Life Is Quite Different From Stories

Essay by oguzkrs April 2009

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In order to spread the understanding of goodness starting from childhood, stories are the commonly used tools because children mostly tend to believe them. Moreover, sometimes they create an imaginary world in which they are the leading characters of these stories. That is why the writers should be careful while introducing the characters in their stories to the children. The events and life stories of the characters can even affect the children’s psychologies which will later affect their attitude towards the world. In most of the stories that are famous worldwide, there are always both good and bad characters that show them the possibility of the existence of the danger they can face. However, they also have to help the children to develop trust towards people and that is the reason why one way or another the good people gains the victory. The main goal in these stories are to show the children that there are both bad and good people in the world and as long as people remain good, they will be successful and happy.

On the other hand, the observations of the real life shows that life is not based on such a balance. On the contrary, many examples from real life indicate that bad people are usually getting what they want because they do not hesitate to deceive or hurt people. Furthermore, it is possible to see people who are suffering from being deceived and questioning why bad people always win. So as they grew older, many people are disappointed because of the truth that the world is neither fair nor the people are totally pure. Even though the world in the stories are usually a simplified one which is a technique used for children, the real world outside is much more complicated and quite differentThe stories, which are powerful enough to affect the personality development of an individual during the childhood period, are mostly based on the struggle between good and bad characters. Not surprisingly, at the end the good character usually overcomes. The most famous examples of these stories are Cinderella and Hansel & Gretel. The good characters in the stories are the young, beautiful girl Cinderella, and two unwanted children, Hansel & Gretel respectively. In the first story, Cinderella is a young and happy girl living with his father, his step mother and sisters until his father dies. After then, she suffers from the torture of her step mother with her sisters who are jealous of her beauty and goodness. “They made her work hard all day, and in the evening she had to sit among the cinders.” (Andrew) Hansel &Gretel are two siblings whose family is starving from hunger and their mother wants to get rid of them. So, they are left inside the forest and met with a witch who at first seems friendly. “The woman, however, is a witch who has built the house to entice children to her, so that she may fatten and eat them. She locks Hansel in a cage, and makes Gretel her servant.” (Ivy)As mentioned above, the bad characters in them are the vain stepmother and sisters of Cinderella and the heartless mother of Hansel & Gretel who is cruel enough to let the children die in the forest. These characters represent the concepts goodness and badness that every people may face one day but according to the stories, at the end goodness usually overcomes badness which prepares happy endings for the good ones. “When the Prince arrived at her villa, the Stepsisters tried in vain. When Cinderella asked if she might, the Stepsisters taunted her. Naturally, it fit perfectly and the Stepsisters begged for forgiveness , and Cinderella forgave them for their cruelties.” (Andrew) “After reuniting with their father and finding out that their stepmother has died, they all live happily ever after.” (Ivy) As we see, the concept of forgiveness and payback is also emphasized in the stories. In other words, if one is good then he should forgive and one day bad people will also suffer.

The narrative structure which we impose on our experiences creates a thought which makes us see our life experiences as stories. In order to understand the differences between the stories and real life experiences; the examples that show a similar understanding of the goodness and badness concepts with the stories should be examined. For instance in the story, Cinderella suffers from her stepmother however, in the end both her stepmother and sisters apologize which is expected to indicate the defeat of badness by goodness. However, sometimes understanding of badness and goodness varies. Even innocent children suffer and this makes us question the limits of badness. “The father and stepmother of a 5-year- old girl allegedly thrown from a sixth-floor apartment window were arrested Friday, Brazilian police said.” (Muello) The child was only 5 years old and did not even have a chance to understand her suffer. When people hear news like this, they start the question the existence of goodness and the limits of badness. So this shows that at the end, the understanding of goodness and badness is more different in the simplified world of stories.

Likewise, there are other examples in real life that are strong enough to change the common beliefs about goodness and badness. “Andrea Yates of Houston, Texas, a mother suffering from postpartum depression, went on a killing spree. The victims were none other than her own five children, all between 7 years and 6 months old.” (CBS ) In this example, the meaning of goodness and badness is a total enigma. It is not possible to label the mother neither innocent nor guilty and thus, there is no obvious sign of badness or goodness here on its own. It is even possible to see a sign of badness as the advocate of the mother considers using the postpartum depression as an excuse. Now, some people may find the mother right and innocent but on the other hand, some may also believe that she is a bad and guilty mother. At that point, the distinction between good and bad is not easy to determine and the situation is quite different from the one in the stories.

