THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim

THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

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For more than 25 years Bruno Bettelheim has shared his original observations on child development in numerous books and articles. This book (parts of which appeared in The New Yorker) imaginatively explores the importance of fairy tales in the young child's life and the deeper meanings of some of the better-known stories. Fairy tales are essential for children because they acknowledge that good and evil are attractive, that struggle is a crucial part of human existence, that there are advantages to moral behavior. They give assurance that any person--however weak or small--can overcome obstacles and find satisfaction in the effort. By simplifying situations and characters, fairy tales speak directly to the emotional and psychological core of the child. Repeatedly Bettelheim Finds deep psychological significance in seemingly random details: e.g., two brothers as one person with conflicting desires, or a giant undone by a simpleton's cunning. Seeing that story-problems can be resolved enables a child to act out his own inner conflicts through a fantasy life structured and enriched by literary analogy. Bettelheim looks closely at seven of the more famous stories (Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.) and at some of the tales featuring transformations. As always, he writes with authority and a profound respect for children. An invaluable reference for those involved with children and their literature.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0307739635
Publisher: Knopf