Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children and the Culture Industry

A lot of you may have grown up on fairy tales such as Puss in Boots and Hansel and Gretel. If you’re like me, they were a staple in growing up with a fair moral code. Now that we’re older and we’ve been brainwashed by these stories, it’s time to look at them in a more mature way.

This is where Jack Zipes comes in.

His novel Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry analyses several classic fairy tales and how they develop over time. It started off as an interesting piece describing the origin of Puss in Boots and how it changed from Stragoli’s interpretation of the classic story to the 1922 Disney version. The shift between ideas and values are put on display, and it isn’t just with this chapter.

He continues this basic formula for the first few chapters. I got to learn about Hansel, Gretel, and Pinocchio. This includes the amazing fact that Collodi and Conan Doyle have something in common. Read it to find out.

Honestly, this part was my favourite part of the book. Learning about the origins of these stories and the deeper meaning behind them was almost magical. I honestly imagined myself in a forest surrounded by these great storytellers and eating bread as they tell me the origin of their work. Throughout these chapters, Zines introduces a basic history lesson. It wasn’t over the top, but was the right amount.

Zipes continues his story by discussing how these stories are presented in the 20th Century, such by people such as Walt Disney. While some of these chapters were interesting, others weren’t. The Lion King chapter had to be the most disappointing. I just didn’t gain anything from it, and I was tempted to abandon the book before finishing the chapter. I’m glad I was able to push through as the final chapter made up for it. It just demonstrated how Fairy Tales are great for hope.

There is an abundant of research throughout the book, and it was mostly included in a seamless way. Zipes knew what he was talking about and had experts that agreed with him. Even when he disagreed with them slightly, he did state that he respected their opinion. I think there were only one or two instances where it felt forced.

Another strong element of the book is excerpts and rundowns. These were good as it helped Zipes proved his point, but his explanation of modern adaptation became a little bit pointless. He just didn’t go into it as much as I hoped.

I would have to give this book 8.6/10. The Lion King chapter removed one point from it. The other .4 comes from the minor issues I had with it, but that’s just nitpicking. I suppose I’s also because the impact fairy tales have on society wasn’t discussed as much as I originally thought. It was still a good read, so I would recommend it to anyone with a basic interest in Western fairy tales.

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