A couple of days back my phone completely conked on me so I had to give it to the service center at the mall to get it upgraded. I had time to kill and nothing much to do for another15 minutes. So but naturally, my feet found their way to the bookstore right opposite the service store.
I wandered past the classics and the fiction, and I came to a section I generally don’t pay much attention to, the children’s section. I happened to glance at a bunch of fairytale books on a shelf and this greatly excited me, so I hunted down the store for the Ladybird books that I used to read, and there was, thank heavens!, a row of beautiful (new editions, but oh well!) lady bird fairytale selections.
I read through the book in a few minutes and then began to wonder, why does this fairytale even exist? I read of the Danish author behind the book and made it a point to look him up sooner than later when opportunity presented itself. I was to know that unlike many tales this did not have any historical/political influence. Then why, I began to wonder, are children told this dreadful tale with an absolutely moral-less moral?!?!
So, the ‘ugly’ duckling turned into a ‘beautiful’ swan, it went through great hardships and was mocked and shunned by absolutely everyone in this universe until it went away on its own for some time, hid and sulked doing absolutely nothing but and finally returned, ‘beautiful’, just like the swans it admired before.
I mean really!
I know not all fairy tales are meant to come with morals, but how can one tell their children such a cold, harsh, WRONG portrayal of life?!
What is it even supposed to mean? That ‘ugly’ children will grow up to be beautiful? That over time people will morph into a swan no matter how they may be today? Or perhaps it was a metaphor for hardships making you a ‘beautiful person’? Of there being a ‘trial period’, a ‘reason for tough times’? I am not sure what little children are supposed to carry back from this story.
And if a 21 year old gets confused messages, I am pretty sure that no 2 year old will be any the wiser! I don’t know what this author wanted to tell the world, but my children will never ever hear of this daunted, flawed, dark tale of a duckling.