The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales

By Sheldon Cashdan | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Three is a special number in fairy tales. Snow White's stepmother, the queen, tempts Snow White with lethal gifts on three separate occasions. Cinderella, after repeatedly eluding the prince on her first two trips to the ball, loses her slipper on the third. And the miller's daughter promises Rumpelstiltskin her firstborn during the little man's third appearance. The number three is a staple of fairy tales: three visits, three trials, three promises.

I had three goals--three wishes, so to speak--when I set out to write The Witch Must Die. The first was to provide readers with a new way of understanding fairy tales. What do these age-old stories signify? What deeper meanings do they possess? Fairy tales are the first stories we hear, and though they are meant to enchant and entertain, they also offer us a means of addressing psychological conflicts. Using "the seven deadly sins of childhood" as a unifying theme, The Witch Must Die demonstrates how fairy tales help children deal with envy, greed, vanity, and other troublesome tendencies.

The second goal is to revisit the fairy tales of our youth in order to illuminate hidden meanings in the stories that were glossed over when we were young. Few children understand why Snow White lets the evil queen into the cottage three times in the face of the dwarfs' repeated warnings or why the princess in The Frog Prince refuses the frog's request to hop into bed. Is it merely that the frog is wet and clammy, or is there more to it than that? And it is not readily apparent that the reason the witch cuts off Rapunzel's tresses is to punish her for becoming pregnant, a condition that comes to light when the young girl's apron no longer fits about her waist. Adults have little trouble making these connections, but children do.

-ix-

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The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Dedication Page v
  • Other Works by Sheldon Cashdan vi
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - Once Upon a Time 1
  • 2 - The Witch Within The Sleeping Beauties 21
  • 4 - Where Bread Crumbs Lead 63
  • 5 - Envy If the Slipper Fits . . 85
  • 6 - Objects That Love 107
  • 7 - Deceit Spinning Tales, Weaving Lies 129
  • 8 - Lust A Tail of the Sea 151
  • 9 - Greed The Beanstalk's Bounty 173
  • 10 - Sloth Geppetto's Dream 195
  • 11 - Inside Oz 217
  • 12 - Once Upon a Future 239
  • Appendix 1 - Using Fairy Tales 259
  • Appendix 2 - Finding Fairy Tales 273
  • Index 277
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