Saturday, February 25, 2012

Grasping at strands of a Beast's mane- comparing Cupid and Psyche to La Belle et la Bête

So this week we’re supposed to compare the old Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche found at with a version of the fairy tale (although that definition might not apply here due to this version's structure) Beauty and the Beast that we’ve read. I’d like to compare it to Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont’s La Belle et la Bête from 1756. Be prepared for an overwhelming usage of the word “both.”

Cupid and Psyche, the ones with super young Cupid were really freaking me out

It was really hard to pick, so I used two Beauty in the Beast images, oh well...
Our beauties are subject to major misfortunes; Beauty must deal with her father losing his fortune and Psyche must deal with the mortals calling her lovelier than Venus, which sends the vengeful goddess into an absolute fit and cursing Psyche so that no mortal will ever love her, because she’s nice like that. Both ladies go to their respective beasts “willingly” and end up at giant beautiful palaces far from any semblance of civilization (so nobody can hear their screams…except not really). They both also require magical aid, such as the sleep transport and the winds of Zephyr, to make it to their abodes. Once they are there both beauties are treated to magic that can fulfill their every desire, however they cannot see their beasts often. Beauty gets to see hers at a certain time, and therefore does not have the curiosity of what he looks like. Psyche only knows of her new husband’s voice and that he wants only love, well unless you count her having seen Cupid when he was cursing her and she had him wound himself with his own arrow. They are married based on someone else’s wishes.  Beauty’s beast is cursed, unlike Cupid. In fact the person who is cursed in Cupid and Psyche is Psyche. Also, Psyche’s “beast?” he’s never a beast… 

In both stories the sisters play important roles, although awful sisters seem to be a common piece of fairy tales... Beauty and Psyche both have three sisters, Beauty even has brothers. The sisters in both stories are less beautiful than their youngest sister and are far more involved in the world around them. They get their own husbands, but become jealous of the beauties and try to get the riches for their selves, eventually causing their downfall through a fall to their deaths (Cupid and Psyche) or an eternity spent living as a statue unless they can change their attitudes (La Belle et la Bête). The sisters cause both beauties to almost ruin their relationships; Beauty through getting her to stay and almost kill the Beast and Psyche by convincing her to try and kill her beast. In doing so both beauties injure their loved ones; Beauty by the Beast’s starvation and Psyche through dripping hot candle wax. They have to redeem their love by going on their own “searches” as the AT system would describe, although Psyche traveling to so many places would definitely be considered a quest in my eyes. The fact that Psyche must actually go on a quest is due to her foolish curiosity, something that Beauty does not have.  In that way I don’t really feel bad for Psyche like I do for Beauty. Psyche could have asked Cupid to see her and try to get him to be more of a companion, like Beauty looked forward to her 9 o’clock dinners with Beast. Both beasts have magic to help their ladies return to them, and at the end the ladies end up with their respective beautiful husbands, Belle’s Beast having gone through a transformation thanks to the same fairy that cursed him. Hooray, we have happy endings, and that seems to be a fitting way to end this post. You all can read happily ever after now that this blog post is over, transformed like those from the story. I know I'm certainly happy because it's 2 AM and I'm finally done this because I have no time to do it tomorrow.
As a side note: does anyone remember that show Beauty and the Geek produced by Ashton Kutcher? I do, and they definitely gave the geeks makeovers so they could transform as well, although some of them were still jerks and lacked virtues unlike the wonderful Beast. Anyway yea, just wondering if you guys remembered because it's what I've been continously thinking of while reading these.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wolves and lingerie?

So for this week’s blog we had to pick a cartoon based on Little Red Riding Hood and analyze it. Before I do this however, I’d like to share a music video by Julieta Venegas that uses the story of LRRH to get its point across that she does not always like who you can be, but she wouldn’t change you. It’s called Limón y sal:

