Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mother love...and hate

A friend the other day told me of a story that is apparantly found in many cultures (I believe her source was Ravi Zacharias, but I don't know anything more specific than that.)

There was a young man who fell in love with a beautiful woman. He wanted to marry her, but she gave him a horrible condition: to prove his love for her, he must bring her his mother's heart.

The young man was tormented by this request. He loved his mother, but also was enchanted by this beautiful young woman and desired her hand in marriage. Eventually he decided to kill his mother and ran through the forest, carrying her heart to his beloved. The sun was almost down, and he tripped, the heart flying. Panicked, he looked frantically for the heart, knowing he had to find it before dark. He finally did, and on picking up the heart, it said, "Son, are you hurt? Are you all right?"

My friend's telling of the story ended there, I don't know if it goes on. The point of the story is clearly the bond of mother love, despite abuse she suffers from her children. This story struck me as being a direct contrast to tales such as Snow White, for two reasons:

1. In Snow White, the mother orders her daughter's heart (or other body parts, depending on version) to be cut out, from jealousy. (Yes, it was originally a mother and not stepmother). Here it's the daughter figure asking the same request in a generation reversal, but we can only suppose it's for the same reason.
Disney will market anything, even the infamous heart box-but calling it an heirloom box will ease any apprehensions, right?

2. Fairy tales are well-known for their very strained same-sex familial relationships. Mothers and daughters nearly always hate each other, same with sisters. So mother love apparantly only applies to sons but not to daughters. I'm trying to think of horrible mother-son relationships and can only think of Juniper Tree. But then there are mothers that are equally horrible to children of both sexes, such as the mother in Hansel and Gretel. So while it is refreshing to see a tale that shows a mother that loves and even extravagantly forgives, it still promotes the idea that mothers and daughters can never be friends. Thank you Snow White and Rose Red for being the rarity...

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