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Are Fairy Tales as Innocent as They Seem?

"Every fairy tale has a dark side" Urooba Sheikh

Fairy Tales. Stories that are so beautiful. Worlds full of fantasy adventures, true love, self discovery, magic and pureness.

When we read fairy tales, or any stories for that matter, we look at the emotions in it, the lessons, the underlying meanings. However, what would happen if we look at these narratives objectively. Even the Disney versions, which have been made sorely for the entertainment of children, watered down from the dark, gorey original tales, aren’t all innocent when looked at practically.

The fairy tales we know nowadays, are recreations of the original tales by the Grimm brothers and other creators. These PG versions are full of sparkle and glitter as compared to the 'bloody' originals. Also, they only show the tale from one point of view and end after the necessary 'happily ever after'. The first editions of these stories, however, didn’t all end happily.

There are many retellings available now that tell the same stories from different perspectives making it difficult to decide who the villain is. These villain retellings tell us the backstory of the villain and the reason for the antagonist’s villainy. An example of such a retelling is the Broadway Musical ‘Wicked’ which tells us the childhood and life of the Wicked Witch of the West, who is portrayed as the villain in the story of the ‘Wizard of Oz’. Retellings such as this often put the story in a grey area instead of only the black and white in the original, as now we know the villain’s point of view too.

A lot of Disney films focus on the conflict itself instead of the motivation of the villain. This leaves us with holes in our knowledge only thinking of what the hero has been through, forgetting that the villain is human too.

An example of this could be the story of Peter Pan. It is never mentioned why exactly Captain Hook hates Peter. Some could argue that considering the fact that Peter is the one who cut off Hook's arm, Peter is the true villain and Hook has every right to want revenge. Captain Hook is also quite polite and is constantly at odds with himself and his code of villainy. However, since we only get the perspective of the ‘hero’, we don’t realize that maybe, Hook isn’t so bad after all.

Let’s continue with the example of Peter Pan:

This story is quite a ride. It begins with a 'boy', who does not age, listening to bedtime stories from outside the window of three children. On the surface this is quite cute but when you really think about it, Peter is a grown adult in the body of a teenager. He doesn’t physically grow, but he has been around for a lot longer than Wendy, John and Michael, aging mentally. He may still have a childish personality, but he must be a thirty, forty year old. This man sits outside the window of unsuspecting children and listens to bedtime stories.

His first actual appearance is when he is searching for his lost shadow in the room of three children in London. These children, Wendy, John, and Michael Darling are of various ages under fourteen. Peter is looking for his lost shadow inside the room of the kids which probably means he has entered their room before, considering that he said he was there to ‘retrieve’ it.

He takes these underage innocent kids to a wondrous land. The kids with him were excited and amazed at the sights around them, and rightfully so. Peter then goes on to make a young teen, a pseudo mother to dozens of boys who don’t have any ladies around. His fairy friend, Tinkerbell, then attempts to kill Wendy as they reach Neverland due to the fact that she is jealous.

The Darling children are also introduced to multiple dangerous scenarios courtesy of Captain Hook who has a vendetta against Peter Pan and anyone associated with him. This particular pirate is now after the children as well as Peter, ready to kill them. Peter has also committed serious violence by cutting Captain Hook’s hand and feeding it to a crocodile. There are kidnappings and dangerous tribes involved as well along with a bunch of other questionable things.

At last, the Disney version of the story ends with Captain Hook being chased into the distance by a bloodthirsty crocodile. Thankfully, Wendy decides that she wants to go home as her mother will miss her. So, the kids end up safe.

This story is hilarious when being watched as a film for entertainment, and I’m sure that most kids won’t go into an in depth analysis of the movie, however, I personally am very interested in both the dark, and revised versions of fairytales. Even though the story has been adapted to suit the age group that watches Disney, in the end, the story is quite a dark one. There are many other stories like this, and believe it or not, some are even darker!

Like, did you know there are versions of Alice in Wonderland which are some of the most horrific stories?! They’re almost all about drugs and the amount of blood is insane! In the original Alice in Wonderland, Alice meets a blue caterpillar who smokes hookah! Alice is a seven year old girl who is sentenced to execution by a crazy psychopath and hangs out with people who do drugs. If you think about it, technically, even the ‘Eat Me’ and ‘Drink Me’ bottles/cakes could be interpreted as drugs.

Another crazy version of a fairytale is the original Cinderella! Did you know that one of the stepsisters cut off her toes and the other, her heels, in order to fit into the glass slipper?! The only reason the prince didn’t fall for it was because the birds that Cinderella had befriended sang to him about the blood in the shoe.

Not all versions have violent happenings though. There are some really sweet versions of a few fairytales.

In conclusion, I find merit in the quote by Urooba Sheikh, "Every fairytale has a dark side". Perhaps, we should also be aware of the other side of the story before making judgements- not only in fairy tales.

P.S. I love fairytales and am an avid reader of them. By no means is this blog to dissuade you, or your children (if you have any) from reading these wonderful creations.

Picture credit- Pixabay

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Jan 26, 2021

Oh my gosh! Yes! I had read that version a few years ago... I completely forgot about about it. They also have twin children in that story, right?


Ananya Marmamula
Ananya Marmamula
Jan 25, 2021

Hey, did you know that in the original Rapunzel story, the prince who climbs Rapunzel's tower using her hair is pushed by the evil witch into some thorn bushes? This makes him blind and wanders a desert for 2 years until Rapunzel finds him. She then cures the blindness with her tears and they live happily ever after...

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