Recently published was this article by Joanna Weiss of The Boston Globe called Fear of Fairy Tales.
From the article:
Fairy tale" may be our shorthand for castles and happy endings, but these classic stories have villains, too - nefarious witches, bloodthirsty wolves, stepmothers up to no good. And scholars have come to see the stories' dark elements as the source of their power, not to mention their persistence over the centuries. Rich in allegory, endlessly adaptable, fairy tales emerged as a framework for talking about social issues. When we remove the difficult parts - and effectively do away with the stories themselves - we're losing a surprisingly useful common language.
Children learn some fairy tales too early in life, and those versions are the sanitized, defanged versions. I talked a little bit about how I was revealing fairy tales to my daughter bit by bit in the post Secrets I Keep from My Daughter. She looked forward to "Snow White" for what felt like a long time to her, and then we worked with that fairy tale for awhile. The big question that arose from multiple readings of the story was, "Where did Snow White's soul go when her body was in the coffin?"
Thanks to Big A, little a for the link.