Essay 2

In an essay of 1500 words consider one of the following topics:

  • Leading contemporary Fairy Tale scholar, Jack Zipes, takes a dim view of Disney’s treatment of Fairy Tale themes. He speaks of them as being: “‘Disneyfied’, that is, they have been subjected to the saccharine, sexist, and illusionary stereotypes of the Disney culture-industry.” (When Dreams Came True Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2007, p. 15). With reference to Snow White, consider in an essay of 1,500 words the substance of Zipes’s criticisms, and develop a counter-argument sketching out a possible defense for Disney. 
    Guidance note: You will find evidence for Zipes’ attack in the class reader: Maria Tatar, The Classic Fairy Tales, pp. 332–52, “Breaking the Disney Spell.” Additional material can be found in Zipes’s books The Enchanted Screen (New York: 2011) and The Irresistible Fairy Tale (Princeton 2012). It might also help to “read around” to check, for example, how typical Zipes’s response is to Disney as a cultural figure and about Zipes’s own standing in the field.
  • “The many-faceted symbol of ‘The Beast’ is central to an understanding of Liz Lochhead’s poetry.” Discuss in an essay of 1500 words, making detailed reference to at least six of her poems. 
    Guidance note: You might consider her relation to her sources: Are her Fairy Tale poems for example simply “translations” of the Originals, or do they add something new and original of their own—in which case what? And what light, if any, do they shed upon these ancient themes? One possibility might be to consider her standpoint as a woman in a tradition in which the gender issue has been rather complicated. Or perhaps one might look at the poems as a Freudian might—what would somebody like Bruno Bettelheim have made of them? There are a whole range of different possibilities here, and you need not feel bound by the above suggestions. You may choose your examples from any section of Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems.
  • Angela Carter expects the reader to be aware of earlier versions of her stories, and plays with this expectation." How true is this of the tales in The Bloody Chamber and other Stories? With detailed reference to at least three of Angela Carter’s stories, discuss, in an essay of 1500 words, their relationship with the earlier Fairy Tale tradition. 
    Guidance note: As well as the central strand of the topic, you might consider her rich and ornate style and what the texture of her prose contributes to tone, atmosphere and reception. Her writing has sometimes been considered disturbingly violent, even pOrnographic, and her readers are clearly not intended to be children. But what is it she might want to shock us out of (Or, perhaps, into)? You will find a good deal of criticism online on Jstor and elsewhere, which will help shed light on the question, but you should try to form an independent judgment, before turning to other sources (and remember, too, to acknowledge these sources in your finished piece).
  • “A knowledge of Hans Christian Andersen’s work is essential to an understanding of the later literary fairy tale.” Is this true? With detailed reference to at least one of Andersen’s tales and two later tales…Maria Tatar’s The Classic Fairy Tales, Alison Lurie’s oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, and Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber provide numerous examples, but you may chose more widely if you wish. The field is wide: Jack Zipes’s Grimm Legacies pp. 92–3 gives numerous further examples if you want to read around. However, if you do select a tale from outside the above list, please remember to include a copy of it in PDF form along with your essay.

Sample Student Work

“Transformation from the Passive to the Powerful” (PDF) (Courtesy of an MIT student. Used with permission.)

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2015
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments with Examples