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Some of us may have grown up with the Disney version of fairytales, sugar coated versions of older, more visceral tales handed down from generation to generation. Folk tales tinged with the memories of ancient stories interwoven with experiences of the harsh reality of life. There deeply ingrained within the national psyche of countries around the globe, in particular the stories of the Brothers Grimm have become a part of our popular culture. The Brothers collected and revised an enormous number of oral and written narratives covering a breadth of folklore traditions. Many of these have been cannibalised by Disney and Hollywood as we are all aware, and transformed into either sickly sweet concoctions or vehicles dripping in blood. Admit it, wouldn’t you prefer a few sleepless nights due to nightmares rather than drowning in saccharine?

5. Rapunzel

Rapunzel is the result of a magical pregnancy due to her mother eating rapunzel lettuce from a sorceress’s garden. The child is demanded as payment by the sorceress and whisked away to a lonely tower in a remote forest at the age of 12. Her only company is the old woman until the fateful day years later a handsome prince comes by and ends up knowing her in the biblical sense. Their trysts do not remain a secret and results in Rapunzel losing her glorious hair and the prince trying to commit suicide, becoming blind and the pregnant woman being banished into the ends of the earth. The prince finds her eventually, a mother of twins, miraculously recovering his sight. They live happily ever after. What do we have here? Child trafficking, abuse, teenage pregnancy.

4. Cinderella

The familiar tale of bereavement and difficult relations with new stepfamily. Cinderella’s mother dies and her father remarries but life turns out to be very difficult for her. Relegated to the position of a servant she leads a terrible life, everything taken away from her including her father by her stepmother and stepsisters. The local prince announces his matrimonial intentions and precipitates frenzy amongst the singletons in the kingdom. Of course Cinderella will not have any part in this affair and her stepmother sees to that but it seems nature has other ideas. Instead of the pumpkin and a fairy godmother we have her dead mother’s spirit and doves helping out. The glass slipper becomes an instrument of torture as the stepsisters mutilate their feet to get into the shoes and eventually have their eyes pecked out by doves. It seems justice is brutally served. Malice abounds in the tale, as does a lingering sense of loss, apathy and brutality. The family are obvious candidates for therapy.

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