Psychology And Fairy Tale

.. now known as Oedipus traveled to the prophet. The prophet told him he would murder his father and marry his mother. Horrified at the prediction he refused to return home to his adoptive parents. He wandered around and was struck by a chariot containing his birth father. Oedipus killed his unknown birth father and the driver. Unconcerned with what he had done he came to Thebes where he found a sphinx guarding the city.

The sphinx would not let anyone into the city unless they answered a riddle. After answering the riddle correctly the sphinx killed herself. The citizens were so happy they offered their queen to Oedipus. He then married the queen who was his unknown birth mother. After having four children the city was plagued with famine.

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The gods claimed to plague the city because a son killed a father and continued to live among them unpunished. The truth was revealed and the queen hung herself. Oedipus was blinded and left the city into exile. This same plot can be related to a well known fairy tale. The tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can be directly related to the myth of Oedipus. Her stepmother raises Young Snow White after her father`s death.

The evil queen was very vain and asked her magical mirror every day who was the fairest of them all. Once the mirror replied Snow White the queen ordered her to be killed. This can be compared to the life of Oedipus. His father believed his unborn son (Oedipus) was going to kill him and become king. His jealously forced him to have a royal servant kill the young baby.

The stories become more similar as they advance. The royal servant in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is sent to kill Snow White but he could not kill such a beautiful creature. Therefore he abandoned her in the woods. Luckily she found a home and lived with the dwarves. ?Despite her stepmother-s jealousy, Snow White not only survives but finds great happiness.¦ (Bettelheim 199).

The servant sent to kill Oedipus could not commit the terrible dead and opted to leave him at a home in the forest. In spite of the king-s attempts Oedipus gains the crown. Both tales are of unwanted children who prevail in the end. Sigmund Freud-s theory of sexual development contains five stages. This theory has faced opposition from many critics. ?Freud went down deeper, stayed down longer, and came up dirtier than anyone else.¦ (Miller 242).

The third stage or the Phallic stage occurs from the age of two until the age of five or six. During this stage children suffer from what is known as the Oedipus complex. The Oedipal conflict for a girl centers on her father. She wants to be with her father and give him children. She views her mother as an overpowering or evil force that prevents her from being with her father.

In the Oedipal conflict, a young boy resents his father for standing in his way of the mother`s full attention. The boy wants the mother to see him as the hero. He wished to get the father out of the way. However, he needs his father to protect him. He also fears the father will castrate him. This fear forces the child to repress his desire and his hostility.

When the repression is complete the complex disappears. The theory of the Oedipus complex can be seen in many fairy tales. Tales such as Cinderella and Rapunzel contain oedipal overtones. Cinderella is the tale of a young girl held captive by her dictatorial stepmother. Her stepmother tries to prevent her from attending the royal ball and meeting Prince Charming.

The prince can be compared to Cinderella`s father. The queen is standing in the way of Cinderella`s desires for the prince. Here the theme of the overbearing female figure of the Oedipus complex is transferred into the stepmother refusing Cinderella of the prince. A similar female Oedipus complex is present in Rapunzel. An evil witch traps the young girl in a tower.

A prince walking by the tower begins a relationship with Rapunzel. The witch stands in the way of the young girl to be with the prince. This story also contains a male oedipal conflict. The prince wants to be the hero and save Rapunzel. Just as the oedipal boy wants to be the hero to his mother. These two fairy tales are just few examples of this dominating theme.

We should never accept the fact that we have grasped the entire and ultimate meaning of these narrations. (Heuscher 395). To read a fairy tale and relate it to any psychological theory is not an easy task. Many people have different opinions on the topic. Some people feel fairy tales should be left alone and not picked a part.

Others feel everything must have a hidden meaning. Heinrich Zimmer once said, We can never exhaust the depths of myths and fairy tales- of that we may be certain; but then neither can anyone else. (Heuscher vii). Fairy tales can mean many different things to many different people. Children may like fairy tales because good triumphs over evil.

Adults may favor them because they trigger childhood memories. And a psychologist may prefer fairy tales because every tale presents a theory. In the end everything boils down to the fact that, fairy tales were written to be enjoyed. Bibliography Bettelhem, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment.

New York: Vintage, 1976. Blake, Toni. Enduring Issues in Psychology. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1995. Feldman, Robert. Understanding Psychology. New York: McGraw Hill, 1990.

Heuscher, Julius. A Psychiatric Study of Myths and Fairy Tales. Springfield: Thomas, 1974. Lang, Andrew. Fifty Favorite Fairy Tales. New York: Nonesuch Press, 1964.

LÝthe, Max. Once Upon a Time on the Nature of Fairy Tales. New York: Ungar, 1970. Miller, Geroge. Psychology: The Science of Mental Life.

New York: Bann, 1962. Restak, Richard. The Mind. New York: Holt Company, 1988. Velikovsky, Immanuel. Oedipus and Akhnation. Garden City: Buccaneer, 1960.