This week our class read and studied the fairytale works of Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde. As far as fairytales go, I got a general sense of disenchantment from these authors. That is certainly not to say I was disappointed in them as general works of literature. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these more modern narratives. However, from both my childhood and the readings we have done in this class so far, there are some general assumptions a reader brings with them when starting to read a fairytale. It is from these fairytale expectations that the works left a feeling of disenchantment.
First of all, both of these authors delve into great detail in their tales. Each story is very lengthy. Every character and setting is described to the T. This narrative choice is very untraditional for fairytales. Fairytales almost always rely instead on the reader to tap into his imagination. The broadness of the language also allows for an otherwise unattainable universality in the tale. So, in this way, the precise language robbed some of the wonder from the readings.
These tales also backtracked from the traditional sense of magic within the tales. Certainly supernatural events occur, however, in these tales, a greater reliance on spirituality and religion emerges. A couple of the tales speak of souls and one even has direct allusions to Jesus within it. This transition of the supernatural takes away from the traditional imagery of fairytale magic.
Finally, these stories certainly do not deliver on the "fairytale" ending. There are no "And they lived happily ever after"s. In fact, in many of the stories, the main character does not even live at all. That's not to say they are all negative, morbid tales. However, there is such a strong religious message of self-sacrifice and morality that many of the tales do not give earthly gratification to the protagonists.
Nevertheless, like I previously mentioned, I enjoyed these tales. I especially found it incredibly interesting to read fairytale works from Oscar Wilde as I had never before associated him with the genre.