As mentioned above, the difference between the understanding of bad and good in the stories and the real life is noticeable. According to stories, there is always a clear line between good and bad which helps people to determine which one to choose. Thus, it is expected that people will always choose the right way in order to be in the side of goodness however mostly people make choices without knowing whether it is a good or bad choice. This is where the good and bad are separated from each other in the real and complicated world. There are again examples for this situation such as; “No charges for policemen who killed man carrying table leg: The Attorney General was accused of bowing to political pressure after it emerged that no police officer will be prosecuted for shooting dead a man.” (Verkaik & Bennetto) In this example, the act of the other policemen can be seen as the defense of their friends but according to the dead men’s relatives, this shows such an unfair place the world really is.

Furthermore, sometimes people can do wrong things while trying to protect themselves and it may be seen as selfishness by the others. People can commit crime and try to find ways to get away with it either by chance or by using the deficiencies in the law. For instance, after a teenager is murdered in a car accident; his killer can still be outside going on his life. “Carr-Grillo's parents say they want the driver, identified by classmates as Tyler Canales, prosecuted for the death of their son. "They haven't done anything," Michelle Grillo said of the police. "He's still running around."” (Callahan) The other teenager driving the car may be guilty and his effort of trying to get away with it may not be too noble however, when people ask the same question to themselves; not too many can claim to do the opposite. The concept of subjectivity has the power to change the beliefs about goodness and badness. When things are evaluated subjectively, distinguishing good and bad gets more and more difficult for people. This is also a difference between the meanings of good and bad in the world of stories and the world of reality.

As a result from all these four examples above, it is quite appropriate to conclude that the understanding about the concepts of goodness and badness in real life is much more different from how they are taught in the stories. In the stories like Cinderella and Hansel & Gretel, the good characters suffer but eventually the bad characters find happiness at the beginning. This is the main feature of the stories that draws the line between good and bad and the children are aimed to learn this difference. In other words, there is a more simplified world of the stories in which the distinction of goodness and badness is already drawn by certain lines. On the other hand in real life, no rules actually exist because everything is not separated as black and white. To some extent, good people find happiness and welfare while bad people get what they deserve but there are also parts in which some good people continuously suffer while bad people somehow find a way out. Namely, there is some kind of a balance in the world which brings both suffering and welfare for the good people and also for the bad people.

When the concepts of good and bad in the stories and real life are compared, the situation can be seen more clearly. The main characters in Cinderella and Hansel & Gretel represent goodness, some main characters of the real life stories may be seen as representatives of badness. The actual problem about all these concepts, beliefs and worlds in the stories and real life is that they differ to a big extent. Many people like mentioning their life experiences as their own stories which is called the narrative structure of the real life. There can be numerous reasons for that and one of them can be their try of differentiating good and bad subjectively. In other words, there can actually be Cindrellas, Hansels and Gretels among the others but usually the main characters of real life stories experience different dilemmas way beyond a casual story character does. Unfortunately, good people do not always find happiness as a gift to their goodness and bad people do not always get punished because of what they have done to good people.

In conclusion, the childhood period is assumed to be one of the most important stages in an individual’s personality development. During this period, a person develops the trust issue and the most significant trust he should develop is the trust towards the people and the world. This is why in order to spread the understanding of goodness starting from childhood; stories are the commonly used tools because children mostly tend to believe them and place themselves with the story characters. However, the idea of being careful while trusting the others is also important in order to avoid from getting hurt. Thus, bad characters and what they are capable of, how cruel they can become is also introduced through the stories. The main goal in these stories are to show the children that there are both bad and good people in the world and as long as people remain good, they will be successful and happy. When the real life is examined, it turns out that this assumption is not totally correct. Even though the stories always tell people to trust goodness and avoid from badness, it is not always easy to choose the right path objectively. Various examples from daily life which can also be seen through news show numerous different types of event. The characters of the news are judged by people according to their choices and acts. Some people think they represent goodness while others think they are only pretending in order to take attention. Likewise, some characters are believed to represent badness but their actions can also be interpreted as self-defense. Despite there are more clear definitions of good and bad in the simplified world of stories, the distinction between them are not that much clear in real life. To sum up, the situation in the real life is quite different from the stories especially about the concepts of goodness and badness inside them. These concepts and what the characters represent in the stories are intentionally prepared to teach children the difference between good and bad. However, there is no clear distinction between good and bad in the real world stories.

WORKS CITEDAndrew , Cinderella , Blue Fairy Book, Aug 4 , 2006 , Lang, Hansel and Gretel , Sep 3 , 2007, Peter. Father, Stepmother Held in Girl’s Death. April 19, 2008. Oakland Tribune., Mary. March Crash Called Homicide, but No Arrest. Oct 13, 2008, Depressed Mother Kills Her Children. Jun 21, 2001. CBS Worldwide Inc., Robert & Bennetto, Jason. Shot Dead by Police 30. Officers Convicted 0. Oct 21, 2005.