Fantastic Literature Essay
Fantasy is a product of our subconscious minds. Just like the stories of the past, fantastic literature tries to give its messages with an indirectly way for making an impact to our subconscious minds. In other words, Fantastic literature is a genre of fiction that uses imagination, magic, supernatural elements such as ghosts, harpies, trolls, mermaids, nymphs, vampires, centaurs, personifications, allegories and unrealistic elements as its primary plot element, theme or setting. Many fantastic works includes an imaginary world where magic and fantastic creatures are common. The best known and successful English work for the genre is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings triology. But there are lots of successful works and famous writers of the genre such as Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and H.P. Lovecraft’s collection of stories about Cthulhu Mythos. The fantastic literature starts with the bed time stories in childhood such as fairy tales or folk tales to give instructions. We can say, it has a special appealing to children because of its didactic nature for giving moral lessons. Moreover, the children are too young to know the difference between real and the fantasy.
Much of these folk tales comes from the times of Middle Ages where the place storytelling has an importance. This importance changed by the time due to technological advancements because rational progress decreased the amount of these stories. It happens to everyone when you grow up, the advancement of rational progress can decrease your superstitious beliefs and imagination. But using the middle age as setting, establishes a perfect base for fantastic stories because of the lack of technology, dogmatic thoughts and the importance of storytelling. Therefore even in our time, the fantastic works uses the middle age as its setting and much of the works in fantastic literature takes place in Middle age. When we come to its origin, in western culture, the origin of the fantastic literature depends on the mythic stories. But if we specifically give a document name for the genre, then we can say its origin comes from the stories of Homer The Iliad and The Odyssey. In eastern culture, this origin comes from Arabian Nights. The iliad and odyssey gives us the definition of the genre in the first place because of its contents.
In case of Odyssesy, it includes gods, monsters such as centaurs, Cyclops or witches and wizards. And there is also a quest in the story as its plot. Odysseus tries to return to his home at Ithaca but he is not allowed by Poseidon because of his insults such as killing his cyclop son and claiming that he won the troy with only his own mind tricks. It is quiet similar to the stories of the Arthurian Romance such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight because of their usage of quest as framework. Same thing is in use in the case of LOTR. As a characteristic of the genre, there is always a quest in a fantastic work. Many of them include a universe as their setting look alike Middle ages because it is easy to create stories when you created the universe. There are also some common themes of the genre such as Good vs. Evil, Deceived heroes, making a sacrifice for saving the earth, journey to unknown etc.. All of these elements are in Fantastic literature to give lessons. The sign of a Fantastic work is the inclusion of fantastic elements, a self-coherent setting as a universe to take place in and the inspirations from the mythology or folk stories.
It gives a freedom of expression to author for explaining a rational sense within a supernatural framework. Therefore it may confuse the reader but there is always a message in these fantastic stories. It starts with the fairy tales in childhood. Fairy tale: Fairy tales a stories that contains a message and has an appealing to children for giving instructions with an indirectly style and by showing example through the story. Fairy tales aims to give moral lessons to its audience. Therefore, it is the first tutor of the mankind. They may include elves, dwarves, fairies, giants, ogres, trolls, goblins, mermaids, witches and wizards. There is always an adventure or a quest in these stories. But they are different than the legends in essence because there may be a truth behind the legends. Ancient Greeks are often accepted the legends as real events and told their stories for centuries but they didn’t the same thing for the folk tales. There is always a certain pattern in these fairy tales, all of them starts with same word Once upon a time for implying that the story takes place in an unknown time.
There is also a happy conclusion at the end of these stories such as “they lived happily ever after”. They can be found in oral or literary form but it is hard to trace their origins. Many of them may appear in different cultures with variations. Much of them appeals to adults but they are often associated with children. There are some collectors of these folktales such as Grimm Brothers and Charles Perrault. Folklorists have classified the fairy tales with various ways. Among them Vlademir Propp is one of the most notable with his Morphology of the Tale. Vladamir Propp was a Russian folklorist scholar who analyzed the framework of Russian folk tale and published his analysis with name of Morphology of the Folktale in 1928. In his work, he divided fairy tale into sections and through these sections he tried to define the series of sequences within a fairy tale. To him, a fairy tale usually starts with an initial situation. And right after that there are 31 different sequences with different functions. He used this method to analyze the frame work of the Russian folk tales.
