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Who Wants To Be A Fairytale Dad

Fairytale dads don’t make the best role models, as Tony Scanlan found out.

I was reading Snow White to my son the other day, and I began to wonder where her father was while the wicked queen was planning Snow’s murder. Then, after the woodsman loses Snow White in the forest, there’s no search parties, no “heads will roll” bellowed from the castle’s parapet.

Come to think of it, why didn’t the woodsman go to Snow White’s father, the King, with tales of the Queen’s nefarious schemes, instead of leaving her to fend for herself. Perhaps dad was off at one of the Crusades, or quelling a revolt of the great unwashed somewhere.

In ‘Cinderella’ – another stepmother, another absent father. No wonder poor Cinders had to wash the floor – her stepmum and older stepsisters were probably out working in factories or selling matches from street corners to earn enough to feed themselves and the missing dad’s daughter.

OK, in the original story the father is actually dead and I suppose that IS a good excuse.

At least they didn’t send Cinders off to die alone in the forest like Hansel and Gretel’s parents did. Not having enough food to divide into four to survive the winter, their dad leads them into the forest and abandons them.

The kids obviously suspect foul play from dad so plan ahead – by dropping a trail of crumbs (food not that scarce, then) and make it back home. Then when their parents finally do get shot of them, they think they find a refuge with a kindly old lady with lots of lollies to eat, only to find this seemingly loveable old granny wants to eat them. If I remember rightly the kids manage to bundle her into the oven, when she shows her true colours.

The parents welcome H and G back into the fold for the obligatory happy ending, probably only because they came back laden with bits of the gingerbread house and joints of roast Gran.

Moral? Life is brutal and hard, and you must be prepared to do anything to survive. Or don’t trust anyone, not even your parents. But what do you do when there is not enough for four to last the winter and no supermarket to buy more from? Maybe that’s what our ancestors did do in the barbaric past.

Rapunzel’s dad never even got a chance to show his devotion, he traded Rapunzel for some radishes before she was even born! But the worst, in my opinion, is Beauty’s father from ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

He starts off okay, doing his best to try to provide for the kiddies (who all seem pretty grown up and should be out providing for themselves) but he fails miserably as a breadwinner, and even mucks up picking a rose for Beauty, earning a death warrant instead unless he allows his daughter to die in his place.

What a dilemma, does he take it like a man? No, he slopes off, and lets his youngest daughter take the rap. Sure, everything turns out sweet in the end, but he wasn’t to know. So, are there any loving dads in fairy tales? What about Little Red Riding Hood’s dad.

Is he the Grimm Brothers heroic woodsman who comes charging in and whacks off the wolf’s head in the end of that story? I don’t know and L.R.R.H.’s mum is not saying. But I ask myself: what was he thinking letting his daughter wander through a wolf infested forest all by herself? Tsk tsk, just a little negligent.

Either the dads aren’t around much in these stories, or when they are, they make a mess of things.

But then if the father was competent, looked after the kids, and kept them out of mischief, there wouldn’t be much of a story! If you are a fairy tale father, you just can’t win.

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