Discuss the purpose of fairy tales for a contemporary audience. Do they hold as much value for present audiences as in the past?.
It is impossible to discuss the purpose of fairy tales for a contemporary audience and even more so to discuss their relative value for present audiences in comparison to audiences in the past without looking at a definition and history of the genre. Even then, though it may be possible to demonstrate different purposes it will still be difficult (impossible?) to make a quantitative comparison of relative values. .
The Lord of the Rings, a fifty year old fairy tale trilogy that was originally composed for the enjoyment of the author's children and then went on to become one of the most widely acclaimed writings, is now experiencing large scale success as a series of films. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author, understands a fairy tale to be:.
one which touches on or uses Faërie, whatever its own main purpose may be: satire, adventure, morality, fantasy. Faërie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic - but it is magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific, magician. There is one proviso: if there is any satire present in the tale, one thing must not be made fun of, the magic itself. That must in that story be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away. .
Marcia Lane, a student of fairy tales and the author of Picturing a Rose: A Way of Looking at Fairy Tales, believes a fairy tale to be,.
a story - literary or folk - that has a sense of the numinous, the feeling or sensation of the supernatural or the mysterious. But, and this is crucial, it is a story that happens in the past tense, and a story that is not tied to any specifics . Fairy tales are sometimes spiritual but never religious. .
Together these two understandings make up a relatively sound definition of fairy tales.