The use of enchantment essay

The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales" by Bruno Bettelheim is a non-fiction work focused on analyzing fairy tales and how they play an important role in both ancient and modern society. Bruno Bettelheim was a child psychologist and philosopher who was well known for his work with autistic children. This process allowed the fairy tales to be shaped and changed to fit the audience and the times, often creating radical changes.

The use of enchantment essay

This century, particularly in America, has seen a move away from fantasy and toward true-to-life experiences. Social comment, documentaries, starless movies are all the rage.

Such insistence on the factual, the real, has similarly affected children through educators and parents. Even Santa Claus may have slipped in popularity.

Bettelheim claims that schoolbooks teach skills rather than meaning, give information rather than delight. Cycles are common, and it seems we have come full circle once again with the publication of this book. Whereas society has been pronouncing fairy tales to be unhealthy fare, Bettelheim claims otherwise.

The violence of fairy tales, the devouring wolves, the wicked stepmothers, the poisoned apples, the powerful giants are, in fact, beneficial to the young child and serve a function which more realistic literature cannot. Bettelheim, throughout the book, quotes the great and near-great, such as Dickens, Chesterton, C.

Lewis, and Tolkien, to lend credence to his own belief in the appropriateness of such literature. He seems to be saying that what has been good for children for centuries should not be suddenly condemned in this modern age.

In fact, with the pervasive, deadening effects of television on children, fairy tales may be more necessary than ever. Such unillustrated books encourage the child to develop his own mental picture of the dark forests, the moat and castle, and the wicked leers of evil queens.

Before beginning a more detailed analysis of the structure and meaning of fairy tales, Bettelheim carefully outlines, summarizes, and defends his thesis in the Introduction. This is probably a good thing for readers, serving as it does to clarify and buttress the ambitious scope of the book.

Bettelheim applies a Freudian model to interpret the separate elements of fairy tales which help the child deal with life in the present, and with the mixture of good and bad feelings the child may have about himself.

Such psychoanalytic jargon sometimes makes it heavy going for the average reader, but Bettelheim is ever careful to define his terms and to supply specific examples. For example, when the knight in shining armor rescues the damsel in distress from the flaming jaws of the dragon, a resolution of an Oedipal conflict occurs.

A young boy, listening to such a tale, could legitimately play out his fantasy of having Mother the damsel all to himself by slaying the dragon Daddy. On the unconscious level the child has wished to be rid of Daddy, but at the same time felt guilt because he loves Daddy too and recognizes that without Daddy the family would be left alone and unprotected.

The child, identifying with the knight or hero, is able to emerge triumphant without bringing harm to those he loves.

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

Bettelheim is careful to stress that the child knows the story is not real, nor could the child understand such repressed and unsavory urges as wooing and winning his own mother. It would be wrong and would seriously undermine the magical quality of the story for the parent conscientiously to explain the Freudian meaning of the story.

Bettelheim claims that such children, having had no magic, are incapable of coping with adulthood. What of fable, myth, or allegory, which likewise spring from the imagination and meet the criterion of good literature by delighting and instructing?

The use of enchantment essay

He spends much time distinguishing between the fairy tale and myth and lauding the superiority of the fairy tale. He sees the third or weakest child succeed, Jack slay the giant, Cinderella overcome her early suffering.

The child begins to see that some day in the future he may be all that he wants to be. Although the Introduction helps the reader exceedingly by telling him where he is going, he may nevertheless be hard pressed to persevere, to assimilate, and to retain such a vast body of material.

The opening chapters of the book are difficult to follow at times because Bettelheim, using some psychological catch phrase, then dips into several tales to pull out elements which support and illustrate that phrase.

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

It seems that in covering so many stories, many of which are not at all familiar to the reader, he defeats his purpose, which is to influence broad public opinion in favor of fairy tales. He has convincingly reassured parents that fairy tales, far from unnerving and harming their children, do, in fact, enrich their lives and bring greater mental and emotional health.

However, given the recent unhappy status of such tales, it is probably vital that he leave no happy-ever-after unfulfilled.The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales Summary & Study Guide Bruno Bettelheim This Study Guide consists of approximately 27 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of .

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“The Use of Enchantment” Children are seldom told fairy tales nowadays. There are several story books for children with moral lessons to learn at the end of the book. There are many great kids books with standards of moral values, which are favorite for family education.

Children are seldom told fairy tales nowadays. There are several story books for children with moral lessons to learn at the end of the book. There are many great kids books with standards of moral values, which are favorite for family education. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales Summary & Study Guide Bruno Bettelheim This Study Guide consists of approximately 27 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of .

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