An Analysis of the Meaning of Morals in Fables and Fairy Tales

Categories: Fairy Tale

The term of a "moral", which we think that we can find almost in every serious piece of writing, should not be mixed with the "theme" of the text. Such terms as "moral", "lesson" and "message" are acceptable almost in all fables, when readers simply are forced to think and believe in what the author clearly states at the end of the story. Speaking about the other fiction, nor we can find the moral in a one clear sentence, nor we can find the theme of the text clearly stated.

Not always we can say that the most important goal for the author is to teach his readers and regard what happened in the story to their lives. More often authors of the interpretive literature are writing simply to tell the reader about the existence of such life situation and leave the author with his own thoughts and judgments. Furthermore, it frequently happens with inexperienced readers that they as if try if the story fits to their reality.

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In this case, it is better to ask "What the story reveals?" than "What the story teaches?".

Regarding this issue, I was always wondering, why do adults always consider fairytales for children only? And are fairy tales always about fairs? No, fairy tales are not always about fairies, though they are always full of strange and wonderful happenings. Most often fairy tales are about ordinary people - men and women, boys and girls - who somehow get caught up in magical events. Fairies may or may not appear, to either help or hinder them.

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Some of the best-known fairy tales are Little Red Riding Hood, Snow-White, and Puss-in-Boots. Fairies do not appear in all of them - though magic certainly does. Moreover, from my point of view, almost every fairy tale brings a very strong message and can be considered as a serious piece of writing.

Probably, everybody remembers from the childhood the famous fairy tale by Brothers Grimm "Little Red Riding Hood". A small girl was sent by her Mother to visit her Grandmother through the dark wood. On her way she meets the wolf and tells about her intention to visit her Granny. The wolf leaves behind the girl and arrives at Granny's house. Granny considers the wolf being her granddaughter, and the wolf does not lose a chance and gulps the Granny. The huntsmen luckily are not far from Granny's house, see the wolf sleeping take scissors and cut his stomach. At the end, from its stomach huntsmen get Granny alive and as a result, the good wins the bad.

A small child hardly would understand the strong sarcasm of the author about people's naivety; constant fight of the good and the bad; and final achievement of justice with the help of violence. More often children are interested in fairytales because the unbelievable things are happening there, magic is there. On the contrary, adults are aware about the cruel reality and see fairytales totally from the different angle. The theme, the main idea and so called moral always exists in fairytales, if only you can find it.

There are many examples of fairytales, which bring the message and the moral to the reader, such as "Cinderella", "Snow-white" and many more. The other aspect is that almost in all fairytales there is unchangeable moral: the victory of the good over the bad, praise of diligence and patience. Summing up all things concerning fairytales, from my point of view, each fairy tales has its moral, and ability to see it perhaps comes only to the grown ups.

There is another aspect which can be discussed; when the author leaves the reader to think about the story, with the characters' help and their lives, with the help of moral issues which the characters of the stories may face. Probably, Kate Chopin's the most famous novel, The Awakening, is a good example where the author raises the questions of morality and self-sacrifice. Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of the story, places herself as the individual against society from the beginning of the novel. Throughout the whole novel her behaviour is and actions are judged by the society and eventually it ends with a breakdown of her moral integrity. She as if fights with the society, acting as an individual and a woman, which the civilization does not accept.

Edna differed very much from the figure of ideal mother; therefore, her uncommon behaviour towards her children was inappropriate for the existing society and it placed her in abnormal standing. On the contrary, Edna's friend, Madame Ratignolle, is shown as the epitome of motherhood and feminity, with many children and innate maternal instincts. Madame Ratignolle was shown as a contrast to Edna because she possessed the dependent attitude which the society of that time not only encouraged, but in some aspects required. Edna could not deal with this kind of lifestyle, although she loved her children very much. She was more accustomed to leave children with nanny or a friend rather than looking after their needs herself. As Edna proved, she can give everything to her children, but she cannot give herself. This woman went against the moral obligations and rules of mother and wife that time, she went against the world.

Although from the beginning of the novel, Edna was pretending to love family duties, her thoughts were far away from home. She fells in love with a young flirt who followed her around, Robert Lebrun. As they fell in love with each other, Edna's independent longing was inflamed, and her passions began to overpower her self-control.

As Edna's husband, Leonce spends most of the time away from home on business. He is obsessed with making money and acquiring expensive possessions for his home. Mild and gentle, he is extremely tolerant to Edna's whims and rebellions. Seeing that, it is easier for Edna to let go of her morals. She becomes despondent and unfocused after Robert suddenly goes to Mexico. Most probably the severe longing for him and grief of his removal she becomes intensely connected to herself. When she started painting again, trying to express her inner passions, she began to feel life again. In her visits to Madame Reisz's piano concerts she was moved to tears at the music that touched her soul. She loves nature, and energy of the ocean.

It was easier to cut outer strings of enslavement to Edna's duties as a wife and mother when Leonce was away on a trip. She just gathered her things and left from her house. Edna very soon realizes that she had chosen unacceptable way of life for the society she lived in. Although her friend, Madame Ratignolle told her just to live the life she was called to lead. But unfortunately Edna could not do it.

Before the tragic end Edna visits her family doctor and their conversation she tells, "The trouble is ... that youth is given up to illusions. It seems to be a provicion of Nature, a decoy to secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any cost." People are not given the possibility to see how their life might be had they made different decisions. But, the story of Edna Pontellier, the wife, mother, hostess and friend, showed all too clearly a woman who was really a lover, a painter, an outcast, and a soul who knew to well what might have been.

The novel closes with Edna returning to Grand Isle. Having already decided on her course of action, she walks down to the beach and stands naked at the sun. Without really thinking, she begins to swim out into the ocean. She thinks triumphantly about how she escaped her children and their claim on her and continues to swim until she is exhausted. Memories of her childhood flash before her eyes as she slowly drowns. It was the only answer she knew, the only decision she could make to become independent.

Kate Chopin's contemporaries at the end of nineteenth century were shocked by her depiction of a woman with active sexual desires, who dares to leave her husband and have an affair. Instead of condemning her protagonist, Chopin maintains a neutral, non-judgmental tone throughout and appears to protect her character's unconventional actions. The author of the Awakening was socially ostracized after publication of her novel, which was almost forgotten until the second half of the twentieth century.

The primary theme of the novel is the conflict between a woman and the moral standards, which existed at that society in that time. Edna represents the heroine, which at some point was able to resist the pressure of the world. She embarked on a path of emotional, intellectual, and sexual awakening after spending a very pleasant summer with her young admirer, Robert Lebrun. In trying to gain a sense of herself as a complete, autonomous human being, she flouts convention by moving out of her husband's house, having an adulterous affair, and becoming an artist. A woman before her time would hardly afford herself to be completely independent of her husband, but Edna was. She was the prototypical feminist at the end of the nineteenth century. The society was not ready for such changes, that is the possible answer to the question why Edna commits a suicide.

The moral means different thing for different people and it can be found at everything; at the story you have just read, in the newspaper, it can be found in any life situation. Our life is full of signs how to live better. Philosophy in general, attempts to answer the questions, "What do I do?" and "Why?". People study philosophy so they can know how to live their life. So that you can live life successfully and happily, you must learn which values to hold and how to achieve them - this is your life as your moral standard. All moral questions are questions of how to live happily and successfully, and all moral principles must be measured against how they promote and benefit your life and happiness. Your life as your moral standard holds all things promoting your life as the good.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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An Analysis of the Meaning of Morals in Fables and Fairy Tales. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from

An Analysis of the Meaning of Morals in Fables and Fairy Tales essay
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