What is a Fractured Fairy Tale? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 What Is a Fractured…
  • 1:15 Fairy Tale Parodies
  • 1:53 Fractured Fairy Tales
  • 4:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Krista Langlois

Krista has taught language arts for 14 years. She has a master's degree in teaching and loves researching, reading, and introducing others to the wonders of literature and language.

Most of us heard about fractured fairy tales in elementary school. However, most of us learned about them wrong! This lesson will give a definition of a fractured fairy tale, give some examples, and explain the difference between fractured fairy tales and parodies.

What Is a Fractured Fairy Tale?

Think of the word 'fractured.' What do you picture in your mind? Bones cracked and broken? Pieces of a shattered heart? Regardless, we all know that something fractured must be put together. Much like a bone that must be re-broken to set, fractured fairy tales are broken apart to be set back together.

The most basic definition of a fractured fairy tale is a rewritten fairy tale. Considering the fairy tale genre started out as oral, every retelling that tweaked the story even the smallest bit would be fractured. For example, Little Red Riding Hood has been retold hundreds of times over the years, but the fracturing of fairy tales really started when we began writing them down. Once they became literary in this way, things started changing, and written stories became longer, taking on literary motifs, symbolism, themes, etc.

The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales describes two variations of fairy tales. Parodies humorously mock the fairy tale genre and individual tales, while fractured fairy tales reformat the tale to include more serious current morals and social messages. We see that there are clearly two sub-genres: parodies and fractured.

Fairy Tale Parodies

Most people are more familiar with the parody version of fairy tales. If you're old enough, you'll remember Bugs Bunny and the ridiculous retelling of some fairy tales in Looney Tunes style. Even more so, the parody fairy tales in the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show will make you hurt from laughing. Here are a couple other examples:

  • The Frog Prince Continued, the prince wants desperately to be a frog again when his life is not as wonderful as he thought it would be.

  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, in which the wolf works to convince us that he is the good guy, that he was framed, and that after accidentally killing the pig, it would have been wrong to waste such good dinner fixings!

Fractured Fairy Tales

Fractured fairy tales move stories toward reformation. Originally, fairy tales were meant to keep folks out of trouble and danger. Don't talk to strangers, don't go into the woods alone, don't take apples from strangers, etc. They taught simple lessons for staying alive. As our world has turned, so have our responsibilities in teaching right from wrong and good from bad, and keeping our people safe. Fractured fairy tales continuously keep these ancient stories changing to reflect the modern world's morals.

There are many wonderfully written fractured fairy tales ranging from appropriate for little kids to rated for mature audiences. Here are a few examples for all ages:

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