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Thoughts on the Elves and the Shoemaker (and fairy tales in general)

admin / February 11, 2017

Bubba recently got given a set of the Ladybird classic fairy tale book collection.  She loves, loves, loves it and spends a vast majority of the day pulling each book out of the box that it comes in and flicking through the pages (amongst poking my eye out with the sharp edges).  Tonight, she chose the Elves and the Shoemaker for her bedtime story.  I must admit, I’ve never come across this story before; it’s obviously a gaping hole in my fairytale education.  So I was just as intrigued with the story development as she was.

The start of the story was interesting; it said something along the lines of this:

The shoemaker and his wife were very poor.  Over the years they got poorer and poorer.  Finally the day came when the shoemaker had only enough leather to make one last pair of shoes.  Once the last pair of shoes gets sold, him and his wife will be destitute.

All I could think of from this point forward was: that’s a terrible business model.  If he’s consistently working, shouldn’t he make more and more?  And even if that’s not the case, should not the sale of the last pair of shoes give him the funds to make more shoes?  Isn’t that the point of a sale?  Or was he so far down the line of bad business, that the shoes will sell for less than the cost of the raw materials?

I mentioned these inconsistencies to my hubby.  Then we started talking about fairy tales in general.  Some of them are just plain weird.

Like the princess and the pea; why is it a good thing if you get bruised by a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty feather mattresses.  What is a real princess anyway…..Do we even want our children to be real princesses?!

And what’s the deal with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  Why is Snow White responsible for cooking and cleaning for seven men? And how can you resurrect someone by knocking the poisonous comb out of her hair, or the poisonous apple out of her mouth?  Obviously it’s a different type of poison to those used in Greek tragedies, where a single touch is deadly.  They need to get more powerful stuff for the fairy tale poisons.

And, and, and……why are beautiful people always kind and ugly people always evil?

Hopefully bubba be kind, irrespective of how she looks.  And hopefully she won’t judge the character of a person based on their looks.  I know, I know.  Fairy tales are just that.  Tales.  Sometimes life is easier if we don’t read too much into stuff 😉  But really has anyone else ever thought that fairy tales are perfectly normal stories when you read them as a child, but that they are perfectly creepy when you read them as adults?

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