The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives

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9780465091485: The Witch Must Die: How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives

What accounts for the enduring charm of fairy tales? The answer, says the author of this enchanting and insightful book, lies in the way these stories help children deal with classic psychological conflicts. The tales do this by projecting the child's own internal struggle between good and evil onto the battles between the characters in the stories. Cinderella, Rumpelstilskin, and Pinocchio vividly dramatize envy, deceit, gluttony, lust, and sloth, giving children a safe stage on which to confront their own deadly sins.” When good triumphs over evil, readers also vanquish their sinful tendencies. Cashdan elegantly analyzes how fairy tales speak to human concerns, highlighting the roles played by iconic images like glass slippers and gingerbread houses, stepmothers, and sorcerers. He shows how fairy tales differ from culture to culture (in the Grimm version of Cinderella birds pluck out the stepsisters' eyes but in Japan the stepsisters apologize and are forgiven); what happens when the tales are Disneyfied”; and how fairy tales can have a surprisingly salutary effect on adult readers. Along the way he probes the eternal questions: Why does Snow White eat the poison apple? Why is the stepmother so mean? Why is Cinderella's father never around when she needs him? TheWitch Must Die recalls a time in all our lives when fantasy was king and life's important lessons emerged from magical tales.

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About the Author:

Sheldon Cashdan, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Abnormal Psychology, Interactional Psychotherapy, and Object Relations Therapy.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A disappointingly disjointed attempt to elaborate on fairy tales' psychological mission. Cashdan, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, begins with general statements about fairy tales that are then contradicted in subsequent discussion. For example, the author claims that fairy tales are not faithful representations of reality, while demonstrating that they are in fact products of their time and cultural environment. Further, Cashdan finds in many fairy tales the same dynamics of power, envy, and control as exist in the workplace. He traces transformations that over time shifted the plot of some of the best-known tales, showing that the changes were induced by the mores of each particular society. In a separate line of reasoning, Cashdan declares that fairy tales were originally conceived as entertainment for adults and not to teach children any moral lesson. However, the central argument is that fairy tales address pragmatic concerns, helping children to personify and combat the reprehensible parts of their own character and emotions. Hence the central position in many fairy tales of the witch, a carrier of such deadly sins as sloth, greed, gluttony, vanity, and deceit. The witch's inevitable death at the end of the tale serves to ensure the child permanent victory over the selfs sinful side. To reinforce the effficacy of moral instruction in fairy tales, Cashdan provides suggestions on the use of specific tales in child education, and a reading guide for parents and teachers. When he ventures beyond psychology into literary and folklore studies, his analysis appears even weaker. Evidently not familiar with Vladimir Propp's seminal work, ``Morphology of the Folktale,'' which has informed folklore studies for the past 70 years, Cashdan invents his own superficial structural model of fairy tales. Most of the book merely retells well-known fairy tales, while the contradictory and confusing main argument could easily have been condensed to just a few pages. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Sheldon Cashdan
Editorial: Basic Books (1999)
ISBN 10: 0465091482 ISBN 13: 9780465091485
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Cashdan, Sheldon
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Descripción Basic Books, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110465091482

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Sheldon Cashdan
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