Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mythical Beasts: Into the Woods, A Lesson in Fantastical Literature

Connye Griffin writes My Writing and Editing Coach

One of the more disturbing threads of the Red Riding Hood tale is a wolf’s hunger for human flesh. He devours Granny and Red with only a swollen belly to tell the tale--at least in Disney’s version of events unfolding in Sondheim’s musical, Into the Woods. The baker, not the local woodcutter as in the fairy tale of old, rescues both and earns the blood-red cloak he needs.

In the genre of fantasy literature, Red’s wolf is one of many creatures, large and small. It’s a mythical beast dwelling in an imaginary world rooted in a reality we recognize. The wolves we encounter may not be able to converse or swallow whole one grown and one nearly grown female, but we’ve met duplicitous types who do not have our welfare in their hearts or minds.

A papier mache dragon basks upon a homemade ceremonial
rain stick.
Beowulf’s Grendel and his mortal enemy, the dragon, are figures belonging to the fantasy genre. Charlotte’s philosophical web writing are characteristic of sentient beings living in the imagined realms of fairy tales and E. B. White. Sometimes these critters can speak the human language; sometimes they can only speak and understand various animal languages.

Tiny humans endowed with magical powers go by names such as fairies and elves; they too dwell in the imaginary worlds of fantasy. Witches, ogres, and trolls of every shape and size are also present.

Occasionally these mythical beasts terrify us; sometimes their plight is so poignant that we weep. Quite often, we celebrate them for they are the instruments of heroic deeds, if not heroes themselves.

Reading Challenge:

Read about fantasy literature at this online site.

Writing Challenge:

Write a short tale featuring your favorite mythical beast.

Children soon learn to love this mythical beast: Rudolph, the
Red-nosed Reindeer. On one foggy night, he saves Christmas.