Adventure into the Forest: An Ecocritical Analysis of the Grimm Tales


  • Brian Radford


In their fairytales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm depict nature as dualistic, a menacing place full of exotic creatures, witches, and fantastical elements. They explore cultural explanations of nature as dealing with both the dangers and wonders found within the veil of forests. Often discussed amongst ecocritical scholars as presenting either a utopian ideal or a perilous place, the Grimm tales depict a correlation of both extremes by examining the extraordinary chaotic world in nature. This duality alludes to both the fears of the unknown and the hidden fantastical creatures or magical witchcraft found within. The view of chaos in nature can explore the fantasies of children's imagination and dangers beyond the safety constructs found in modern society. This paper offers an ecocritical perspective of the Grimm's tales to analyze their representation of nature as both a utopian ideal and a perilous environment of death and witchcraft. The intersection of this binary provides an understanding of the concerns dealing with the unknown chaos found in nature. In the forest lies both awe and mystery for the characters to explore in specific Grimm tales. I argue the use of this motif in fairy tales takes the reader from the structure of society into the chaotic world within the forest where magic and wonder preside. This duality construct allows our curious minds to interpret the inner fight or flight when approaching the natural world as presented in the Grimm children's stories.