Our study of fairtales, took us to many places and exposed us to new learning almost daily. However, our study of the Brothers Grimm was the most stimulating, in regard to authors. Our travels in Germany included journeys to homes, towns, and museums that highlighted the lives of the two brothers.
Jacob and Wilhelm spent most of their lives in Germany. Both were lawyers by trade, and later become professors, who lost their jobs due to their ethical stances. Nevertheless, they were ambitious and turned their focus to writing children stories and other literacy works. The process to create their stories were very intentional. They collected oral and written narratives, and adapted them to create the “grimm genre”, which made stories more appropriate for mothers to read to their children. The bourgeois audience, which the brothers targeted, believe that childhood was a time of freedom and safety. Therefore, in several cases, the wicked woman in the story became the evil stepmother.
The Grimm brothers fairytales also had a heavy emphasis around meanings, including tales of fortune or warnings to the audience. In their stories, the fortune often awaits the hero, such as a marriage the that brings a new social class, as in Cinderella. The warnings taught children about consequences of actions, such as not listening to your parents or talking to strangers like in Little Red Riding Hood.
Additionally, the brothers wanted to “redeem imagination” against the rationalities of modern life by using little, fantastical creatures, such as dwarfs and talking animals. Our conclusions is that like us, the brothers wanted children to think beyond their realities and dream big.
As we reflected on our study of the brothers, we became more committed to continue their charge of teaching students about life through stories and encouraging them to think beyond their current realities. In addition, we will share the brothers story of perseverance, in hopes of reinforcing the idea that greatness is often achieved through overcoming adversity.
In our opinion, the future of our community lies in our students’ abilities to become leaders, who use their imagination to solve problems and create new opportunities. We have a new level of respect for these brothers. Until next time.
Primary Sources: GRIMMWELT Museum Kassel and Bruder Grimm-Hans Steinu Museum