From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hansel and Gretel and God

Hansel and Gretel (Rackham, 1909)
Hansel and Gretel are so embedded within the collective consciousness of Western Civilization that they are still making headlines today.

In their current incarnation, these clever siblings are box-office darlings.  Starring in the hit movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 
has enabled them to bring their good-trumps-evil message to a whole new generation of fans.  The Tommy Wirkola/Dante
Harper script features some new twists to the old tale.  Let's just say that if you thought Grimm was grim, you ain't seen nothing yet.  Hansel and Gretel are no longer just shoving one wicked witch into an oven; they are now going after the whole darn coven.

These twists seem to offset the allegedly Christian message that was infused into later editions of the Grimm Brothers' story.  Anna Lowery, in the blog Fairy Tales and Fantasy Literature, tells us that "Hansel and Gretel" is a coming-of-age fable.  She draws this conclusion from psychologist Bruno Bettelheim's analysis of "the children's development."  From Hansel and Gretel's saga, Bettelheim had deduced that "children must not regress, but should be encouraged to fulfill their capacity for a greater psychological and intellectual existence."

Although hunting down witches might fulfill a capacity for violence and revenge, it does not necessarily fulfill
a capacity for merciful love.  Nevertheless, Bettelheim believed that the white bird which led Hansel and Gretel to the witch's house is a "Christian symbol" - and that the Brothers Grimm furthered that symbolism with dialogue such as this:  God will not forsake us… The Lord will protect us.

Although the white bird had led the children into dangerous circumstances, it also symbolized "the importance of faith and God's guidance in life's most difficult and uncertain times."


Copyright January 28, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved


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