Children play an important role in our society. They are the future of the human race and is important that they are taught how to become a man or a woman. It is up to the parents of the children to instill values and to teach their child how to behave. They must explain to them what is right and wrong, and also what to do and not too. Reading fairy tales to children is a good way for parents to bond with their children. But something the parents may not know is the meaning behind fairy tales. Different versions of the same tale may tell a much different story. Both Sexton's "Hansel and Gretel" and Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel" have the same basic plot. Grimm's version is for children, while Sexton's version is suited towards an older age group. Both fairytales explain how parents should treat their children and also what the different roles of a woman and a man are.
Although the stories talk about the same thing their views are different. In "Hansel and Gretel male and female children are treated differently and are taught to behave like the typical man or woman.
Throughout the Sexton's fairytale children are treated much differently than the typical child is treated. All of the adults in the story treat children as though they are property. They use them for what they are good for. "Little child, Little nubkin, Sweet as fudge,You are my blitz.
I will spit on you for luck, For you are better than money" (Sexton, 101) In this quote Sexton is saying how parents have children in order to take advantage of the benefits of having children. If you have children society treats you much differently. You are more like the typical American family. Children can be used to draw attention to their parents. People may approach and be very kind and forgiving because you have children. They understand the hardships of having children and think you are a better person because of it. This quote also shows how innocent children are. Children are not evil until they grow up and are taught how to act. Your child will probably turn out like you. If you are evil, then your child may become evil. If you are a good person then your child will learn this instead.
Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel" tells a similar story but teaches much different values. This fairytale is meant to show what will happen to your children if you do not take care and watch after them. "Take them miles from home, so far that they can never find their way back! Mabye someone will find them and give them a home. The stepmother is trying to talk Hansel and Gretel's father to get rid of the children. He loves them very much but he also does not want to disobey his wife. Finally she convinces him and leads them into the woods. This story not only tells a tale to children but it teaches parents a lesson. It teaches them to make sure that you are looking after your children. Do not use them as object because they are not property. However if you do treat your children badly something is going to happen to you or them. Until you regret what you have done and all evil has left you, will you then have a true and loving family to live and prosper.
In Sexton's "Hansel and Gretel" males play an important role in making decisions and coming up with ideas: "Hansel heard this, and took pebbles with him, into the forest. He dropped a pebble every fifth step Hansel had heard his parents talking and had to come up with an idea in order to save him and Gretel. He understood that his stepmother was evil and he was just going to have to find a way home. "Then she took Hansel/ the smarter, the bigger, /the juicier, into the barn" (Sexton 103). Hansel never showed any fear. He was always ready for whatever was thrown at him. He played the typical role of a young man growing up. The only other man in the story was very similar to Hansel. His father was a woodcutter, who remarried. It was part of his job to do the hard work around the house and to listen to everything his wife said. He might argue with her but in the long run things will go her way. "All night long, the woodcutter's wife harped on and on at her husband till, at dawn, he led Hansel and Gretel away from the forest." (Grimm's). Although the woodcutter did not want to leave his children in the woods his wife forced him to. He was easily manipulated and convinced by her.
The two adult women in this story both play similar roles. They are both evil and are willing to sacrifice people for their own well being or happiness. "The wicked stepmother kept Hansel and Gretel under lock all day long with nothing for supper but a sip of water and some hard bread." (Grimm's) Both of the women in this story are evil and deceiving. Society defines the role of a woman to nurture her children and to give them all of her love. In this story this is far from how the women treat Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel are treated as thought they are property and they can be passed around until all of their resources are used up. The final solution,their mother told their father,was to lose the children in the forest.We have enough bread for ourselvesbut none for them. Here the stepmother is trying to convince the father that they need to get rid of the children. She sees no need for them anymore and is worried that they will run out of food. Rather than her sharing with her children like a normal mother would she decides to get rid of them. This does not seem to phase her at all. She is just getting rid of something that she owns.
The way that society or a story defines a specific group of people is very important. In some stories women are portrayed to be the evil character. In other stories men are. Before reading something you must understand the author's point of view on the material. Both of the fairytales explain ways in which parents should treat their children and what will happen because of this. The Stepmother and the witch were both evil and ended up dieing in the end of the story. The woodcutter was a good person but was convinced by his wife to do things that he would not normally do. Since the woodcutter had a good heart and he was not all evil he ended up living and raising his children under his own rules not those of his evil wife. It is important to follow your own beliefs and not to let someone tell you what is right and wrong.