Into the Dark Forest: The Fairy Tale Heroine’s Journey

Originally posted on Theodora Goss:


Into the Dark Forest: The Fairy Tale Heroine’s Journey by Theodora Goss “Ladies. Has it ever occurred to you that fairy tales aren’t easy on the feet?” –Kelly Link, “Travels with the Snow Queen”

Once upon a time, there was a teacher who taught a class on fairy tales. She taught all the fairy tales you’ve probably read, and ones you probably haven’t. At some point during the semester, she started noticing an underlying pattern that she called “the fairy tale heroine’s journey.”

The “fairy tale heroine’s journey” can teach us important lessons about our own journeys. After all, our society isn’t as different as we sometimes think from the societies in which fairy tales were told or written. And women’s lives aren’t as different, either. We may be CEOs and university professors and artists, but we still leave our homes, enter dark forests, find temporary places of shelter. We must still learn to use the gifts we were given, find friends and helpers along the way. We must certainly still learn to work, so we can make our way in the world. And we still long for true partnership, for a home where we can rest. Unlike fairy tale heroines, we will probably make this journey not once, but many times during our lives. Fairy tales can help us understand where we are going and the steps along the way.


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