My fairy-tale obsession started with Disney, but it didn’t end there. When I “outgrew” princesses, I found myself immersed in fantasy worlds, including those of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. I made a full circle in high school when I read original fairy tales such as “Through the Looking Glass” and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In addition, Disney began to cater to an older audience with re-creations such as “Maleficent” and “Into the Woods.” As an English major, I have the opportunity to explore the literary value of both traditional fairy tales and high fantasy. Here are four quotes to reignite your childhood fascination with impossible things:
- “Legends and myths are largely made of truth” – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Inklings were a literary society of Oxford scholars in the 1920s. Members included Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, best known for their creations of Middle Earth and Narnia, respectively. In addition to being a philologist and author of the Lord of the Rings legendarium, Tolkien developed a philosophy of fairy tales in his essay “On Faerie Stories” (found in Tree and Leaf and The Tolkien Reader).
- “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up” – C.S. Lewis
This is similar to Lewis’s dedication of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” to his niece, Lucy Barret, claiming that someday she would be “old enough to read fairy tales again.” Lewis used 1 Corinthians 13:11 to defend his love for the genre. His fascination with myth enhanced his Christian faith, as seen in his essay “Myth Became Fact” (found in God in the Dock).
- “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children” – Madeleine L’Engle
As adults, we often dismiss basic allegory and metaphor. Children’s worldviews are shaped by the stories they grow up with. Take off your cynical grown-up lens, and you’ll find that behind the castles and magic, there is often message even more enchanting.
- “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten” – G.K. Chesterton
More than anything, fairy tales are cathartic. We encounter impossible lands and impossible creatures in order to learn the truest lessons of all: good conquers evil, and love reigns.I encourage you to enjoy a fairy tale again. Whether it’s picking a dusty book off the shelf or purchasing tickets to see Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, delight in fairy stories unapologetically.