Propp’s morphology is an exemplar for the analysis. In this type, the structural organization of a folkloristic text follows a chronological order as linear. Therefore, we can see if the tale has all of these elements from A to Z. Also we can give a name to those sequences. A tale usually starts with an initial situation such as with the enumeration of the family or the brief introduction of the hero. And after this point there are 31 sequences. Absentation: In this part, a member of the family leaves the home such as a prince may leave home to go for a journey by leaving his wife back. This absentation can also be someone’s death or going for a walk, fishing..Interdiction: In this point, the instruction comes to the hero such as don’t change your way, don’t talk with stranger, take care of your little brother to preparing a base for the further calamity. Violation: A counter action happens against to interdiction such as hero often violates this limitation and leaves the right way, talks with strangers. At this point a new person enters the story. And it could be a dragon, wolf, witch or a stepmother as a villain.
Reconnaissance: Villain makes an attempt to find something. Villain is in search of something valuable or information such as the location of the children, wolf’s aim to find the goal of Little Red Cap by questioning her. Delivery: Villain receives a directly information to his questions. The wolf learns the house of the grandmother. Trick: The villain makes a persuasion. It is an attempt to trick his victim in order to take possession for his victim. Dragon turns into a golden goat, the witch turns into an old beggar and tries to give poisonous apple, wolf tries to act like grandmother by wearing her clothes. Complicity: The victim accepts the deception and helps his enemy without knowing. Princess accepts the apple, The wolf acts like grandmother and little red cap could not recognize it. Villainy or lack of something: The villain causes harm or injury such as princess falls into a sleep after taking a bite from the apple, the wolf devours the little red cap as a result of violation of the interdiction.
One member of the family is in lack of something or desires to have something. The Prince intends to search for his bride, A magical agent is needed to wake someone up, huntsman tries to find a prey Mediation: the hero enters into tale with a quest or he is dispatched. The prince appears and decides to go for a journey to the tower of sleeping beauty, the huntsman appear hearing the snores of the wolf by thinking that there must be something wrong. Beginning counteraction: The hero sees the situation and decides to do something, the huntsman sees the belly of the wolf and thinks that he devoured them, the prince hears the story of sleeping beauty. Departure: the hero leaves home to make a counterattack.
First function of the donor: A donor appears and meets with the hero or greets him for testing him to give some kind of a magical agent. The hero’s reaction: hero gives an answer to donor such as making a help to him, showing mercy, completes a service, learns some tactics, The hero receives the magical agent: he receives some kind of a power to defeat to evil. The transference between two kingdoms: The hero is transferred from one place to another to whereabouts an object or search. The hero flies through air on a bird, or travels on a boat. Struggle: The hero and the villain fights to get something for themselves. Branded: the hero receives a wound during the fight.
Victory: the villain is beaten during the open battle or loses the game of cards. Liquidation: The initial misfortune resolved, spell casts off, captives freed Return: the hero returns to his home
Pursuit: The some kind of evil pursues the hero and tries to kill him Rescue: the hero is rescued from the pursuit, an obstacle may delay the pursuer, the hero hides or saves his life from the pursuer. Unrecognized arrival: hero returns his home but no one recognizes him just like in the case of Odysseus. False claims: A false hero appears and presents unfounded claims. DIFFICULT TASK: Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks); SOLUTION: Task is resolved;
RECOGNITION: Hero is recognized (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her); EXPOSURE: False hero or villain is exposed;
TRANSFIGURATION: Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc.); PUNISHMENT: Villain is punished;
WEDDING: Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted). Grimm Brothers were two unusual German scholars, linguists, academicians and great philologists that lived in the 19th century. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were two brothers and these brothers were nationalists and intended to collect the old Germanic stories and publish them to show the universality of German language. They were very interested with the Germanic folklore tales and dedicated rest of their lives to collect these tales.
