Looking through my blog posts from throughout this semester I can safely say that I have studied a broad variety of folk and fairy tales. It’s very eye opening reading through the posts to realize that as much information as they cover, they still only represent a portion of the totality of material I was introduced to throughout the semester. Before this class I was not fully aware of just how many different versions of certain tales there are, and more so that the versions I was familiar with were mostly popular Disney works. It was interesting to see first hand the universality of certain archetypes and themes that pop up in fairy tales of all different cultures. Most notably however, I feel that what I got most out of this class wasn’t the knowledge of the variety or specifics of the fairy tales we covered, but the experience I had in analyzing them and looking at them from new perspectives. There were many times I was forced to think in new ways and try to understand other people’s interpretations which from time to time I didn’t always agree with. This class has really opened up my eyes to different ways of thinking and has helped me to look at a lot of things in a new light.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
– William Butler Yeats
At our last class Dr. Deveny presented a lecture on the movie Pan’s Labyrinth. He presented some interesting ideas about how to classify and anylize the movie. The movie itself can actually be looked at as having to different story lines and also as fitting two different genres. The first story/genre is the fairy tale line in which the protagonist Ophelia encounters the faun and begins her quest, or set of tasks. The fairy tale line follows many of patterns of traditional fairy tales. For one the number three is important in the movie, as it is in many tales. The number pops up a number of times throughout the movie (the number of fairies, the number of magic stones used to kill the toad, and the number of tasks Ophelia must complete to name a few). It also follows the pattern of many fairy tales with Ophelia’s departure from home, a villain gathering information about the hero, and a villain harming the hero’s family. There are also subtle symbols within the story which, though are more likely placed there on purpose, are reminiscent of the symbolic archetypes that pop up in normal tales.
The second story is the historical one. Del Torro has woven the movie into the narrative of the aftermath of the Spanish civil war which took place between 1936 and 1939. The struggle itself was between the Fascist and Communist parties of the government and ended in a Fascist victory. The Fascist government after the war continued to fight guerilla groups of communist resistance. This battle of the guerillas against the fascist soldiers makes up the core of the historical side of the tale.