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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Uses of Enchantment: The famous child psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim, explains how fairy tales educate, support, and liberate the emotions of children.
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Nov 27, Trevor rated it it was amazing Shelves: And given this was published in it seems much too Freudian than it ought to have been too. There were times when I would have been sure it was written in the s.
Now, saying this is a Freudian analysis of fairy tales might be enough to put some people off. And that would be a real pity. All the same, it would be hard to not feel confronted by some of these interpretations and readings. The short version of what this book is about is that fairy tales are a very particular genre.
There is very little ambiguity to them — at least, not on the surface. Bad people are BAD. Good people are GOOD. There are no shades of grey. Good people need to be rewarded, bad people need to be punished. People are kings and queens or dirt poor. The author says this is incredibly important as it allows children to know the world depicted is not real and so is a safe place for them to engage their wish-fulfilment — in all its excess and sometimes in all its horror. The problem here is that the moral of the story ought to be left a bit unclear because the same story can mean very different things to the same child at different times while growing up.
Although, after reading this book, I suspect that one of the major audiences for fairy tales really ought to be adults.
So, what does a Freudian analysis of a fairy tale look like? In fact, unlike in the real world, no penis is ever going to be insignificant.
This really was a very impressive book, but there were more than enough penises, repressed Oedipal complexes and castration fears to make a couple of dozen Woody Allen films.
One of the things I really believe is that love is about acceptance of someone else, acceptance of them FOR their scars, not despite them. And that is why love is quite rare, if not, in fact, depressingly rare.
It grows into a great beettelheim. But the father marries again and Cinderella is confronted with a step-mother and two siblings.
One that sets impossible tasks and then banishes the young girl to lie in the dirt and in the filth. But this is also a story of sibling rivalry; the ugly dj that have ultimate power over Cinderella and who she must degrade herself before. Such is the jealousy of mother to a daughter seeking to take her place. And such are the obligations of growing up bettelhekm that what can seem like insurmountable difficulties need to be overcome and what is a horrible refusal of parental care and love is actually motivation for growth out of childhood.
He reminds us that Cinderella is a story of Chinese origin — hence the small feet as a sign of elegance. But even if this was not the case, as he makes clear, men are big in fairy tales it is one of the oppositions set up and so the smaller a woman the more feminine she will appear to be.
In the Brothers Grimm version of the story the ugly sisters moneo told by their mother to cut off either their toe or their heal to get their foot to fit into the glass slipper.
He brings the sisters home again and finally Cinderella gets to slide her foot straight into the shoe without effort; a perfect fit. Now, this is the bit I never realised before. The shoe is a metaphor for a vagina. The author here says that the Prince is revolted by the blood from the ugly sisters because it makes the sexual allusions all too clear, and like Cinderella, this is a rite of passage for him too towards being prepared for sexual love.
The point being that it is important that the Prince finds her at home — and covered in filth.
The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
Here is the reassurance for the child who believes they are beneath contempt and undeserving of love — that someone will love them despite it all. To which the obvious answer is: In fact, more needs to be read into this story. We humans are in constant danger of believing that we are monsters.
We have nightmares and we catch ourselves desiring what we can barely bring ourselves to admit to. Fairy tales allow us to know that these are not signs of mental bruho, but are a universal part of the human condition. We are not alone in our nightmares or in our desires.
They do not make us evil or wicked or loathsome.
Bruno Bettelheim (Author of The Uses of Enchantment)
They make us human. Tootle liked to play with flowers, but it was very important that he been kept on the right track could a metaphor bfttelheim more laboured? A kind of aversion therapy. And finally it work a treat and Tootle grew to be a big train and never again wanted to play among the flowers.
Something that seems increasingly sad the more you think about it Hard to do a Freudian reading of a story like that — which is part of the problem, because it is also hard to see how a story like that might help someone with the deep psychological challenges that growing up inevitably involves. Hard not to admit that if you have siblings there were times you might have wished them dead, particularly when they seemed to be favoured over you — even if you immediately rejected this wish.