Therefore they collected stories and folk tales from the country and represented a pure form of national literature and culture. They established a kind of methodology for recording and collecting these folk tales and later on it became a basis for the folklore studies. They published their first collection of Germanic stories, and folk tales in 1812 with the name of Children’s and Housholde Tales. Their stories, includes the all details of German language and Germanic cultural identity. Their works translated into more than 100 languages. The most important and famous stories of them are Rapunzel, The Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, The Frog Prince and Little Red Cap. Little Red Cap
Little red cap is a Germanic folk tale that published by Grimm brothers in their story collection known as Children’s and Household Tales in 1812. It is the 26t1h story of this story collection. It tells the story of a sweet but not obedience girl known as little red cap because of her famous Red Hood. But behind the background of the story, it is a story about grow up by leaving the naïve thoughts behind. It is a story that questions the curiosity of the children and urges them to leave these thoughts and get mature by following rules. By using the big bad wolf as a villain, it gives us a message that don’t be so naïve, these fine gentlemen are nothing but greedy wolfs and they are so hungry for using your naivety for their own sexual purposes. So, follow your rules and don’t ever change your way.
It can be interpreted as a moral tale, to give a message such as don’t talk with sexual predators. After the brief presentation of the characters, the story starts with an absentation in which the grandmother is sick. So her mother gives her a bucket and says bring this to grandma and don’t leave the path or you might break the glass. This is our interdiction and our quest. But she doesn’t listen to her mother, a counter action (violation) happens against to interdiction and wolf makes an entrance to story. The wolf questions the little red cap, this is our reconnaissance. And she answers all its questions with a naivety and describes the way that goes to her grandma. (delivery). The wolf goes there devours grandma and takes place of her (trick). She comes to house and accepts its trick without knowing what it is (complicity).
And wolf devours her as result of her wrong actions (Villainy harm). Some versions of the story like Charles Perrault version ends in here but Grimm version continues. The huntsman makes an entrance to story (mediation). And he decides to free grandma and little red cap(beginning of counter reaction). He cuts the bell of wolf with a scissor and saves them both. This is the rebirth of Little red cap as a mature (Struggle, branding, victory, liquidation ). In any case, it is a story of puberty rite in which the red cap born again as an adult woman and learns how to act against to odds. After that point she doesn’t cares about the other childish things. The advancement of her rational progress is ending her childhood.
The Frog King- Iron Heinrich
The frog king is the first story of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm which they published it in their folk tale collection known as Children and Household Tales. The frog king is all about the glimmers of emotional life where they are developing in the first place, the childhood. It is story about sexual awakening in human beings, its acceptance and maturation process in human beings. There are some symbols in the story such as the frog, the princess and the Golden ball. The frog is the symbol of production and fertility and it is connected with witchcraft. Princess is the symbol of purified aspect of human soul and the golden ball is the symbol of perfection. The princes in this story, is so beautiful, even more beautiful than sun that is explains her relationship and her desires towards to golden ball. When she lost the ball, she grieves at not only her ball but also grieves over her loss of innocence. She thinks that she will not be the whole again.
But the only thing that can make her whole again is an ugly frog. She likes herself and this situation represents her narcissistic psyche. In the story, the princess increasingly becomes more anxious, angry and full of fear with the idea of marrying with a frog. She is not yet ready for the marriage. As the frog comes closer to her, she becomes more disgusted. This is also gives us her idea about awakening of sex throughout the puberty. But actually she becomes more a person while the frog comes closer to her. The father in this story is responsible for the marriage of the princess and he commands her to keep her word. Her actions are all under her id and there is a need for the development of super ego in her personality.
Therefore, the responsible conscience of King helps to development of superego in child’s mind for bringing happiness, love and marriage to her life. And to become whole again, she finally decides to throw it against to wall by taking all the risks to gain her independence. This moment of violence is a painful experience but it is necessary. By doing so, she transcends her anxiety and hatred into a love. She becomes more a person by developing identity and her ugly frog turns into a handsome prince in her eyes.