Ok, so to finally get to the cartoons, I have found four that reflect the same idea, and want to know why everyone is so curious about this subject, although I suppose it makes sense:
So… the wolf as a transvestite, ok, I guess he is in a way… This cartoon asks a perfectly reasonable question and shows that society is preoccupied with how people choose to live their lives and that kids are being exposed to things at a younger age. This might not be such a bad thing as long as they are taught to be kind and understanding instead of being taught to hate and fear. After all, we do not want our children to end up like this: Bucella, Marty
 Therapists are supposed to be helpful, not cast more doubt upon you. If he were going to be a better therapist then he probably would have been more like this guy simply listening to an apparently liberated wolf: Reynalds, Dan
Personally I found that one to be hilarious due to the choice of apparel. It’s also interesting to see his personal sense of fashion after the “one foot in the door” exploration from Granny. Although the issue of the wolf as being a transvestite is brought up in this cartoon, it is being mocked; spikeys_studio
The wolf is given the label of transvestite, hey; maybe he put on her clothes just for that reason! Little Red has to have that explained to her. I wish I could see the other half or results in some of these cartoons.  It is fascinating to see people use the story of Little Red Riding Hood to make a comment about society, especially in a way that does not involve Little Red.
All in all, it’s strange to see such a large fascination with the wolf as a transvestite, but perhaps it can be used for good? I sure hope so! Either way, the cartoons certainly made me giggle!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Psychoanalysis reads fairy tales to psychology

Before I get into this week’s blog post I would like to make something clear: psychoanalysis is like the grandfather of psychology that tells psychology fairy tales at bedtime. Psychology is now a growing science that has operational definitions, the scientific method, and other components. Psychoanalysis is still there, however it does not include the same standards as many other branches of psychology.

And now that we’ve cleared that up…

Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior of organisms. As it includes the study of the mind people have found it useful to analyze fairy tales through the lens of psychoanalysis or with the psychodynamic theory. This is a resurging of the ideas made popular by Freud and Jung. As far as Freud goes, his theories of the different developmental stages have been applied best, although either way they still seem farfetched. What problem could anyone find with saying all of the food-deprived animals and people are just gluttons? Another explanation would actually be that they are overeating to compensate for not knowing when they’re next meal will come from or how much it will be which causes an increase in the behavior, in this case: eating. Jung’s ideas make a bit more sense when it comes to analyzing fairy tales. His archetypes based on the universal collective unconscious passed on by everyone and expressed in fairy tales are used to represent the basic elements of fairy tales such as the “wise old man” or the “mother tree.” Jung also saw fairy tales as a basic way for people to transform and grow, much like many characters in fairy tales do, by reading them and projecting their self onto the characters. This is a way for people to deal with repressed memories stored in the unconscious part of their psyche. So fairy tales have been used in psychotherapy by allowing people to grow and get past things that may have been causing major problems of which they may not have known the cause. Psychoanalysis and fairy tales build off one another in both their creation and use.

Most of this was included in a fairly interesting lecture by Dr. Mazerof at McDaniel College which included psychodynamic theory from Freud and Jung as well as theories of fairy tales by Campbell. Dr. Mazerof also included a section on a typical hero’s journey from birth to rebirth and end. Overall I still have yet to find an explanation for psychoanalysis that does not make me question its validity, but that is just the scientific part of me. The creative side finds it to be interesting and perhaps helpful sometimes, although I generally agree that one can easily identify with a character in a story and relate that to his or her own life. As long as it is recognized that psychology and psychoanalysis are related but are ultimately different, I will be able to think outside of the scientific box more easily.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

From spoken words to written ones: The transformation of the fairy tale

What constitutes a fairy tale? There are many options, but the basic idea is that they have a few necessities and after that they are adaptable. The main ingredient is magic. Magic helps the characters in their quests, removing the fear or other emotions that most humans would feel. Magic also allows incredible things to happen and for an escape into a different world. They are full of fantasy creatures that are perceived as being real as well. These magical realms and what happens in them are accepted by the readers and then used.
 Fairy tales are almost blank slates which can be molded to fit the culture or the time. Many fairy tales were even originally used to shape their readers and to provide morals or other levels of civilité. They are meant to be adaptable while retaining their original motifs, which have been classified by Aarne and Thompson. This is one of the reasons why there are so many variations. Who has not read or seen multiple adaptations of the same tale? Their ability to be modified also allows for fairy tales to be easily used by their readers. The blank slate of the tale allows for the reader to insert his or her self into the story and to possibly overcome some emotional hardships. It is through this process that fairy tales can be individually appreciated by anyone, no matter what their age.

Regardless of their exact definition or their audience, fairy tales are loved by most and will continue to be enjoyed and used until...