What are some popular fairy tales?


Quick Answer

Some popular fairy tales include "Snow White," "Cinderella," "Rapunzel," "The Brave Little Tailor" and "The Snow Queen." Fairy tales are stories set in a world both listener and teller recognize as imaginary. They generally contain multiple recognized fairy-tale tropes, such as the wise fool in the form of a youngest son or the princess who exists primarily to be rescued by a brave hero.

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Full Answer

Most popular fairy tales are derived from only a handful of sources, especially Charles Perrault's writings, the fairy tale collections of the Brothers Grimm, the Colored Fairy Book series of Andrew Lang and the writings of Hans Christian Andersen. Few of the stories in these collections are pure and unchanged versions of traditional peasant tales, as is often claimed. Perrault, much like Shakespeare and other writers of that period, adapted stories from foreign writers or traditional tales and added his own details, such as Cinderella's pumpkin coach and glass slippers. Andersen also wrote his own fairy tales, often entirely from his own imagination, and both the Grimm brothers and Lang collected stories from others but greatly embellished them for their own editorial purposes, especially the teaching of morals to children.

Researchers have taken to drawing a difference between the oral tale, which is one that is more or less faithful to the original folk story, and the literary tale, which is a fairy tale created by a writer. Popular fairy tales usually fall into a gray area between the two types, using possibly ancient plots and motifs while embellishing the stories to appeal to more modern readers and listeners.

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