The Witch Must Die by Sheldon Cashdan
How Fairy Tales Shape Our Lives

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Synopsis

What accounts for the enduring charm of fairy tales? The answer, says the author of this enchanting and insightful book, lies in the way these stories help children deal with classic psychological conflicts. The tales do this by projecting the child’s own internal struggle between good and evil onto the battles between the characters in the stories. Cinderella, Rumpelstilskin, and Pinocchio vividly dramatize envy, deceit, gluttony, lust, and sloth, giving children a safe stage on which to confront their own “deadly sins.” When good triumphs over evil, readers also vanquish their sinful tendencies. Cashdan elegantly analyzes how fairy tales speak to human concerns, highlighting the roles played by iconic images like glass slippers and gingerbread houses, stepmothers, and sorcerers. He shows how fairy tales differ from culture to culture (in the Grimm version of Cinderella birds pluck out the stepsisters’ eyes but in Japan the stepsisters apologize and are forgiven); what happens when the tales are “Disneyfied”; and how fairy tales can have a surprisingly salutary effect on adult readers. Along the way he probes the eternal questions: Why does Snow White eat the poison apple? Why is the stepmother so mean? Why is Cinderella’s father never around when she needs him? The Witch Must Die recalls a time in all our lives when fantasy was king and life’s important lessons emerged from magical tales.
 

About Sheldon Cashdan

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Sheldon Cashdan, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Abnormal Psychology, Interactional Psychotherapy, and Object Relations Therapy.
 
Published June 15, 1999 by Basic Books. 304 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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In a thematic survey of the stories the world tells its children, noted psychologist Cashdan (Abnormal Psychology) explores why fairy tales maintain their enduring power.

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