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wish-twisting imps

What do you think of the wish-twisting imps? You get these in fairytales; in myths certain gods carry out the job, to whit:

The Foolish Maiden says, "I wish I was the most beautiful girl in the town"

wish-twisting imps then grant the wish by doing something like making everyone else terribly ugly, or worse yet, killing them--thereby destroying any pleasure in having the wish come true.


Sometimes there's a point to this--like with Midas learning a lesson about What's Important In Life. (Not Gold. Your Daughter.)

But what really is the role of this device in stories? Is it to teach that nothing is easy? (You can't just get rich by wishing for it.) Is it to teach you to be grateful for the things you have? Sometimes it's for pure entertainment value, like when the old couple waste their three wishes wishing the sausage to appear on each other's nose.

Sometimes it has to do with respecting the supernatural. If you're nice to the fairies or the gods, they'll give you something nice, like a magical animal helper. And if you're mean--well, watch out. That spider you tried to squash will remember it. And the least shall be greatest, and the greatest shall be brought low. (Well, that's when more isn't being given to those who already have, of course.)

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
babydriver
Oct. 26th, 2006 11:02 pm (UTC)
Intersting thoughts, Madame. My German final is writing a fairy tale, and I'm thinking on including something of the wish imp persuasion. I've always thought they had something to do with interfering with the supernatural elements. By relying on the wishgiver for happiness, one sidesteps God and the prayerful life that would ideally bring blessings.
asakiyume
Oct. 27th, 2006 05:07 am (UTC)
Wow, what a great final--I would *love* that. I think you're right, that it does have to do with not showing the proper respect for God, or the gods, or the powers of the world, somehow--or perhaps/also, how powerful the very act of wishing is (as in "be careful what you wish for").

I'm interested also in constructed fairytales (as opposed to folktale fairytales like the ones the Grimm brothers collected)--like the ones by Hans Christian Andersen or this Japanese guy, who didn't exactly write fairytales, but they were like fairytales, called Miyazawa Kenji. A comparison between those two is very interesting because HCA was writing from a very Christian perspective, and MK was very Buddhist.
yorukamome
Oct. 27th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
yes....be always kind and respectful to the Little People and
the Kami, and the Golden Pot will shine in your fairy heart,

kamome
deponti
Oct. 27th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC)
Enjoyed both the post and the comments. Can't add much that is articulate at this time!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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