“Fairy tales since the beginning of recorded time, and perhaps earlier, have been ‘a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor’.”― Jack Zipes
Many people tend to think that made up stories are good for nothing, that they have no power or influence. They are just for kids. Bedtime stories. They are useless, worthless. And those people could not be more wrong. It is on the pages of tales, fairy or realistic fiction, even science fiction that you can learn how to slay your dragons.
In stories you gain understandings on what fear is, how different people react to fear. You gain insight into the feelings of others, whether different or similar to yours. That can either produce understanding, a sense of united-ness. Or of hope. Of feeling like you are not so alone in your alone-ness.
It’s not the actual words on the pages that mean something, but the meaning behind them. Stories, for the most part, are layered. They are like cake. You have sponge, you have cream, you have fruit, you have icing. Each individual favor and texture is unique and yet needed to complement each other to make a great cake.
I once read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (originally in German). It’s a basic sic-fi classic from 1915. He begins a slow process of turning into an insect one day upon waking up until he fully is unknown to his family and himself. Now, we could leave it at that, but you’d miss so much in just reading the story for itself, like I did that first time.
In reality, Kafka was making a social commentary on the heavy industrialization and thus the changing world from what had been known for hundreds of years (that and many other issues). But he explains how he feel in this ‘new world’. He feels like a bug in his own shoes. An insect that is despised and cast out by society for having original thoughts.
Layers. That’s what makes a story great. That’s what creates connection between writer and his/her audience and that is important. It is highly amazing to feel a common emotion with people across the country, the world. People you’ve never met. People who are different from you, who have an experience completely opposite you-and yet, you can see and understand through stories that you are, at the root of everything, quite the same- that as humans, we ARE basically the same.
That is important. That is beautiful. So read the tales, but don’t just leave it there. Feel the stories, let the tales run deep through you and into others.