Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Of Elves, Dwarves, and Fairy Dust

Cinderella was always my favorite fairy tale. I'd like to say to that I fell in love with the Grimm Brother's account...but I didn't. I think my fascination really began with the Disney movie, hearing all the music, enjoying the little characters that although not in the real fairy tale, made the movie awesome. Gus-Gus stands out in memory, for instance. ;P

But when I was around seven, I read The Chronicles of Narnaia - and a whole new world opened right before my eyes. Suddenly, fawns and talking animals and kings and queens seemed like they really could be real. It made me want to step into Lewis' magical world and become a part of Narnia.

Actually, I tried once. My mom and dad had a big oak armoire and one day, just for fun, I stepped inside. I didn't close the door all the way behind me and even though I knew for a fact that nothing was going to happen, I went to the back anyway. I knocked on the wooden panel in the back and for a moment, I could feel what Lucy must have felt when she came back from Narnia. That sense of disappointment and betrayal, that feeling of wanting something so badly but knowing that it will never, can never, happen.

The next logical step into fairy-land seemed to be Tolkien's famous series, The Lord of the Rings. Most of my friends have read those books and are captivated by the elves and fairies of that fairy tale. I tried reading those once...it didn't go very well. The descriptions and amount of brain power that has to go into reading those fictional books just aren't worth it for me. I'll try again some other time- but for now, I'm content to *not* be a part of the passionate Tolkien conversations and debates.

Now, I'm almost fifteen. You'd think that my time among fairies and talking animals has passed. But I'm afraid it hasn't. I don't think it ever will.

Let's think about fairy tales for a moment. There's Cupid and Psyche, Lucy and Tumnus, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. All are so uniquely different. The first, the story of a Greek god and his love. The second, the tale of a modern-day English girl and a friend she meets in a magical land. The last, a teenager abandoned and banished because of one woman's vanity.

But all of them still are fairy tales. Not because they're not true. Although they do have that in commmon, you'll find that elements of each story could be in fact real-life. Instead, they all rest upon one person's decision, upon one choice that determines the fate of all.

"In the fairy tale, an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incoprehensible condition. A box is opened, and all evils fly out. A word is forgotten and cities perish. A lamp is lit and love flies away. A flower is plucked and human lives are forfeited. An apple is eaten and the hope of God is gone."
-GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 77

Linking that to my life, there are some real corellaries. We all make choices, every day. Getting up out of bed is a choice, talking with my family is a choice. And for each choice we make, there is a consequence. That's a part of life that we all have to face-actions result in consequences. I know, we all hate them, but yet they still remain.

That's what characters in those seemingly unpretentious, harmless fairy tales learned. When Pandora cracked open the lid of that box, she submitted to her temptation and curiousity. She would have to face, for the rest of her life, the fact that she single-handedly brought death and destruction into the world.

When Psyche lit that oil lamp and looked into the face of her husband, she, if only for an instant, forgot the love she had for him. She forgot all but a burning need for knowledge which she finally quenched, but at what a price!

Our decisions have results. Our lives are made up of choices and potential. Potential tragedies, potential joys. Just like those fawns and fairies, nymphs and dryads in elfland, we get to have the final say over our life.

What is the end of the fairy tale?


By the way, dear readers, I just re-discovered an incredible literary treasure. Or treasures, rather. It really does belong as a footnote to this post...seeing as the books are called "fairy tales re-told"...and I can't wait to blog about it. Maybe in a couple weeks?

But just to get you ready- a quote:
"Have you ever felt that there was something going on in life that not everyone was aware of?...As though there’s a story going on that everyone is a part of, but not everybody knows about—a sort of drama, a battle between what’s peripheral and what’s really important. As though the people you meet aren’t just their plain, prosaic selves, but are actually princes and princesses, gods and goddesses, fairies, gypsies, shepherds, all sorts of fantastic creatures who’ve chosen to hide their real shape...Or have forgotten who they really are.
Have you ever thought that?"

--Rose Brier, The Shadow of the Bear


  1. Eeeeek! Love, love LOVE the fairy tales retold series. Can't wait to see your blog post about them! :)

    1. Cheyenne: Yes indeed. Beautiful books. Now, to figure out how to write a post with no spoilers...>.<
      What's you favorite book?

  2. Lovely... I'm linking up to this on my blog.