The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

 Bruno Bettelheim analyses the most well-known fairy tales in terms of Freudian psychology. He argues that these stories are much more effective than any other form of literature in teaching children about their purpose in life and how to grapple their problems and fears.

 While there is a resurgence of fairy tales in media today, these stories have always been popular, and told countless of times throughout centuries. Analysing some of the most well-known fairy tales in terms of their significance for children in particular, helps to understand their deeper meaning and hence overlook the fact that some could sometimes be considered too dark for a younger reader.

It is argued that their significances are so numerous that they appeal not only to a child but also, to the more rational mind of an adult. And this observation can be verified to a certain extent, when seeing how much today’s fairy tale films appeal to an older audience. Unfortunately there is a real gap between original fairy tales and their film adaptation. When not truthful to the original story, adaptations loose some particular lessons and meaningful information that had been carefully woven into the story in order to perhaps reassure or inform the younger generation. Hence, fairy tale films may interest today’s audience for different reasons than the original texts did in the past. But perhaps, understanding why, originally, they are so important to a children’s personality development, may help understand their appeal to adults today.

 This book and its detailed analysis of well-known fairy tales will thus be helpful in my research to understand the popularity of fairy tales in film.

B,Bettelheim. 1976. Psychanalyse des contes de fées (The Uses of Enchantment), Pocket. Paris

Samadder.R., 2012. Fairy tale films are in fashion – but can Hollywood deliver a happy ending? Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Blog – The Guardian [online blog], 9th November. Available at: [Accessed 14th December 2013]

Windling.T., 2000. Les Contes des Fées: The Literary Fairy Tales of France. [online]. The Endicott Studio. Available at:ées-the-literary-fairy-tales-of-franceby-terri-windling.html [accessed February 2014]


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