Monday, September 12, 2011

More on Dickens and the Fairy Tale

I found some more on Dickens' use of the fairy tale:

"Dickens himself tended to incorporate fairy-tale motifs and plots primarily in his novels and particularly in his Christmas Books (1843-5). It is almost as though he did not want to tarnish the childlike innocence of the tales that he read as a young boy-tales which incidentally filled him with hope during his difficult childhood-by replacing them with new ones. But Dickens did use the fairy tale to make political and social statements, as in Prince Bull (1855) and The Thousand and One Humbugs (1855), and his regressive longings for the innocent bliss of fairyland are mad most evident in his essay A Christmas Tree (1850)...

"What was to be was Dickens' adult quest for fairy bliss in his novels, and it is not by chance that one of the last works he wrote toward the end of his life was "The Magic Fishbone" (1868)...Here Dickens parodied a helpless king as a salaried worker, who is accustomed to understanding everything with his reason. He becomes totally confused by the actions of his daughter Alicia, who receives a magic fishbone from a strange and brazen fairy named Grandmarina. Alicia does not use the fishbone when one would expect her to. Only when the king reveals to her that he can no longer provide for the family does Alicia make use of the magic fishbone. Suddenly Grandmarina arrives to bring about a comical ending in which the most preposterous changes occur. Nothing can be grasped through logic, and this is exactly Dickens' point: his droll tale-narrated from the viewpoint of a child-depends on the unusual deployment of fairy-tale motifs to question the conventional standards of society and to demonstrate that there is strength and soundness in the creativity of the younhg. The patriarchal figure of authority is at a loss to rule and provide, and the reversal of circumstances points to a need for change in social relations. The realm of genuine happiness that is glimpsed at the end of Dickens' fairy tale is a wish-fulfillment that he himself shared with many Victorians who were dissatisfied with social conditions in English society."

-Jack Zipes, from his introduction to Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves

No comments:

Post a Comment