Friday, April 19, 2013

Jewish Fairytale Tradition

Jewish fairy tales are distinctly different from their European counterpart. While certain similarities can be drawn, overwhelmingly a Jewish Fairy Tale is unique when compared side by side to other sects of tales. One obvious difference that distinguishes a Jewish tale is the use of the Rabbi. In all of the Jewish tales we read in class, the main character or hero figure is always the Rabbi. The reason for the continual use of this main character is due to Jewish tradition.  Jewish tradition holds the Rabbi as the center of the community and it is he/she who teaches his/her students (the community). So it is only fitting that the Rabbi is in the center of tales, and the main purpose of these tales is to teach a lesson to its readers. Both the Rabbi and the tales are vehicles of teaching the community life lessons. For instance, in the tale “It Could Always be Worse” the Rabbi teaches the lesson to his follower that his situation is not so bad after all.
Another factor that make Jewish tales unique is their emphasis on God. Many non-Jewish tales have motifs of religion or have religion as a centerpiece, but Jewish tales almost invariably contain God. In many of the tales selected for reading in class, there is always a lesson build in to say God is the reason for all things good or something along those lines. Though there are more differences to point out between Jewish and non-Jewish tales, the main differences are the use of the Rabbi as the main character and the focal point of religion/God. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rammstein- Somme Analysis

The music video for Rammstein's Song Somme is a modern tale of the classical fairytale Snow White. The video is littered with symbols used in many versions of the tale such as the apple, dwarves, and glass coffin. While I can see the common symbols and a basic plot line of Snow White, I think Rammstein's version deviates greatly from that of the others. For instance, Disney's version of the fairytale depicts Snow White as a very loving, almost motherly character. The dwarves are treated like children in the scene when Snow White refuses to provide them with dinner until they wash up. On the contrary, in the music video we see Snow White as a cruel mother who not only abuses her children but drugs as well. The meaning of the apple is even different in Rammstein’s version. In most of the classical versions of the story the apple (depending on which version i.e. a comb) is tool by which Snow White goes into a death coma only to be saved by the hero. In the music video, however, the coma is triggered not by an apple, rather the by the ingestion of narcotics. In addition, in the end the apple, not the prince, saves Snow White from her eternal rest.

Personally, I enjoyed the music video for Rammstein's Song Somme the best. This is because I think it puts a modern twist on the tale and provides a very real scenario for some underprivileged kids today. All across the world there are parents that consume heavy drugs like Snow White did in the video. Often parents who are drug addicts are not usually good parents. For example, within the video we can see how Snow White lines up the dwarves one by one to spank them. While discipline is not a terrible lesson for children, the character looks as though she enjoys the beating. Also in the video, we see that the dwarves find Snow White dead in the tub due to a drug overdose. It is a terrible event for a child to have to witness this but it does happen in the real world. I think I enjoyed this version the best because it was not your typical tale by any means. I enjoyed seeing another side of one of my favorite childhood fairytales even if it did not end happily ever after. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fairy Tales Through a Jungian Perspective

Fairytales and Jungian psychoanalysis share a strong relationship. In order to better understand this relationship, we must first understand some of the main components in the Jungian parts of the psyche.  Listed below are some definitions that will aide us in our understanding of this relationship.

Parts of the Psyche[1]

·      Ego: the conscious component of personality; carries out normal daily actions.
·      Personal Unconscious: repository of personal experiences
·      Collective Unconscious: Repository of racial memories. Encoded in the cells and passed on genetically.
·      Archetypes: Energy centers in the unconscious. Based on universal experiences, and expressed in dreams, myths and fairytales.

Within the lines of almost all fairytales there are components of the psyche according to Jung. Starting with the first two definitions listed, ego and personal unconscious, we can see how these definitions play a role in many fairytales. We can see that personal unconscious relates to most fairytales in the sense that the main characters in the beginning of the tales usually start out performing acts on impulse or desire. For instance, in Hansel and Gretel the main characters impulsively eat the gingerbread house without any thought of the consequences. Ego is supplementary to personal unconscious in most fairytales. This is because a majority of main characters go through some sort of transformation to rid themselves of these impulsive actions or personal unconscious. Frequently by the end of the story the main characters change from a state where personal unconscious is dominate to a state of conscious decision-making or ego.  Referring back to the Hansel and Gretel example, the two children end up using ego to make informed decisions on how to escape from the witch’s house.

The last two definitions on the list help us better comprehend why fairytales from all around the world have common themes and storylines. Archetype is the term Jung and others use to sum up these reoccurring themes and experiences. For instance, the idea of the lost husband is an archetype that is seen across many fairytales from different countries. The question is then, how can we have the same themes and consequently similar storylines from cultures that had no contact with each other? Jung answered that with his concept of the collective unconscious.  Relating back to the archetype of the lost husband, we can imagine that in the past there were many wars that drove men away from their homes. Consequently, many women were left widowed and uncertain of the fate of their husbands. Therefore, the archetype of the lost husband would have been prevalent in almost all cultures and the reaction to the feeling of the lost husband would have worked itself into the collective unconscious of different cultures as well.

[1] Mazeroff. Paul. Class Lecture.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Little Red Riding Hood as a Political Tool

BY WOLVERTON, CAGLE CARTOONS  -  6/2/2009 12:00:00 AM

         Little Red Riding Hood (LRRH) is one theme of this political cartoon. The cartoon itself depicts Sonia Sotomayor on her path to becoming a Supreme Court Justice in the United States Supreme Court. Like LRRH, Ms. Sotomayor’s path was not an easy one. Little Red Riding Hood’s path was difficult because she had a cunning wolf attempting to deter her from her trail of getting to grandmother’s house. While Sotomayor did not face a wolf, she faced an equally determined adversary in the GOP/Republican Party. Both the wolf and the GOP play the same role insofar that they attempt to halt the goals of the two women. While I think that the cartoon is a smart play on the fairytale, I do not necessarily enjoy the overall picture it sends. It gives me the impression that the Republican Party would literally go to any length to stop Sotomayor’s ascension to Supreme Court Justice. Perhaps this is true in a political sense, but it is not true in a literal sense. The story of Little Red Riding Hood contains possible negative underlying themes such as rape and cannibalism. Although I do not think it was the cartoonist’s intention to associate the GOP with these themes, I do believe that people with an in depth understanding of LRRH could interpret it this way. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, I do not believe anyone would want to portray our political leaders as rapist or cannibals.