Violence in Children’s Literature and Cartoons

by PammyMcB

Upon careful observation of the cartoons and stories that today’s young adults were raised with, the conclusion has been made that present cartoons are not actually as violent as what today’s parents are all lead to believe. The cartoons being shown today are amazingly tame compared to those that the 80s generation watched as children. In modern day cartoons, a character pulling out a gun and trying to shoot another as we all have witnessed Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd doing on many an occasion is unheard of. Nor is the racism that has often been shown in these cartoons seen. Nowadays, a starving coyote chasing after a bite to eat and hurling over the side of a cliff in the process is no longer created. In many opinions, these cartoons never once provoked violence. In turn, they reflected the violence and feel of the country at the time they were made.

As far as children’s literature goes, no other tales could be as violent as the ones collected by the Brothers Grimm. The original versions were thought to be too violent and vulgar for American audiences and were later cleaned up to become socially acceptable. Through research, a couple of the original versions of the stories have been chosen and will be summarized.

The earliest version of Sleeping Beauty found was in 1636 Italy. Sleeping beauty follows today’s story line fairly close until Talia falls dead from catching a splinter of flax under her fingernail. Her distraught father adorned the home as if it were a crypt and left Talia alone. A king happened upon the home in hopes of finding his prized falcon that he lost while hunting. Instead of the falcon, he found the beautiful young girl, which he raped. The king also left Talia behind. Nine months passed, and her lifeless body gave birth to twins, Sun and Moon. The babes would suckle on the still sleeping girl until one slipped off her breast and sucked on Talia’s finger freeing the flax. Talia awoke. Meanwhile, the king, still haunted from the memory of his pleasure, went out with some of his men to find the girl once again. He was elated to find that Talia was awake and the mother of his children. The king had the three of them moved to his kingdom where he would frequently visit them. The queen became suspicious of the king’s deeds upon hearing the king call out “Talia” in his sleep. The queen forced a servant to tell her about Talia. Furious, she had the cook to serve the king a lavish meal made from his offspring. After the king’s meal, the queen had Talia brought in and stripped. The queen told the king of the contents of his meal and ordered Talia to be thrown in a bonfire. The king cried out as he was sickened by the thought of having dined on his young children. He ordered the servant to let Talia go and to burn the queen in her stead. The king also ordered that the servant that had betrayed him along with the cook to be burned. In an instant, the cook’s wife explains to the king that the cook could not murder the young children. She went to her home and retrieved them sparing her husband’s life. Talia and the king later married, and they all lived happily ever after. The moral to the story is: leaving your sleeping daughters at home alone can result in her rape. However, Talia was pretty lucky in this story. Other fairy tale girls weren’t so lucky.

Little Red Riding Hood was a French tale in which the earliest version was put to paper in 1697. This story pretty much stays along the story line that we all know today, however there are some gruesome, vulgar differences. Little Red Riding Hood was the most beautiful girl in her region. A wolf saw her on a journey to her grandmother’s house to deliver a basket that her mother had prepared. He approached her and tricked her into telling her destination. The wolf took a short cut through the woods. He tricked the grandmother into letting him in and he devoured her. Upon her arrival, Little Red Riding Hood let herself in. She called out to her grandmother. The wolf answered that he was in the bedroom and felt ill. Little Red Riding Hood went into the bedroom, removed all of her clothing and crawled into bed with the wolf. They went through the entire ‘what big’ bit. However, instead of ‘what big legs you have’, she said, “what a big penis you have.” He in turn said, “the better to have sexual intercourse with.” They then had sex. Upon completion, they started back up with the ‘what big’ bit. She got to the teeth and he eats her. The end! That is it, no more. There was no hunter with an axe to rescue her and her grandmother. The moral to the story is: young women beware and leery of gentlemen that you do not know. They could be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Now, these stories did not cause people to become violent, instead they warned young women of the dangers of everyday life. Had the stories remained the same, could it be possible that the outcome of the violence in the world could be different. Young women today have no fear in them. They walk alone down city streets never to be seen or heard from again. If the stories remained as their originals, parents would be more leery of leaving their children at home alone. They would walk alongside their children in city streets. There would be less abductions and in turn a reduction of violence. Instead, today, young women are taught that they do not need anyone and can do everything on their own and by themselves. This is not an entirely bad message to put out to them. However, because our children are sheltered from the possibilities of violence in this world, they are being put at greater risk. Be honest with your babes and let them know what can happen if they do not take proper precautions. Also, make sure you always know where they are going and whom they are with. Fear is not a bad thing. It does not tend to make one weaker, in turn it can make you wiser. A wiser person is a stronger person.

Research done via An Underground Education by Richard Zacks.