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Role of Silence in Fairy Tales

The purpose of this research is to examine the role of silence in fairy tales. The plan of the research will be to discuss patterns of silence in fairy tales and then to discuss the means by which these patterns emerge, the consequences to characters of the experience of silence, and complex power of silence as a narrative strategy.

In the unfolding pattern of the plot, silence accomplishes narrative purpose, moving along events by reason of the gap in time that it creates. It is left to the reader's imagination to either fill in the gap or make a jump in narrative logic from one point to another. In "The Water Nixie," there is no absence of events, but the events very much unfold in silence, with the little brother and sister jumping over gaps of time and experience, or more exactly thinking their way through these gaps, as they extricate themselves from the nixie. Silence can be instrumental for characters as well, especially when it serves to conceal a private purpose, desire, or fear. For example, in "The Water Nixie," only the "adult" nixie speaks, initially declaring that she has the children in her power and later formulating the thought of going home to fetch the ax. The children, meanwhile, do not say; they do, focused on escape. In "The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest" silence conceals truth, not only of the nature of the universe but also of individual psychology. In this regard, Zipes appears to take the view that it is a misdirection of effort to place too much emphasis on the psychoanalytical features of fairy tales. His view is that "the tales have ofen been taken out of context to demonstrate the value of a psycholanalytical theory rather than to render a cultural and aesthetic appreciatoin and evaluation of the text" (Zipes xxv). On the other hand, the evidence of the "Gnomes" text is that the little men accurately gauge the psychological and moral makeup of each of the sisters and dispense their wishes accordingl...

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Role of Silence in Fairy Tales. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:01, August 03, 2020, from