I like fairy tales. Modern adaptations of fairy tales are watered down versions of the original tales, which can be pretty graphic. It can be fun to speculate about the theme in any fairy tale. What is the message behind the story? These stories are meant to be fun but also serve as cautionary tales.
For example, what is the symbolism of the giant, troll or ogre? They serve as a story’s antagonists for sure. But I think these creatures also serve as metaphors for the capricious and dangerous side of the natural world. In the past people were at the mercy of the natural world. Drought, famine, pestilence, blizzard, and flood…people had to defend themselves against the unexpected forces of nature. At times the natural world must have seemed almost alive. And so the ogre symbolizes the dangerousness of the world outside of home.
In today’s modern life nature is not as dangerous as it was centuries ago. We don’t have to worry about having enough harvest to last the winter. Yet, in the modern world we have new worries. Modern worries. Instead of a bad harvest, we worry about losing our jobs, worry about our retirement, fret about paying the bills. We worry about survival just as people did centuries ago, but in a different way.
With our modern anxieties we also have modern fairy tales. Much of popular culture is a modern fairy tale. Horror movies speak to our fears; romantic comedies speak to our dreams. Instead of cautionary tales concerning the precarious nature of life, popular culture offers escapism. Yet the old symbolism still exists in our modern fables, if we look closely enough.