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Religious Symbolism in Grimm’s Rapunzel

Religious Symbolism in Grimm’s Rapunzel

A fairy tale is seemingly a moral fiction, intended mainly for children. A lesson in critical analysis, however, strips this guise and reveals the naked truth beneath; fairy tales are actually vicious, logical and sexual stories wearing a mask of deceptively easy language and an apparent moral. Two 19th Century writers, the Grimm brothers, were masters at writing these exaggerated stories, bewitching young readers with their prose while padding their stories with allusion and reference: an example of which is “Rapunzel.” Grimm’s “Rapunzel” is packed with religious symbolism, which lends a new insight to the meaning of this classic story.

The relation between “Rapunzel” and the story of Christianity is apparent immediately as a result of the setting. The witch’s garden is described as “a beautiful garden full of the finest vegetables and flowers,” depicting perfectly the Garden of Eden from Genesis. Now, with the scene in place, the Grimm brothers begin further correlation between the two stories.

The witch, indicative of the serpent, tempts the mother and father with her rampion so that she might steal their child. In the story of creation, the serpent has the same idea in mind for Adam and Eve. The serpent knows that if man sins against God, he is unable to enter heaven and therefore must face the alternative, a life of eternal suffering in hell. In eating the forbidden fruit, the parents are cursing their child, humanity, to a life apart from God. But, just as with Adam and Eve, the parents must also endure earthly hardships, characterized by childbirth. In Genesis 3:17, Eve is cursed to bear children through intense pain; consequently, Rapunzel was born. …

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…shown through Rapunzel’s response.

The witch learns of Rapunzel’s interaction with the Prince and places her in the desert, and when the Prince climbs the tower to seek Rapunzel, he finds the witch waiting there for him. At this point, the witch’s assumption and belief that she has won coincides perfectly with Satan’s arrogance in believing that by killing Christ, he would forever have dominion over man. To the witch’s dismay, the Prince hurls himself from the tower, putting out his eyes on the thorns below. This is symbolic of Christ’s conscious sacrifice for humanity on the hills over Nazareth. The Prince wanders blindly through the desert, and, after several years, is reunited with his beloved Rapunzel. Ultimately, the story’s happy ending is a realization of God’s promise that through Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and find everlasting life.

A Feminist Look at The Descent of Odin

A Feminist Look at The Descent of Odin

It is obvious that there are many differences between men and women. Throughout history women have been taught to dress, act, and speak differently than men. These differences are so common that they can sometimes be overlooked in everyday life and in reading. By taking a closer look at poems and stories one can begin to see how frequently gender differences occur. Thomas Gray’s “The Decent of Odin,” read from a Feminist point of view can reveal many examples of these differences through the use of dialogue.

The Marxist Feminist view looks at the relationship between class and gender (HCAL 202). This poem was written in 1761, a time when women were considered second to men. Men spoke down to women and controlled them, especially women of a lower class. In this poem Odin is the chief of the Norse gods and the Prophetess is but a lowly god of the underworld (Grey 61). This gives Odin control over her. The poem shows a good example of this control that men Odin has. When he is asking to find out who killed his son he commands the Prophetess to, “Once again my call obey” (51). Three times he orders the Prophetess to obey. This continual order to obey is also a clue to the reader that Odin is of a higher class than the Prophetess. He not only commands the Prophetess, but also insults her. After she discovers who Odin is, he lashes back at her by saying, “No boding maid of skill divine art thou, nor prophetess of good; but mother of the giant brood!” (84-86) At the time that this poem was written chivalry was very important. Although a woman was not considered equal to a man, she was treated with some respect if she was of an upper class. The Prophetess, however, was of a class of gods below Odin and, therefore, she was spoken to like a servant.

Gender differences are further woven into the tone of each of the characters.

Odin speaks forcefully as men do more often than women. He is also more direct in what he is saying, where as the Prophetess takes four lines to ask who wakes her from her sleep. Odin interrupts the Prophetess at one point in the poem, which is an action associated with men more than it is with women.

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