There is has been much ado about princesses lately. Movies such Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, Snow White and the Huntsman, and the latest hit, Brave, proves that epic fairy tails are back in ‘vogue’.
It’s not only children who are catching onto the princess hype. I have seen many older people interested in movies such as Brave. In college, I have seen many Disney movie marathons, and it was with young adults that I first saw movies such as Toy Story 3 and Tangled.
There are also many fairy-tail like stories targeted towards adults, such as Stardust, Big Fish, and fantasy related television shows with huge adult followings such as the British television sensation Dr. Who.
I think that some of the themes and ideas these movies get across can connect with people well into adulthood.
C.S. Lewis once said that when he was ten he read fairy tails in secret, and would have been ashamed if anyone found out. At 50, he reads them openly. There is a stage in life where all kids want to be very grown up in every way possible, so doing anything as childish as watching a princess movie is ‘off limits’. However, after you pass the awkward teenage years when you are trying hard to seem very grown up, most people find these stories enjoyable.
There is more to the draw of these stories than simply entertainment. There is something about the format of these stories that people truly connect with. This format, often referred to as “The Heroes Journey” can be found in the format of may classic fairy-tales.
I am in a writing group at Ball State University called The Invictus Writers , which consist of a group of college students writing about difficult parts of their life and how they overcame it. Students are writing about subjects such as eating disorders, unrequited love, and solo trips around the country. In the end, we hope our final project will be a published book.
During this project, we had to learn how to fit the seemly random events of our day to day lives into The Heroes Journey format, which includes plot points such as “call to adventure” “supernatural aid” “temptation” “death and rebirth” and “transformation.”
This is the format that many classic fairy tails follow. The protagonist is always an unlikely hero who faces dangers and overcome obstacles and, in the end, becomes who they were always meant to be. Things never come easy to the protagonist. All good heroes have to fight for their happy ending.
At first, I could not figure out how to go about looking at my real life through the lenses of the Hero’s Journey. I could not remember ever having someone call me into a grand adventure such as the ones you see in movies. I never physically died at the hands of some great beast.
My intro to fiction writing professor once told my class that there was nothing more real than fiction. I believe this is true. Fairy tails are true not because they tell us that monsters exist, but because they tell us that monsters can be beaten. As Christians, women, or even just as humans, that is an important lessons to learn and remember.
Lessons about adventure, life, death, rebirth, and transformation are taught on a day to day basic, but we hardly stop, reflect, and think about how it all fits into our overall life story. A part of the human experience is living our own personal hero’s journey, battling our own personal dragons, and sharing our story with the world.
Thinking about the format of a story and trying to apply it to life can give you a new perspective. Reflection allows you to see what you have learned from your unique experiences and will give you clues to the next step to take in life.
I believe one of the major themes in many stories is hope despite adversity. No matter what you are going though in life, hope exists. Sometimes you just have to fight for it. After all, the best stories are written with our lives, not our pens.