Fairy Tales 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Tiger's Bride

So, technically, I did not find this story on my own, we were assigned it for class, but I think it is my absolute favorite story we have read all year (the Juniper Tree comes in a close second), and I was very interested to find it in both the Tatar and the Zipes books. The first time I read it, in the Tatar book, as a variation of the "beauty and the beast" tale type, I read it very much as a fairy tale. Partially because i had read several stories before it that are considered "fairy tales" so I mentally compared it to the other beauty and the beast stories, and my main conclusion was what made it unique was the fact that the beast, the animal, wins in the end over the humanity, and rather than transforming the tiger into a human, Beauty is transformed in to a tiger. Reading it as a literary fairy tale, I obviously still saw the underlying Beauty and the Beast story, but there were so many layers on top of it that made it magical and fantastical, but altered the feeling of a fairy tale. First and foremost, the story is narrated in the first person, by Beauty, and the story is very specifically located: Beauty comes from the Russia, the Beast lives in Italy, we know details that are far more specific than any other fairy tale. I think the psychological insight into Beauty's thought process is far more intimate, and literary, than anything in Grimm's tales. Also, the ending, as mentioned, is a decided twist on the fairy tale marriage/happily ever after. What fascinates me is how the mechanical becomes part of the fairy tale, eeriely, in the house where nothing is human. There seems to me, in the mechinization of most of the house, to be a hint of what I would be more inclined to call science fiction. On the one hand, I think the only thing that makes this story a fairy tale is that it is based in a fairy tale, or at least that it draws the general arc of the plot from a fairy tale. On the other, I think not calling it a fairy tale is creating too narrow of a definition of fairy tales. This sort of brings me to a strange conundrum, but I think it shows how, even in a story that is not written like a fairy tale, if there is even a hint of a fairy tale somewhere in the story (either in the plot or the style, like "The Happy Prince") will still, to some extent, "sound" like a fairy tale in the end.

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