The story of Snow white is a Germanic Folktale that published in 1812 by Grimm brothers in their Collection of stories known as Children’s and Household Tales as the 53rd story. It is a story about the cycle of life as can be seen from the color symbolism of the story. But it also increases the theme of maturation process of a girl through some tests. It is a very common theme which can be found in the stories of Grimm brothers maybe because of the fact that their informants were woman or to put an emphasis on marriage for representing its importance in a feudal and patriarchal German society. Who knows? Anyway most of their stories are including these themes of Marriage, maturation, loss of innocence, growing up and including these damsels in distress as main characters. And in most of their stories the true love comes after the defeat of self-love as reward of maturation. Story starts with a queen’s wish to have a baby like white as snow, red as blood and black as wood.
It is a kind of symbolism of life that represents the natural cycle of life in which after every death a life starts to its lifetime. As a result snow white represents this natural cycle, she is the personification of this cycle. As soon as she born, her mother dies in order to give a birth to her. And that is also another emphasis that given to represent this cycle. After this point her unconcerned king father marries with another woman who is wicked. The unconcerned personality of King, although there is no king in the story, represents the feudal European perspective of seeing women as object. The personality of stepmother is another issue; she is the personification of immatureness. It is clear that she has failed in her personality development to have an identity. Therefore, she has only the self-interest just like the princess in The Frog King or Iron Heinrich. Therefore she plays her role to prevent Snow White for reaching her age because of her envy, pride and hatred.
She orders to huntsman to kill her but he spares instead of killing her. He spares her because of potential status as a woman and bringer of new life. Therefore, the existence of huntsman also is a foreshadowing for the union of the opposite forces such as man and woman. In the story she deceives Snow White for three times and each times represents another aspect of life just like the color symbolism. In the first with a lace to prevent breath (White) which represents the spiritual matureness, second with a comb (Black) to represent the physical matureness and in the last with a red apple (red) to represent death or blood for establishing a basis for the death of childhood and the rebirth of as mature woman. Sleeping in a glass coffin also supports this idea of rebirth as a mature woman.
Glass coffin represents the being in a woman’s womb. In essence, the witchcraft of queen was nothing but a test. After completing all these tests she becomes a mature woman and young prince appears as a reward. She marries with him. Therefore, completing these tests is essential in human life and story tries to put an emphasis especially to this aspect of life. The real love comes with maturation and with the sacrifice of childhood, it is necessary to get a real identity. And the time of union puts an end to the efforts of retarding powers with the hot iron shoes. The queen dies as dancing for celebrating the rhythmic cycle of life and death. All in all, Snow white is a story that explains the nature of creation, how something new comes into being through the repetition of same cycle of transformation which is necessary in a traditional society.
The story of Cinderella is a European folk tale which published in 1812 by Grimm Brothers as the 21st story in their collection of Folk tales known as Children’s and Household Tales. It was also published by Charles Perrault in 1697. The Grimm version of the story is a dark version because it doesn’t include a fairy mother, pumpkin that turns into a carriage, animals that turns into henchmen. In Grimm version there is a Grant tree and talking pigeons. There is forgiveness in Perrault’s story for stepsisters but Grimm version there is a punishment for sisters in which stepsisters are blinded by pigeons. It is a story about an orphaned girl and it focusses on her rising into higher status and redeeming with happiness through hard work, suffer and marriage. Then again, the story gives us the patriarchal perspective of marriage and its importance by showing a poor girl’s struggling for rising into power and changing her status within this hierarchical society. The story can be interpreted from so many perspectives such as sociological, Freudian, feminism. But its theme is simple, young women can be saved by wealthy men.
The golden slipper in the story stands there as a symbol of perfectness or perfect life. The story narrates the recovery process of a poor girl’s after an early wound such as loss of her mother. It is a process of person’s redeem and reaching happiness through hard working. Therefor the story represents a person’s search for identity and self-esteem. The tale opens with an initial situation and the narration of characters as usual but then suddenly a member of the family leaves the family as it happened in the case of mother. Interdiction also comes in this moment, the mother tells her daughter right before her death, remain pious and good only then our dear god will protect you. After a time later, her ignorant father marries again and evil stepmother and stepsisters appears as villain to start their devilish deeds. She loses her social status and starts to live her life as a maid in the kitchen. Throughout the story she keeps her dignity against to all evil deeds of the sisters and as a result her donor appears in the form of pigeons and grant tree. The donor offers her dreams to her and also through these it tries to test her. Eventually she passes all her tests by remaining pious and takes care of the wicked step family. As a result, her foot fits to slippery shoe as an embodiment of perfectness.
