Graphic and Realistic Violence Used to Traumatize and Warn the Audience

The use of violence in fairy tales has morphed into a way to warn children against bad behavior by creating a “disciplinary regime”.  The violence stops being slapstick humor once the stories start adding morals along with a level of narrative that enforces imagery.  The imagery emphasizes the graphic violence and its consequences, most evident in the Bluebeard tales.  The Bluebeard tales, ranging from the Perrault to the Grimm version, contain graphic imagery that startles and unsettles the reader causing them to remember the “bodies of several dead women hung up on the walls” (145) and “bloody basin filled with dead people” (149).  The graphic nature of these scenes because more disturbing when compared to the other fairy tales where such violence is brought about by whimsical fantasy creatures who do not exist in the real world which makes their threat inconsequential.  The Bluebeard tales have the husband, a relatively ordinary man, as the antagonist which insinuates that such a man could exist thus making him a legitimate threat.  The fact that the existence of such a man is possible, though not as probable, makes the violence in the story a way to make sure that the audience, specifically the children, remember the message and threat presented.  The violence traumatizes the characters in order to represent how important and consequential the events were, as evidenced by the Perrault version where the final sentence is there to explain how the female protagonist can possibly live on after what she had been through.  The graphic and realistic violence in Bluebeard is there to convey the gravity of the problem to the child audience so they understand and remember the warning, even if they must remember it in their nightmares.




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3 responses to “Graphic and Realistic Violence Used to Traumatize and Warn the Audience

  1. smboehm

    I agree completely with your statement. Reading that Bluebeard was cut up “into a thousand pieces” (Tatar 156) isn’t exactly the ideal and picturesque representation of a childhood fairy tale happy ending. Although these images of violence are gruesome in some manners, the overall ideal and reasoning for them is beyond causing readers to be disgusted. In these fairy tales, the theme of violence is used as a striking way for the initial moral and lesson to be taken and understood with great emphasis on the overall warning of the plot. Violence is used to bring about ideals of warnings and an overall “scare-tactic” in efforts to warn the audience of what could become of their fate.

  2. ashleighbarraca

    I think it’s quite interesting that nowadays, people do so much to “protect the children” from violence by way of movie ratings from the MPAA , game ratings, and the like – but as long as the visceral violence is used to serve a lesson in fairy tales, it’s perfectly all right! I feel that Bluebeard is possibly the most unique and modern of all the fairy tales we have studied in class because the violence is real, and the “monster” is an ordinary man. Even children know that if a wolf gobbles you up, you cannot cut your way to life out of its stomach; being chopped to pieces, on the other hand, is final. The monster as the man-next-door is also a modern lesson for children – how many times have serial killers been described as the last person thought to commit violence?

  3. I completely agree with what you are saying here. In other fairy tales, they can still be very frightening, but the fact that Bluebeard is human man and not a beast, wolf, or other creature solidifies the moral of the story. A lot of the fairy tales that use creatures to frighten children could very well have the creatures as humans, but because Bluebeard actually uses a human to portray this story sets it apart. If I had heard this story when I was little the idea of marriage would completely terrify me. It definitely hits a little closer to home since Bluebeard is man, as opposed to Little Red Riding Hood where the wolf tries to eat LRRH. That would seem almost normal in real life, and most little girls would be able to distinguish a wolf. I’m sure if man were to stand as the wolf, it would make the story that much scarier. The idea that rape is present in the tale would also stand out a lot more if that were the case too. So a lot of these fairy tales contain violence, but having the violence come from the human husband makes it stick out from other fairy tales and instills more fear in young girls.

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