All fantasy is couched in reality. Our everyday problems, dilemmas, hopes and dreams are masked by a story of adventure, romance and glory. Children learn about life and their place in the adult world through such stories. Some fairy tales have violent incidents, but these are modified by the fantasy element and more importantly by the warm presence and reassurance passed onto the child by the story teller

Fairy tales represent a long period of sleep where adolescents draw into themselves. In tales, characters become active and seek bold adventures. By gathering strength in solitude and by encountering strange beings and beasts they discover their true selves. The happy ending signals the finale to a long period of inactivity.

The stories of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White for instance, hold deep meaning for youths, revealing a period of tranquility, calm and little activity. This is important for contemplation and concentration on the self which leads to growth and maturity.

In Jack and the Beanstalk, when Jack climbs into the clouds he is setting off on his own, defying parental authority. He also redeems himself for his lack of experience in trading the family cow for a few beans.

The tales of Robin Hood turn on the premise of the good outlaw who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Mel Brooks probably said it best when he stated that ,"Robin Hood stole from everybody and kept it for himself." It is this cynical attitude in the face of delightful fantasy that creates humor.

Good fantasy contains truth in the guise of mystery and magic. A story that lacks some harsh realities lacks strength and most important believability.


© Howard Beckerman 2004-2020