Classic fairy tales usually involve a plucky young child taking on something dark and dangerous that represents the unknown and coming out on top. Those tales have been told, retold, and ultimately sanitized over the generations. When you go back to the source, however, a disturbing pattern emerges. While the horrors they face are immense, the fairy tale protagonists turn into horrifying monsters themselves when the tale reaches its conclusion and they embark upon the most satisfying part of their journey: revenge.
These 9 Fairy Tales are Darker Than You Think
Certain fairy tales have become so burned into our popular culture that it seems like kids are born already knowing how they end. However, relatively few people know how some of our most popular children’s stories actually go. They’ve been passed down through a generational game of Telephone, sometimes becoming unrecognizable from where they began.
This gets even truer when a fairy tale becomes a Disney movie. Not only do Disney and other animation studios make an effort to strip away some of the more controversial or grisly details of their source material, but they also try to turn the characters into something they can brand and market.
Whether this is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder. Many parents would reasonably avoid a Snow Whiteadaptation with a grisly murder at the end. On the other hand, I’d like to see a version of The Jungle Book where Kaa is Mowgli’s ally like he is in the book.
Not all these changes involve stripping out dark, grisly parts for the sake of the children. Some of them come out of the needs of the media it’s being adapted to. For example, when Cinderella gets her happy ending, we don’t need to revisit her stepsisters. A happy, peaceful wedding makes for a smoother conclusion.
Here are some of the best-known fairy tales that we tell our children and where they came from. You can decide for yourself whether the changes that got made were good or not.