The story ends with a happy ending. There are different explanations of the story. We can think the slippery as the woman and we can think the foot as the man and their union as the perfect union of man and woman. From this point of view, story is about a woman’s search for sexual fulfillment. We can also look at it with a sociological perspective. Then we can say, it is about a woman’s struggle for rising into power within a patriarchal society through marriage. Prince choses Cinderella because her foots are tiny while sisters not. Her foots are tiny because she is coming from an upper class unlike them, but she loses her social status. In the end of the story, she manages to replace her social status through marriage and redeems with life. It is also a good role model for feminism for showing how young girls and women should not be.
Cinderella is a kind, pious and passive girl. She can’t make stand for herself. She is waiting a prince for herself to rescue her from the misery and all of her actions are against to feminist ideas. Modern woman is expected to be more assertive in order to survive in the world but she can’t. Instead of that she is acting more pious by thinking that her dignity will save her. And this situation is giving us a sociological insight about the feudal European society.
Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was a German Romantic writer, critic, musician and composer who opened his eyes to earth in 1776. He was famous with his works of horror and fantasy fiction. He is the author of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which famous The Nutcracker ballet based. In 1816, he composed one of his fantastic, horror stories which known as “The Sandman” and published it in 1817 within short story collection, known as “The Night Pieces”. The sandman is story about a childhood trauma that in the form of letters. It starts a bizarre and horrifying childhood story about a creature known as Sandman. The first letter is from Nathanael to Lothar. According to Nathanael, The sandman is a creature of night who is visiting unsleeping children and bleeding them with his sands to steal their eyes for feeding his own children on the moon. Scary isn’t it? This story becomes an obsession for him. And one night he plans to spy it and hides himself to his father’s room. In there he sees Coppelius, a lawyer and one of his father’s associates and he catches him and desires to burn his eyes. But his father stands against for him. Nathanael becomes ill and his father dies after a while in an experiment while working with Coppelius. The Coppelius disappears. Nathanael becomes a student and meets with an optician known as Coppola and buys a Spy-glass from him.
Through this spy-glass he sees Olympia, an automaton created by Spalanzani and Coppola. And he loves this automaton unreasonably. But two men falls into an argument and Coppolla takes the eyes of automaton and throws them to Nathanael. This event reminds Nathanael the argument between his father and Coppelius. And Nathanael falls into a state of sanity. After recovering his mind, he goes directly to Clara to marry with her. While spending time with her, he suddenly sees Coppelius and goes insane. He tries to kill clara, but her brother saves him. Unfortunately he jumps off from the tower and dies. The uncanny is a concept in human psychology that means something extraordinary familiar and not familiar at the same time. Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who wrote about this concept in his The Uncanny and published it in 1919. He tried to analyze this concept by using Hoffmann’s The Sandman because of its extraordinary content. According the Freud, the uncanny is the mark of the returning repressed memory. For Freud, the reason of the uncanny in this story is the fear of losing eyes.
He associates the idea of losing eyes with the fear of castration and he suggests the story of Oedipus as his example. He argued that the most appropriate punishment of Oedipus’ crimes was the castration yet this showed on the stage in the form of losing eyes. Coppelius is Nathanael’s hatred against of his father for his castration and he interferes his all relationships which he both loves and hates. After this bad experience, he represses all his bad memories and forgets what happened in the past. With the reanimation of first shocking scene (losing of one’s eyes) in the second scene, he once again remembers everything but also loses his mind. This is the uncanny of the story which reminds his past. Coppola and Spalanzini are nothing but the representation of his father’s sides and Olympia which they made together is the personification of Nathaniel’s feminine attitude towards his father in his infancy.
It is his doppelganger. That is why Nathaniel confronts Olympia as a person and loves it with a narcissistic kind of senseless love. It is a natural situation which he created after his castration because of being unable to love. As a result, he realizes this truth with the reappearance of Coppelius once again while looking through the spy-glass. Looking through the glass is a kind of rationalization process. Nathaniel tries to explain all these events with the imagination until his usage of glass. And in each time when he use it, he loses his mind because of confronting with the sober truth.