Folk tales & Fairy tales

Common features:

  • Formulaic language.
    • Once upon a time… /they lived happily ever after…
    • Usually starts with the same beginning and ending.
    • Growing up/from child to adult.
    • Usually we follow a child who has a lot of challenges and in the end meets his or hers destiny that was meant to be. (Home out home)
  • Flat or stereotype characters.
    • Rich/poor. Prince, princess. Names.
    • The old woman, the poor man.
    • Animals can have human features.
    • 3, 7 or 12 tests.
    • 3 magical characters. (Sleeping beauty – 3 fairies, Snow white – 7 dwarfs)
    • Helpers (fairy godmother, side character)
    • Opponents (witch, ogre, evil stepmother, dragon)
    • Magic gifts (dress and pumpkin from Cinderella, the cat from Puss in boots)
    • Single plot, no side stories.
    • Unknown time and place.
    • “Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…”


  • Ordinary folk tales
    Example: Folkeeventyr
  • Jocular tales
    Example: Funny stories
  • Animal tales and fables
    Example: Narnia
  • Myths
    Example: The Fall
  • Legends
    Example: Hercules
  • Literary folk tales
    Example: Kunsteventyr
  • Urban/modern legends
    Example: Modern folk tales that uses a lot of fear
  • Fantasy
    Example: Alice in wonderland

Freudian reading

  • Interpreted sexually.

Jungian reading

  • Interpreted spiritually.

Biographical reading

  • Interpret the author’s life in the text, but never mentioned.

New criticism

  • Reading and analyzing without knowing text or author.