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Lesson 1: Fairy Tales and Oral Tradition

Comparing three versions (Perrault, Frimm, French folklore) of the same story.

Sabrina Zheng

on 2 January 2014

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Transcript of Lesson 1: Fairy Tales and Oral Tradition

Overall Style
Riding Hood” Revisited
- Who is the protagonist?
Does she look the same every version?
- Who is the antagonist?
Is he the same in every version?
- Who are the supporting characters? What are their roles?
- What do the characters do in the stories?
- Do the story lines differ at some point? If so, how?
- Are the endings different?
- How about the message the story tries to convey?
- Does one story have more descriptions than the others?
- Is every story told from the 3rd-person omniscient viewpoint? (Do you know what the characters are thinking?)
What happens when the same story is told by different people?
Today we are going to examine
three versions
of the same story, and here are some of the things to look out for...
Version 1 (Perrault):
a little red riding hood
"It suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her little Red Riding Hood."
Version 2 (Grimm)
sweet little girl
a little cap
made of
red velvet
"Because it suited her so well, and
she wanted to wear it all the time
, she came to be known as Little Red Cap."
Version 3 ("The Grandmother")
Description missing! - But why isn't there a description?
Version 1 (Perrault)
"She met with a wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he dared not, because of some woodcutters working nearby in the forest."
Version 2 (Grimm)
"When Little Red Cap entered the woods a wolf came up to her. She did not know what a wicked animal he was, and was not afraid of him."
Version 3 ("The Grandmother")
"Where two paths crossed she met the bzou."
Version 1 (Perrault)
Even though woodcutters are mentioned, they do not intervene when the wolf eats grandma and Little Red Riding Hood.
Version 2 (Grimm)
The huntsman saves grandma and Little Red Cap.
In the second variant, another wolf is introduced.
Version 3 ("The Grandmother")
No added characters.
Questions for Discussion:
1) Do fairy tales have definite authors?

: How are fairy tales passed on?

: How do fairy tales spread? Are they limited by geographical boundaries?

4) How about language barriers? Can people from different cultural backgrounds share stories? If so, how?
What causes the differences in the three versions?
After looking at how fairy tales develop over
, let's come back to the question:

What factors cause the changes?
Now let's read an entry from the Britannica Online Encyclopedia to see what experts say about folk literature.
Written and Oral Traditions
Read “The Nature of Oral Traditions” and “Cultural Exchange in Written and Oral Traditions” from the entry:

- How is the oral tradition different from the written tradition?

- Who are the storytellers? How do they contribute to the stories?
Read “Characteristics of Folk Literature” and “Techniques of Folk Literature” from the entry:

- Summarize the characteristics
- Summarize the techniques

- Why is repetition used in fairy tales? Why do people like repetition?
- What is motif? Why is it frequently used in fairy tales? How is it related to the characteristics of fairy tales?
Characteristics and Techniques
Angela Carter once said,

“A fairy tale is a story where one king goes to another king to borrow a cup of sugar.”

- How do you understand this quote?

- How is the quote related to the characteristics of fairy tales?
Now, let's share some fairy tales you know with the class.

- How are they different from reality?

- Where do you think the differences come from?
We are going to examine some story prototypes, such as creation myths, morality tales, and whimsical tales.

Along the way,
we will meet heroes, princesses, witches, animals and fantastical beings.

In addition,
we will learn to:
- read independently
- make logical connections
- analyze and compare patterns
- write creatively
1) Build a dictionary of your own to define the key terms you encounter in this course, for example: fairy tale, myth, folklore, shaman, and so on.

2) Read the following two articles to develop a deeper understanding of “Little Red Riding Hood”:


Three Versions
Extended Discussion
In this course...
Full transcript