Once upon a time, two German brothers began collecting the best fairy tales that they could find. Very carefully they began to weave together an array of sagas involving noble princes, stunning princesses, enchanted forests, stately castles and the best of them all – magic. The Google doodle this morning celebrates all of that and more. It is a celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Grimm’s fairy tales; the 209 enthralling legends that have bewitched readers and editors alike and have dramatically influenced our culture.
In a complex world like ours why do so many of us still choose to believe in fairy tales? What is it about these convoluted stories that engross us? Is it the inevitable happy ending or does it have to do with the black and white characters that take us through an intricate web of plots and sub plots? Either way, fairy tales appeal to that part of each one of us that still loves a good story. The part of us that comes alive and responds to a good old-fashioned happy ending.
So many things about a simple tale can interest us even today. The archetypes and symbols used can be interpreted in so many ways that it’s possible to continually see the same tale in a new light as one gets older and goes through different life experiences. They are timeless and that’s true for a persons’ chronological age as well as their personal maturity but also over centuries and across cultures, race and gender.
For this reason and more fairy tales are allegorical and resonate within the hearts and minds of people of all kinds and in so many parts of the world. They show us our past, our future, our limits and our potential. They show us the world and, most of all, they show us ourselves. Fairy tales have endured the test of time because they provide a form of escapism. Also the protagonists often also display favorable human-like qualities so we can connect with them. They give us hope in our lives which often is hard to find.
Fairy tales tell us both of the tenacity as well as the stillness of the human spirit. I guess for grown-ups, deep down in our heart all we really want is to live in a place where magical things could happen, where good people can always beat evil people, where Mr. Charming is always looking for his princess, as opposed to the backstabbing realities of the real world. But more than anything I genuinely believe that deep down inside, most of us really do want other people to get their happily ever after too.
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be overcome and killed.” ― G.K. Chesterton