Moral Purpose and Cultural Significance in Fables, Fairytales, Myths and Legends.
Ambrosia J. Rappley
May 21st, 2018.
Moral Purpose and Cultural Significance in Fables, Fairytales, Myths and Legends
Fairytales, fables, myths and legends have been around for centuries. Conveniently used for entertainment aspirations, these stories often contain a moral purpose. Such as teaching characteristic traits to children and the encouragement of certain behaviors. Geared mainly towards younger generations, these morals enticed readers; offering a sense of reality and valuable injunctions.
Fables and Fairytales
“Beauty and The Beast,” by Jeanne-Marie Le Price de Beaumont offers a significant moral in looking beyond only what the eyes can see. In this version of the story Belle’s family initially started out as wealthy individuals. Her sisters were extremely impertinent and showed discourteous manors towards individuals who weren’t as fortunate as their own family. Unfortunately, losing their fortune lead to their father stealing from the castle of the Beast. Caught by the Beast, the father’s life was spared in return for one of his daughters. When the news had been disclosed, Belle had agreed to take the place of her father. Though fearful of the Beast, she contently keeps her word. During the time in the palace, she was numerously asked for her hand in marriage by the frightful Beast, in which she declines, excessively. Wanting to grant her happiness, the Beast allows Belle to return home to her father for a brief time. Upon Belle’s return, she found the Beast in the canal within’ the garden. Discovering his heart slowly beating, she fetched water from the canal and poured it upon his head. Confessing her love to the Beast had broken the curse and before her stood a handsome price. For this she was rewarded, “you have preferred virtue before either wit or beauty and deserve to find a person in whom all these qualifications are united: you are going to be a great Queen” (Leprince de Beaumont, 1740,). Though the Beast had looked intimidating and fearful, once Belle had taken the time to get to know him, it was clear that his rough exterior was just a facade. The Beast had truly been kind and gentle, leading Belle to fall in love with what was beyond his appearance
“The Fox without a Tail,” an animal fable by Aesop's Fables is another prominent narrative, teaching the moral purpose that misery loves company; it’s paramount to avoid those with self-interest. A fox had caught his beautiful tail in a trap, among the struggle to release it he’d lost all it accept the stump. Embarrassed by the non-existence of his beautiful tail he’d hid away due to his misfortune. Overcome by his loneliness, he’d taken a bold stance, putting on a brace face; he’d summoned all the foxes for a general meeting to consider a proposition. The fox had stated how inconvenient a tail was to their kind, concluding it caused danger among their enemies and had suggested that like himself, they dispose of their tails. "That is all very well," said one of the older foxes; "but I do not think you would have recommended us to dispense with our chief ornament if you had not happened to lose it yourself " (Aesop's Fables, 1992). The moral is suggesting that individuals who are miserable can bear their plight better if those around them are miserable too, leading to the idea that self-centered individuals seek to avoid harm and gain gratification.
Myths and Legends
“The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood: Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne,” by Howard Pyle is
a legend that’s been told since 1883. Guy of Gisbourne was a crude, coarse outlaw, known for his cruelty and murderous habits; initially hired to kill Robin Hood. According to legend, Robin Hood was highly skilled in archery and swordsmanship, outwitting his opponent. “Why truly, some folk do call him a great archer,” (Pyle, 1883). Legends often retain the value of a community, such as Robin Hood and his group of Merry Men; helping their people and defending them in a time of need. Famously known for stealing from the rich and providing for the poor.
A myth is a story pertaining to famous Gods and the creation of the beginning of the world, among religious accounts. Much like the story, “The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy,” by Padraic Colum. The Odyssey is the story of the homecoming of a great Greek hero at Troy, Odysseus. Odysseus was famous for his ability to deceive and trick, contrary to other Greek heroes for their great strength or bravery. Odysseus had the Greek army build what came to be known as the Trojan Horse; a giant hollow horse filled inside with the best Greek warriors. During the attack upon the city, the Greek army desecrated the sacred temples of the Gods. This had enraged the Gods, leading to a fierce storm; delaying Odysseus and his men’s homecoming for ten years. This caused many adventures at sea, leading the warriors to the city of Ciccone’s, the land of the Lotus Eaters, and Polyphemus the Cyclops. Attacking his men, Odysseus devised a plan to provide Polyphemus with wine, leaving him drunk and vulnerable. Making it safely back to their ship, Odysseus shouted to the Cyclops, “you thought that you had the company of a fool and a weakling to eat. But you have been worsened by me, and your evil deeds have been punished” (Colum, 1918). Odysseus became famously known as a brilliant hero who won the war with brains rather than brawn. Indicating that knowledge is more powerful than physical strength and no great work can be done without the proper knowledge; empowering individuals to achieve great results.
Leprince de Beaumont, J. M. (1740). Beauty and The Beast. Retrieved from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/7074/7074-h/7074-h.htm.
Aesop's Fables. (1992). Project Gutenberg. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/28/pg28.txt
Pyle, H. (1883). The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood: Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne.
Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10148/10148-h/10148-h.htm#2H_4_21.
Colum, P. (1918). The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy. Retrieved from