Everything in the tales appears to happen by chance – and this has the strange effect of making it appear that nothing happens by chance, that everything is fated. – A. S. Byatt
Two hundred years ago today, the Brothers Grimm published their Household Tales. One of the appeals of the tales is how random events seem connected; as A. S. Byatt says in her excellent essay (online here). They are stories of princesses, simpletons, brothers and sisters who meet with good or bad ‘luck’ on their quest, yet are bound by the rules of the fairy tale world – a kind of guided randomness – usually with a happy ending. Perhaps this is the way children see the world: capricious, sometimes scary, but in the end, a hopeful place. As a child I loved how the characters meet the forces of their fickle, often gruesome world with kindness and cunning. (Illustration by Arthur Rackham; more Grimm illustrations here).
Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.– G.K. Chesterton