Folktales as lessons in poetry

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To the child, the folktale world was really a gentle world, he [Wilhelm Grimm] said, for if it seemed that ‘might was right’ and that evil powers gained the upper hand, one should wait for the power of love and magic to take their effect. Folktales also had frail and gentle characters, those who merely smiled and transformed the world. These were the ones who won the greatest battles. The folktale’s most touching moments were the ones that appealed to the heart. It was the greatest miracle of all when the innocent laughter of a frail little princess banished an evil spell … A single tear, wept in sympathy for a suffering creature or human being, transformed a fearful monster into a loving prince. Such was the power of love that it changed the world. In this gentle, humanizing touch lay embedded the true magic of the folktale. Such thoughts, he said, were no idle dreams of an idealist. Feelings were as much a reality as the world outside, and the feelings that a child experienced in listening to a story were a powerful reality indeed.” (94)

“The most significant thing that folktales had to offer, said Wilhelm [Grimm], was that they taught us about ourselves, our inner resources, altruism, kindness, empathy, and genuine strength.” (95) 

Wilhelm warned readers not to make folktale characters the object of a lesson or a moralistic example. Folktales never preached. Lessons derived from folktales were lessons in poetry, not in morality.” (95)

Ref: Christa Kamenetsky The Brothers Grimm and Their Critics

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