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Fairy Tales and Folklore

Fairy tales and folklore are stories that have been passed down through generations. In Aesop’s Fables, a popular group of folktales, the main characters include animals, the sun, the wind, household items and people. Most fairy tales involve mythical creatures like mermaids, dragons, fairies, and giants. Typically, folklore and fairy tales contain a moral message.

Hans Christian Anderson is famous for his fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 150 languages. Born in Denmark in 1805, he displayed great intelligence from the time he was a young child. His first story was published in 1822. Some of Anderson’s most famous stories are "The Little Mermaid", "The Ugly Duckling", and "Red Shoes". In particular, The Ugly Duckling was based on his own life. He began writing his fairy tales in 1835. Anderson became so famous for his work that he even kept company with royalty and met Charles Dickens in 1847. Dickens later published David Copperfield, which had a character based on Anderson in it.

Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published some of the most gruesome fairy tales in the world. The pair grew up in Germany and lived a good life until their father died, after which the family struggled. They were inseparable their whole lives and both worked at the University of Gottingen. Although they did not write the stories, they collected them so they wouldn’t be lost. Among their published works are "Sleeping Beauty", "Snow White", "Rapunzel", "Cinderella", and "Hansel and Gretel". The first fairy tale book was published in 1812 and the last in 1818.

There are many common themes that are seen in fairy tales and folklore. One common theme seen in both fairy tales and folklore is that pride is a dangerous emotion and can be harmful. The famous fairy tale "Jack and The Beanstalk" has two common themes in it. The first is that the weak can defeat the strong. The second theme involves outwitting the opponent. Jack makes use of his cunning mind instead of his strength. The theme of "Beauty and the Beast" is that people should look past physical appearances to discover inner beauty.

Many fairy tales and fables have become well known throughout the world. For example, "Snow White" is the story of a young woman named Snow White whose vain stepmother is jealous of her beauty. She orders Snow White to be killed, but the huntsman lets her go and she is taken in by seven dwarfs. When the queen finds out that Snow White is still alive, she puts on a disguise and poisons her with an apple so she falls into a deep sleep. Snow White can only be revived when her true love kisses her. A prince sees her sleeping, falls in love, and kisses her. Snow White awakes and they live happily ever after.

"The Tortoise and the Hare" tells of a fast hare that constantly ridicules a slow tortoise. The tortoise challenges him to a race. When the race begins, the hare pulls ahead and arrogantly takes a nap, but when he wakes, he discovers that the slow tortoise has already won.

"The Little Mermaid" tells of a young mermaid who turns into a human in order to gain a soul so a human prince will fall in love with her. When he falls in love with someone else, the Sea Witch who transformed her tells her that if she kills the prince and spreads his blood onto her feet, she will become a mermaid again. The mermaid can’t bring herself to kill the prince. Instead, she throws herself into the sea and turns into sea foam. For her good deed, she earns a soul and goes to Heaven.

Fairy tales and folklore are loved in every country with some people even dressing up in costumes during the holidays and it’s because of the lessons they teach.