Saturday, August 27, 2011

Meaning of Fairytales

I was going through my emails this wet Saturday morning and came across a LinkedIn discussion in the Folktales group about the prominence of the Wolf in stories like 'The Wolf and the Seven Kids' where the kids don't listen well enough to their wise mother and get eaten for their trouble. There was quite a bit of discussion about the wolf as representing Evil. I have always been a bit troubled by the quickness to ascribe evilness to any thing let alone animals. I responded in LinkedIn with the comment below.

"I'm inclined to look at the wolf as representing wildness that comes knocking unbidden at the doors of the house and family of civilisation. The three little pigs and the big bad wolf is another example of course and in this case the little pigs are actually constructing their own additions to civilisation at their wise mother pigs direction.

A interesting recent event in Australia developed mythic proportions and that was the case of the disappearance of the baby Azaria Chamberlain at Uluru. The parents claim was that a wild dingo had taken their baby from beside their tent and dragged it into the wildness of the surrounding bush. In this case the dingo/wolf was not seen as evil but the parents and especially the mother was. She was pilloried in the media charged and jailed. It took quite some time and a number of inquiries to establish that she was not at fault and had not killed her own baby.

Another example has been the dingos of Fraser Island where families like to go camping and fishing. They like to see the dingos as extensions of their family dogs but they are carnivores and a some children have been killed and mauled recently. A local woman, who loves/cares for the dingos and was feeding them because they were 'starving', was charged with doing so and dragged through the courts to prevent her with doing so. Her caring was creating more wildness in the Fraser Island camping sites because it encouraged the dingos to come into the sites and expect food even child food more often. At campsites of course civilization is quite flimsy and their are no fences or walls to keep children in and dingos out.

Peter and the Wolf is another interesting variation around the wildness aspect. It brings up the question of fear really well. I love the animated adaption by Suse Templeton of the Sergei Prokofviev's version. Here Peter is the counterpoint to the fear of his grandfather and the hunters and frees the captured wolf to return to the wildness.

I can't help wondering about these walls we create and the stories we tell. I think I'm going to have to come up with a different ending to my normal one for the Three Little Pigs. I normally have the little pigs succeeding against the 'big, bad wolf' and living happily ever after in 'their house made out of bricks and mortgage'. I wonder if one of the little pigs could learn about wildness somehow?

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