But fairy tales are a safe place where such guilty secrets can by played with and learnt from. Tootle leaves no room to play — it is a telling, not a showing. Not because of the castration myths or even that Little Red Riding Hood is really about a young girl exploring the dangerous side of her sexuality. If that is the case then fairy tales are always relevant to us, no matter what our age. Bauman talks about this fairy tale in Moral Blindness — how the lesson of the story is that everyone needs somewhere to be able to hide their deepest secrets and that being prepared to accept that people — even people you love very much — should be allowed room to conceal some things from you is actually an act of true love.
Our whole society rejects this, of course. Love is utter acceptance and so there can be no secrets between lovers. And although this seems to contradict what I said before about love being about acceptance of all of our scars — well, this is about love and growing and coming to understand ourselves — who said anything about consistency or making sense?
You can go on and live happily ever after now. View all 31 comments. Dec 16, Fran rated it it was amazing Shelves: I absolutely love this book. Of lately–few past decades–fairy tales have gotten a bad reputation, often cited as examples of horrible role models for girls and boys. However, it seems we–modern us–are in part responsible for turning fairy tales into those kind of stories because they weren’t like that originally.
In this book Bettelheim explores how deeply significant these seemingly out-of-touch with the present world stories are for children’s development. One of the things we need to unders I absolutely love this book. One of the things we need to understand, he says, is that in their original form, before being twisted into “clean” stories by Disney, fairy tales help children face their earliest and darkest of fears. The loss of a parent, the transfer of affection from the inner familiar circle to outside friends, the uncertainty of what awaits in the future for us.
I have a whole new sense of how fairy tales work and why they have survived through history after reading this book, and if you feel like discovering a whole new level into the complexity of these well-worn and told stories I recommend you to read this book. View all 3 comments.
Sep 13, Nandakishore Varma rated it it was amazing Shelves: This was the first book which assured me that my enduring interest in fairy tales was scholarly and not something to be scoffed at as juvenile. Until then, I have been blissfully unaware of the psychological depth of fairy tales and how a lot of major literary works are inspired by them. Now there are fairy tale studies by the dozen, and many are fascinating: I have read that, in This was the first book which assured me that my enduring interest in fairy tales was scholarly and not something to be scoffed at as juvenile.
I have read that, in the years since this book’s publication, Bettelheim’s analysis has been questioned. However, if you are new to the field of fairy tale studies, this may be the place to start. It is compulsively readable. View all 4 comments.
Dec 14, Manybooks rated it did not like it Shelves: Well, to be entirely fair, I did feel pretty strange and uncomfortable mostly the first time I read The Uses of Enchantment for that course I was taking, and now, more than thirty years after that university level perusal, I no longer really feel all that massively uncomfortable, I just feel as though Bruno Bettelheim is a bit over-the-top with his Freudian fairy tale analyses and I can at least partially enjoy and also find some rather perverse humour in just how sexually charged the author seems to consider many if not most fairy tales to be and in their entirety in other words, I find the author’s one-sidedness of interpretation rather hilarious and yes also a bit sad, as The Uses of Enchantment really does not seem to show much if any possibility that there are different manners of interpretation possible and probable, that everything is somehow psychologically based on sex and on Freud’s attitudes towards sex.
Now if I were just ranking The Uses of Enchantment for its text and only for its text, I would most probably be rating it with a low three stars readable but with some definite potential issues and problems. However, after Bruno Bettelheim’s death init has been suggested and also now been pretty much proven without a doubt that he callously plagiarised from colleagues and that even many of his supposed academic credentials were in fact at best misrepresented and fudged a bit.
Now plagiarism is often a problematic accusation in and of itself, as sometimes and even often an author can be accused of academic dishonesty when he or she has in fact not actively copied another person’s work at all and sometimes, plagiarism is used as a weapon when really, all that happened was that a few quotation marks or footnotes have ended up being forgotten.
However, this does not unfortunately appear to have been the case with Bruno Bettelheim, as in his The Uses of Enchantment he almost verbatim uses entire passages from especially Julius E.