I wrote a blog post last week containing a short story about what would happen if the witch from Hansel and Gretel were to appear in the real world and how she would adapt to such an environment. With my love of fairy tales, this got me thinking more and more about the motives behind some of the villains from fairy tales and how they could possibly pertain to real life evils. I also started to wonder about why it’s so important for evil to be included in fairy tales and what kinds of lessons they can teach.
Everybody has secrets hidden away somewhere in their mind. Each smile hides an unknown person that can only truly be known by those considered to be close to that person. Unfortunately, every person has some kind of wickedness hidden within, but it falls on that person to choose if he or she follows through with that wickedness. Wicked, as defined by Merriam-Webster, the base of wickedness, as inhabiting the traits of being evil, vicious, or immoral.
In rare circumstances, characters will inhabit all three of those traits. However, it is difficult to decipher the intentions behind each act of wickedness. It is also difficult to interpret how wickedness differs from fairy tales and real life. When a comparison between the wickedness of fairy tales and real life is put into question, the most prevalent act is to carefully analyze the similarities and differences between the two.
Wickedness in reality can be found in a variety of forms and mediums. News programs report acts of wickedness on a daily basis in the forms of murder, robbery, and violence. Social media is filled with bullying, insults, and derogatory comments. Unfortunately, it is difficult to ascertain the exact reasoning for the wickedness. Conversely, most fairy tales provide the ulterior motives, inside thinking, and actual reasoning for each character’s wickedness.
The story Master Cat, or Puss in Boots does an incredible job of providing insight to the cat’s motives behind each act of wickedness. One act of wickedness occurs when the cat threatens farmers with their death if they do not say something specific. Strangely enough, the motives behind the cat’s threats are relatively based on the same kinds of motivations found in humans.
Even though the cat enjoys his malicious actions, it is clear that he wishes to help better his master’s position in the world. The cat pushes boundaries with his insults by saying, “If you do not say that the fields you are mowing belong to the Marquis de Carabas, each and every one of you will be cut into little pieces until you look like chopped meat.” His threats may have good intentions behind them, but they are still violent threats of wickedness.
On the other side of the spectrum, Hansel and Gretel portrays a version of wickedness that is not often seen in the real world. Murder is a known aspect of real life, however, it is usually not followed up with cannibalism. The witch in the story chooses to eat children out of hunger. Unfortunately, she also reacts out of a morally gray area of what is right and what is wrong. In real life, acts of cannibalism have happened. Although, outside of psychopathic circumstances, it is hard to gauge whether the act was done for pleasure or desperation.
Other acts of wickedness occur in Hansel and Gretel in a more passive manner. The woodcutter’s wife chooses to abandon the children in favor of her own survival. The woodcutter unfortunately agrees and chooses to abandon the children as well. Situations like this have definitely happened in real life, but it is hard to believe that a parent would so easily neglect a child. The abandonment of the children is a passive form of wickedness, but it is still wicked at its core. The wife’s act of self-preservation is a common attribute found in the real world. The question of its victimization of children is the difference.
Overcoming wickedness in fairy tales is strongly represented for several reasons. First, a protagonist needs a trial to overcome for the reader to empathize and sympathize with his or her plights. For example, without the witch’s threats of violence, a reason would not exist for the reader to celebrate the children’s victory over the witch. Second, people can easily relate to acts of wickedness and the need to overcome those acts. Readers can learn from the actions of a character. Sometimes, it is important to witness another person’s happiness, even if the character is fictional.
Because most of the wicked acts fail due to heroic actions, it helps because readers will become instilled with a sense of inspiration. Watching a person discover happiness by triumphing over some form of evil is a pure lesson in overcoming adversity. With such relatable situations, fairy tales help readers pertain the morals and actions of the story to real life. The defeat of wicked intentions helps readers appreciate and understand the morals of the story. Subsequently, understanding those morals will also help readers deal with their own battles.
Wickedness is a concurrent aspect of daily life throughout the world. However, simply witnessing an act of wickedness is not sufficient enough to inspire readers. Instead, the intentions behind the wickedness must be analyzed and examined. Once the intentions have been identified, readers can determine the best course of action to help avoid, defeat, and overcome wickedness. Even though the wickedness found in fairy tales can sometimes differ from real life, there are moments of relatability that help humanize the moral aspects of the stories. Unfortunately, the need to be good in a world filled with evil is highly prevalent. Without learning how to overcome malicious acts, there is no inspiration for achieving greatness