are varying shades of grey in between.

So what will you teach your children? The fatalism of the fairy tales or the realism of the mythology parables?  The crazy hope that Snow-White’s death and resurrection instills in you or the tribulations that Yudhishtra suffers in his quests of righteousness?

“You decide everyday who you will and will not be. Be bold in your decision, but remember, choose wisely.” – Joel Brown

Linking up with Namratha at #wordsante


  1. Wow!
    That’s truly a question to be pondered about, isn’t it?
    You make your case perfectly in this post Lavanya. Realism is important.
    However, I would like to add one point. Probably fairy tales work better with really young children who don’t yet have the ability to appreciate the grey.
    I love such posts which make a concrete point.
    Thanks for linking up with #WordSante

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Namratha. This is always a toss up question – do you want your children sweet and innocent until reality comes knocking or would you rather they grew up informed and ready to take the world head on?


  2. AH! It is what I think whenever I read or watch a movie inspired from a fairy tale! While it may be an entertainment factor for children you are utterly true when when we think about in broader perspective that what children actually learning from those tales!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know Lavanya, I am happy to let my kids read whatever catches their fancy as long as they enjoy reading. Not all reading has to be serious. A good fraction of it can be escapist, thoughI cant deny that some of the fairy tales give me the heebie jeebies because of the inbuilt sexism and weirdness about step mothers.

    Liked by 2 people

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