Fairy Tales : Cautionary Tales And The Effectiveness Of Teaching A Lesson

1677 Words Nov 17th, 2016 7 Pages
Fairy Tales: Cautionary Tales and the Effectiveness in Teaching a Lesson The tradition of telling fairy tales to children effects not only the listener but also the reader. Maria Tatar, in her book Off with Their Heads!, analyzes how fairy tales instill and reaffirm cultural values and expectations in their audience . Tatar proposes that fairy tales fall into three different tale-types: cautionary tales, exemplary stories, and reward- and- punishment tales. These three types portray different character traits as desirable and undesirable. Due to the tale’s varying literary methods it can change the effectiveness of the tale’s pedagogical value. In Tatar’s opinion, all of these tales are similar in the way they attempt to use punishment, reward, and fear to encourage or discourage certain behaviors. In the cautionary fairy tale “The Virgin Mary’s Child”, the use of punishment and fear to discourage certain behaviors is enhanced by the Christian motifs and values employed by the tale. These literary devices encourage the audience to reflect on and internalize the lessons that are presented in the fairy tale. In “The Virgin Mary’s Child” the use of fear and punishment as pedagogical devices gives the audience an exaggerated example of the negative outcome to discourage certain behaviors. Cautionary tales are distinguished by the plot being centered around a prohibition by an authoritative figure and a violation by the main character. The main character’s disobedience is a…

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