Violence and Fear in Folktales

David Boudinot


The use of fear and violence in folk and fairy tales is a contentious issue which illuminates disparities of societal difference between those firmly entrenched in beliefs of righteousness and others who believe no harm is done by frightening children with folklore. Some people believe that children need to be shielded from all displays of violence, especially violence found in video games, television, and folk tales, because children might emulate it and bring harm to themselves or others. However, this essay argues that such violence and attendant fears are social constructions, learned responses. Folk and fairy tales, legends of the literary tradition, are more likely to be balanced and wholesome in their outcomes, and can teach our children how to deal with such social fears and violence.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680