Natasha taught English as a Second Language for five years. They have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from St. Mary's University in Halifax, NS, Canada and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Concordia University of Texas in Austin, Tx, US. They also have a diploma for Teaching English as a Second Language from St. Mary's University in Halifax, NS, Canada.
The History of Fairies
The term fairy dates back to the Middle Ages in European folklore. Beginning to appear in both written and oral literature, fairies play a significant role in many stories from different cultures and religions around the world. Fairies are seen from the Sanskrit Gandharva to the nymphs of Greek mythology and Homer, and the jinni of Arabic mythology. While the word fairy is derived from old French, there is no exact source to trace these creatures back throughout history to pinpoint a specific origin. However, some scholars believe that fairies were pagan deities forced to suppress their traditions by Christian missionaries. As the acceptance of Christianity grew, fairies were changed from deity status to magical creature status to preserve their traditions. Other scholars argue that fairies are a prehistoric race of people. They claim that fairies inhabited Western Europe until they were driven out by the Celts and eventually changed into legend. The fairies that most people think of today are a conglomeration of various Celtic and Germanic traditions.
A fairy is a category of faerie or a fae. A mythical or legendary creature is a good way to describe a fae's meaning. Fae is a shortening for the early modern English word faerie, which meant "realm of the fays" and referred to a multitude of creatures and worlds, including fairies, mermaids, and other supernatural creatures and entities. These entities were generally metaphysical or spiritual in nature. Many fairies and fae are featured in myths, stories, legends, folktales, fairytales, and artwork.
What is a Fairy?
What is a fairy, and are fairies evil?
In general, a fairy is a creature with humanlike, fluid personality characteristics. Some fairies are helpful, while others are mischievous, and others are evil. Like humans, fairies have quite diverse personality traits. Some different fairies include:
- Disney Fairies
- Disney largely influences how North Americans view fairies. Disney usually depicts their fairies as pixies, which are tiny and humanlike, with butterfly wings. This is captured in two ways, and both kinds of these fairies are helpful. The first way is as a fairy godmother, like in the tale Cinderella. A fairy godmother arrives just in time to save the protagonist from anguish and grants them wishes so that they can fulfill their destiny. The other way that Disney depicts their fairies is through a trusty sidekick to the protagonist, such as Tinkerbell from Peter Pan. Her magic grants Peter Pan and his companions the ability to fly so long as the children truly believe in Tinkerbell's magic. These characters are significant because they are usually the magical element of the films. However, these types of characters have influenced how fairies are viewed in America. This is because no matter where the fairy is seen, it is usually depicted in a Disney-style fashion.
- Trickster Fairies
- These fairies are usually merely mischievous but can also be adventurous. William Shakespeare wrote world-renowned plays during the late 16th and 17th centuries. Many of his plays included a magical aspect. Some of those plays had fairies as the magical aspect. A Midsummer Night's Dream has one of the most popular fairy characters, Puck, who also happens to be a trickster-like fairy. He changes Nick Bottom's head into that of an ass, spoils milk, changes shape, and misguides travelers. Puck is significant because he provides comic relief while causing chaos throughout the play.
- Changeling Fairies
- Perceived as evil, these faerie children are well-known and feared throughout Europe. People believed that their children were kidnapped and that a sick or distorted changeling was left in their place. Perhaps, what is most significant is that these fairies change the fate of those that are affected by their thievery and magic.
What Do Fairies Look Like?
Early pictures of ancient fairies look like elves or trolls, some being extraordinarily striking while others were disgustingly malformed or misshapen. Although some fairies were tall like adult people, most were childlike in size. However, they may also have very distinguishable traits or a combination of traits that humans do not possess, such as green or blue skin, no nose, pointed ears, webbed fingers and toes, and wings. Once the Romantic Period began, ugly fairies became a thing of the past. They were replaced with beautiful fairies that had deeper connections with humans. Other characters in a story would likely perceive fairies as a friend and not a foe based on their appearance.
Fairies in Folklore and Literature
Fairies are legendary creatures. They have prevailed throughout centuries and continue to thrive today, including in novels like Narnia by C.S. Lewis. In this book, fairies can be seen alongside other mythical and magical creatures, like giants, dryads, and other folkloric creatures. Fairies have a prevalent presence and an impact on folklore, literature, and the arts.
- Folklore is more than things that people believe to be untrue or old-fashioned. In fact, it is a part of people's "cultural DNA." These legends or fables are passed down through generations. Some of the earliest recordings of fairies were written in the 11th century.
- In the 17th century, fairies received their own literature category: Fairy tales. Both The Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson were renowned for using fairies in their writing. Fairies were extremely popular, and the mania slipped into paintings and art during the Victorian Era.
- Depicting fairies with wings was common in Victorian Era artwork. However, it is very rare for fairies to have wings in folklore. Fairies were not always depicted as sweet, nature-loving creatures either. Also, during the Victorian Era, Richard Dadd's paintings illustrated that fairies could have sinister and malevolent tones.
Examples of Fairies
Fairy characters are represented in both movies and stories. Some examples of characters that are fairies include:
- The Wicked Fairy — This is the fairy from the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty. The Wicked Fairy sets out to cause mischief for Aurora, the princess. She casts a spell that causes Aurora to fall into a deep, long sleep.
- Morgan le Fay — From the legend of King Arthur, Morgan le Fay is known as a powerful enchantress. She was skilled in healing and shape-changing.
- King Arthur — Even Arthur himself from later stories based on Le Morte d'Arthur had ties to the fairy world. He was crowned by the fairies and taken to the fairy realm of Avalon upon his death.
- Tinkerbell — This fairy forever changed the way most people perceive fairies, especially nowadays. In 1911, JM Barrie published Peter and Wendy. This story introduces a tiny, glowing, and winged fairy that helps the protagonist Peter on his adventures. Later on, Tinkerbell became even more recognizable because of her green dress and feisty personality, which is shown throughout the Disney movie Peter Pan.
Fairies, a classification of faerie or fae, are usually small magical creatures that mainly look like humans. However, there are a few exceptions to their appearance like wings, webbed hands and feet, green or blue skin, pointed ears, and no nose. Fairy folklore dates back centuries to the Middle Ages in Europe. Today, many cultures and religions are shaped and influenced by these centuries-old stories.
There are different types of fairies that can be seen throughout literature and art. Some of those types are Disney fairies, trickster fairies, and changeling fairies. Most North Americans think of Disney fairies when asked what a fairy looks or acts like. Tinkerbell is a pixie and is one of the most recognizable Disney fairies, even though she was described in literature much earlier in 1911 by JM Barrie. Trickster fairies cause chaos and mischief. However, they are generally not sinister, like Puck, from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Changeling fairies were evil and feared due to their nature of replacing children unsuspectingly with more meager versions of the child. The sinister nature of fairies is also shown in Richard Dadd's paintings and other Disney movies such as Sleeping Beauty.
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What do fairies do?
Fairies can do many things, but it usually involves magic. Some fairies are helpful, while some are mischievous, and others are sinister.
What are different types of fairies?
There are many different types of fairies. Some examples are pixies, sprites, trolls, nymphs, brownies, tricksters, and elves. Most people will also think of Disney fairies as well.
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