A brief thought on the forest in fairytales


The forest isn’t just the place of unknown things and of terrors and shadows where witches dwell and wolves and fairies lurk. It is also a proving ground where a person be they prince or humble farmer, golden-haired maiden or lost siblings are reduced to their bare essence. Unlike the  civilized world of family and hearth which is often a more dangerous place  in their deceits than is the forest where the hero is redefined in terms of prey for the typical child predators of fairytale. Because they are no longer bound to civilization the hero is able to turn the tables on the foe in a way they were unable to do at home. Hansel and Gretel could be  left with little chance or ability to defend themselves from their own family but once they are cast out they are free to face up to their fullest potential. The witch who would have devoured the siblings was thrown literally into the oven but it was also symbolically the sibling’s evil mother and placid father being punished. Only in the forest!

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