Plucking the rose: attitudes toward nature in the modern American fairy tale

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University of Alabama Libraries

This thesis compares modern American fairy tales (hypertexts) with earlier influential fairy stories (hypotexts), in particular those bearing intertextual links to the "Beauty and the Beast" tale type, in order to identify changing American attitudes toward nature and to pinpoint prevailing trends of opinion in mainstream American culture today. The fairy stories chosen, through characterization, identify a human main character with civilization and a fairy main character with the wilderness. In this way, nature is made into an "Other," something super-natural and thus something different from humans. Readers may, through fairy tales, accommodate modern ideas about the preservation of nature with the more traditional role of dominating nature in order to achieve a sense of safety in those spaces not under direct human control. Indeed, to a large extent in these tales the certain, mutually beneficial outcome is human domestication of the fairy creature through sympathetic guidance. This indicates that a belief in the primacy of human communion with nature is becoming a mainstream belief in modern American culture.

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American literature, Modern literature, Literature