How Fairy Tales’ Impact Our Life (Maria Tatar and Bruno Bettelheim)



Fairy Tales and Folklore play a large part in the development in our society. The authors, Maria Tatar and Bruno Bettelheim, both show how fairy tales’ impact our life. Maria Tatar, the author of “Intro to Fairy Tales,” takes the standpoint of how fairy tales provide emotional development by uncovering the readers fears and desires. She states how fairy tales take the harsh realities of life and provide hope by happy endings. She also shows how we relate fairy tales to our own life. Bruno Bettelheim, the author of “Fairy Tales and Modern Stories,” shows how fairy tales become an escape of reality and provide hope for young children. He shows how fairy tales effect people differently and how people relate to their reading. Bettelheim also states how modern fairy tales seem to have a sad ending, which causes the children reading the stories to favor older fairy tales. While both authors address the important factors of which fairy tales play in our life, Maria Tartar focuses on how fairy tales help the reader uncover their fears, while Bruno Bettelheim emphasizes how they provide an escape from reality.

When interpreting Tatars article, readers may find some of Tatars views to be contradicting, while Bettelheim has strong evidence to support his analysis.  For example, Tatar uses the story of Cinderella to prove one of her findings. Cinderella was told not to attend the ball, not to talk to the prince and many other stipulations and rules which her stepmother tried to control. Cinderella didn’t listen to her Stepmother and ended up ‘happily ever after’ (295). This is contradicting because the ‘dangers’ may not outweigh the possibilities of success. The whole point in life is to bring about mistakes, learn from them, and become a unique individual.

When interoperating Bettelheim’s article, readers will find how he provides easily understandable evidence. For example, Bettelheim shows how children are comforted by fairy tales. He furthers his findings by stating “The girl read over and over again the story of this happy family who lived on a desert island… She recalled what a warm, cozy feeling she had when propped up by a few large pillows, she forgot all about her present predicament as she read this story” (301). Bettelheim further explains his point on page 301 by using his research and furthering his findings. He uses an example of a girl who read the story of The Robinsons. She recalled how comforted she was when reading this story. She may not have been able to relate her situation to the story, but it still provided hope for the future. Along with providing hope for the future, fairy tales also allow children an escape. Bettelheim states, “Fairy Tales offers escape fantasies, and it did help the girl who read it over and over to forget temporarily how difficult life was for her” (302). This shows how Fairy tales, once again, provide a temporary escape for children. When a child reads a fairy tale, they tend to perceive happiness and become lost in the story. They relate themselves to the characters. Even though the story only provided a temporary form of happiness, it was what the young girl truly needed.

Bettelheim and Tatar might both share the same view: Fairy tales have become an important factor in our lives, however, Tartar shows how fairy tales open children’s eyes to the harsh realities, while Bettelheim shows how children shut out the real world while reading such tales. We relate the villains in the tales to real life problems. It is shown when overcoming these problems the reader requires imagination and hope. Fairy tales are proven to evoke strong emotions and can even be used as a therapeutic tool. On page 291, Tatar quotes one of Bettelheim’s quotes, “In his landmark study, The Uses of Enchantment, Bettelheim argued that fairy tales have a powerful therapeutic value.” 

When examining fairy tales, we need to look at the psychological standpoint as well as the origination, cultural influences and the tweaks which have been formed over time. In the story, Bettelheim shows how fairy tales effect a child. Bettelheim conveys examples of how three different children are affected by different fairy tales. Some fairy tales provide more hope to one child than others. This is because the child could relate specifically to the story. The author also talks about how modern fairy tales seem to have a sad ending; therefore, children tend to favor the “older fairy” tales over the modern fairy tales (302).

Interpretations, such as an escape from everyday life, are just one factor to which fairy tales provide for children. Tatar progress’s into further detail by describing how “each of these three readers responded in very different ways to a story that we are accustomed to considering as a cautionary tale warning about the dangers of straying from the path” (194). This displays how fairy tales may be interpreted in many ways: there is no right or wrong way to interoperate a story. Our interpretations tend to be based from cultural influences. Isn’t the whole point in life is to stray from the path? To be unique? 

As both authors show how fairy tales play an important role in our lives, Tatar views fairy tales as a way of introducing children to the real world, while Bettelheim further states how fairy tales offer an escape from everyday life. Fairy tales are proven to evoke strong emotions and can even be used as a therapeutic tool.  When examining fairy tales, readers need to look at the psychological standpoint as well as the origination, cultural influences, and unexpected tweaks which could have been formed in to the story. Stories change from person to person, and generation to generation. There is no correct interpretation of an article. If both authors considered the fact of how children and adults interoperate stories differently, they may have reached a similar analysis of fairy tales. Meaningful conversations open a bridge for parents and children to have deep and meaningful conversations, while strengthening the bond between parent and child by creating memories to last a lifetime.