My Reflections: Donald Haase

Once again, I must greatly express my deepest gratitude to Lehigh University and the English Department for allowing me to meet and speak with yet another author. Mr. Donald Haase, a man with a dry sense of humor and a knack for elaborate analysis of the art of storytelling, came to speak at Lehigh about his study of the Grimm Brothers’ Fairytale stories and how they impact the roles of society and children’s perception.

Mr. Haase spoke of many different roles the Grimm Brothers have played in the way society and morality have been shaped. He made references to Red Riding Hood’s original tale of a girl who disobeys her mother and suffers the consequences. He expounds on the idea that the Grimm Brothers’ original work addressed the need for morality in society. Much of the Grimm Brothers’ work has been transformed to fit the roles of a particular society in which the text is read. I recall the first time I read author Stephen King’s essay titled, “Now You Take “Bambi” or “Snow White”- That’s Scary!” and I immediately correlated the ideas Haase spoke about. It explains the purpose of transforming the Grimms’ writings. Many readers of the Grimm brothers’ work believed children should not have been learning that Rapunzel’s prince only climbs the castle walls, using her locks, for a late night rendez-vous. Haase speaks with intention when he explains the multiple roles the brothers have in mainstream media and fictional works today.

Much of Haase’s presentation focused on the ways the Grimm brothers’ lives have been romanticized through media outlets. He conveys a message that was present in the Grimm brothers’ lifetime and is still prevalent today: the romanticism of real issues to convey a more socially acceptable idea. I’m sure many people who work as artist of all mediums can relate to the ideas of being told what is socially acceptable to display and what is not. In following what society believes as correct or morally justifiable, artists are able to make money and sell their work to the masses. The Grimm brothers’ focused their original works on adult audiences, as Haase told us, but were willing to adjust their works because it would allow the tales to transcend all audiences and create an aura of fame for them. The collective work of the Grimm brothers, and I hope Haase would agree with me when I say this, has shaped the way many scholars, artists, and people view the society they dwell within. It has taught them to cope or understand barriers created against them in a constructed normalcy.