Essay #2: Morality and Fairy Tales
: This essay asks you to use all you have learned throughout this semester, including rhetorical analysis, modes of argumentation and persuasion, and the practice of discovering and conveying your own style. In addition, this essay asks you to avoid using logical fallacies in your composition.
: “Beauty and the Beast” by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont <
“Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault, “Snow White” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm053.html>, “Bluebeard” by Charles Perrault <
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault03.html>, and one
fairy tale of your choosing (a classic Perrault, Grimm or Disney version).
: Fairy tales are so old that they date back to the oral tradition when stories were told by word of mouth instead of paper and
pen. This is why there is no one main version of a fairy tale; each version differs depending on the region, the audience, the
translators, and so on. Despite their differences, there is one goal that classic fairy tales have, which is to represent the fundamental
flaws of human nature and create morals to teach audiences (particularly children) to avoid those flaws. It is this element that is most
interesting for critical thinkers, who work to scrutinize truth, identify discrepancies, and avoid logical errors. Therefore, addressing
these morals as arguments is what we will do for this essay, and our job will be to determine the strength and/or weaknesses of these
: Choose one of the three options below and construct a well-developed and well-argued essay:
CHOICE #1: Fairy tales were originally meant to teach morality. Choose one moral and analyze whether it is a
strong/weak argument in 1-2 fairy tales you read (Note: if you are interested in using a film version of the fairy
tale, please talk to me first). In evaluating the moral, consider criteria regarding characters’ actions, the author’s
manner of writing, dialogue and the plot.
CHOICE #2: Fairy tales often show human nature in very black and white ways – as innately good or evil. Choose
a fairy tale villain or hero and evaluate whether or not their actions, characteristics and values accurately
represent what a villain or hero should be. Focus on one fairy tale character but feel free to use 1-2 representations
of the same character (i.e. Beauty in Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast” and Beauty in ABC’s
One Upon a Time).
CHOICE #3: Fairy tales are influenced by the era in which they were written. Many have evolved through time.
Choose a classic version of one fairy tale and another modern version of the same fairy tale (could be a film version
as well) and evaluate which version teaches morals/values that are beneficial to us as individuals/society and why.
You may want to focus on a couple specific morals/values for a more focused essay.
CHOICE #4: PART 1: Write a fairy tale of your own which teaches a strong moral lesson. (You can either create
your own fairy tale or write a remake of an already existing one). PART 2: Write a one page rhetorical analysis of
your fairy tale, analyzing what makes the moral argument a strong one.
Choice #1 –There are obviously many morals to be found in fairy tales; some even contain more than one. For example,
obedience is the primary moral taught in “Bluebeard,” kindness and compassion are taught in “Snow White,” but within each fairy tale
you will find many more moral lessons like “don’t talk to strangers,” “don’t accept gifts from strangers,” “don’t allow your curiosity
to get the better of you,” and so on. Think carefully about which moral you would like to focus on so that you are not merely listing all
the morals you notice in the fairy tale(s) you choose. Keep in mind this is not a list; it is an argument.
Choice #2 – If that choice does not appeal to you, then you may do a more thematic argument on a particular character in these fairy tales. Since fairy tales often
oversimplify their representation of heroes and villains, it is interesting to evaluate whether or not a particular character is actually a
hero or villain. For example, Anne Sexton’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” represents a shallow and easily corruptible version
of Snow White that makes us question whether she can actually be called a “hero”. This essay asks for a character analysis, so you
will need to define the concept of a hero or villain and then evaluate whether a particular character fits your definition.
Choice #3 –It is important to note that morals change with time, and so it is very common to see a particular moral depicted one way in the 17th
century but another way in the 21st century. This comparison enlightens us about our values today and we often realize ways in which
we have improved as a society but also values we have lost as a society. If you choose this topic, don’t forget to include historical
context. Clarify what society back then was like so we can fully understand the change you are emphasizing.
Choice #4: It is important to first evaluate what moral values and lessons are important in our current modern society before beginning to construct
your lesson. You may follow Perrault’s model and emphasize the most important moral lesson at the end of your tale, or you can
leave it up to the readers to interpret the main lesson you are attempting to teach. Your rhetorical analysis should be a brief