The most interesting thing about classical fairy tales is not the magic of make-believe. Rather, it’s the life lessons learned from the stories.

I grew up enjoying classical fairy tales. I sat at my grandmother’s side conjuring images of the characters as the story played out, I was mesmerized by stories of love and adventure. And so, these tales stayed with me throughout my childhood. I even told some of the same classical fairy tales to my children as well.

Lessons learned from fairytales

Classical fairy tales, however, are more than just magical creations. Deep within the images and words lies a deeper meaning than the story itself. There are profound lessons woven between the princes and princesses, the forest animals and the dragons. There are many of these life lessons.

1. Cinderella

I will start with this one because it actually includes a few life lessons derived from different versions of the tale. For starters, the modern Cinderella that most of us remember is packed with lessons about strength and respect.

For instance, we see Cinderella living with three stepsisters who mistreat her. Cinderella is left to do work as the stepsisters enjoy going out and socializing. This modern tale teaches us that we should stand up for ourselves and demand the respect we deserve.

Older versions of Cinderella, like the “Donkeyskin” version and the story, told in ninth-century China, displays the strength of women and how Cinderella was able to take the tragedy of her life and transform it into something beautiful.

A life lesson for us all in these tales is to be strong, stay focused and fight for what you deserve, even if you are a minority like a woman.

2. Little Red Riding Hood

This classic fairy tale has a clear and precise life lesson attached to it. This lesson isn’t meant to be taken literally, but symbolically. In the story of Red Riding Hood, we see a wolf which tries to lure the protagonist with his diabolical plans because he is hungry. In the tale, the wolf is dressed in sheep’s clothing.

You may have heard the expression, “she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing” before. You see, what it means is that the subject of conversation is not what they seem. This tale teaches us to be smart and look beneath the surface when getting to know someone. Not everyone is what they appear.

3. Rapunzel

How about this one for a life lesson. This classic fairy tale shows us how to use our ingenuity. In the story, as most of you know, Rapunzel is trapped in the tower. She uses her long tresses as a way to climb down to safety. Although this tale is rather fantastic in nature, it teaches us a valuable lesson for modern times.

When we think there is no way out of a situation because of the lack of tools or ideas, sometimes a magical thing happens in our brains. We often come up with an unconventional way to solve the problem. This teaches us to be creative and think outside the box in order to survive or simply solve a problem.

And then there’s the lesson about the whole “Happily Ever After” possibility, but this time we’re looking for deeper meaning, right? Lol

4. Three Little Pigs

Most children and adults know the story about the 3 little pigs. Well, even so, they may not know the hidden life lesson derived from this tale.

One lesson that can be taken from this story is about slothfulness. As the story goes, three little pigs build one house each. One of these houses is built from brick, one from wood and one from straw. Now doesn’t that sound productive?

Here comes the trauma. The big bad wolf came to eat the pigs, and so he decided to “huff and puff and….blow their houses down” He was successful with all but one of the houses and you can guess the fate of those two pigs. Well, the third pig who built his house from brick was saved because his house was much sturdier.

The lesson from this story is that if you are lazy and decide to take shortcuts, use cheaper materials and just not do a good job, then guess what? Disaster!

5. Rumpelstiltskin

This is one of the strangest classical fairy tales around. What this story teaches is that no one should make rash decisions about serious issues. Although the information and what you see may look good, it can be filled with lies and misconceptions. Also, one day you could realize that you bit off more than you could chew…figuratively, of course.

Here’s how the tale transpired: The miller, wanting to impress the king, promised him that his daughter could spin straw into gold. So, the king imprisoned the miller’s daughter and said, “If you can’t spin all this straw surrounding you into gold, then you will die”.

Rumpelstiltskin appeared and told the girl that he could spin the straw into gold for a price. Once he did it, and she gave him her necklace, twice he did it and she gave him her ring, but on the third time, he asked for something more…her first born child.

She signed an agreement quickly, but when she had her child, she couldn’t live up to the contract…and so the tale changes course. She is eventually freed from her binds by guessing Rumpelstiltskin’s name. Whew, that could have been much worse. Think twice before you act. Remember that!

6. The Little Mermaid

Now, you may have only seen the movie of this one, but it’s completely different from the original story. One of the first versions of this tale shows us that no matter what we do, how we look or our talents, we may not ever capture our heart’s desire.

Unlike the happy ending from the movie, with the mermaid marrying the prince, the story leaves us sad for the little mermaid. In the story, she leaves the water, her family, and even gives up her ability to sing, just to be with the man she loves.

Unfortunately, the little mermaid witnesses this same man marrying someone else. She throws herself back into the sea…I will leave it at that. So, you see, even if you love someone with all you have, you cannot make them love you back if they don’t share your feelings.

Classical fairy tales are powerful

The truth is classical fairy tales make us better people. They help us become resilient, kind and even more intelligent. Reading these stories may have been entertaining in childhood, but now they are so much more.

If you ever feel the need to be inspired and motivated, try reading a classic fairy tale. You might be surprised by how well they work.



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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tammy

    Great article. Nursery rhymes also hold life lessons. One of my favorites being, ” row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, marrily, marrily, life is but a dream”. I try to keep this in my head when life becomes a struggle and I seem to be surrounded by rapids. If I remain “gentle” (calm), and just keep rowing, the water will also become calmer eventually. And, life is nothing but a dream. It is our interpretation of this dream that makes it joyful or terrorizing.

    When the nightmare of being thrown out of the boat has me swimming for shore, I just remember, all I have to do is keep my nose above the water, get to the shore, reflect, and build a better boat. This life is what I make of it, and I have built many boats.

    When the dream of floating down a lazy river, sun shinning, birds singing, has me filled with the peaceful joy of being, I take it all in and rejoice at all that I am being given at that moment. The scenery breathtaking, and the peacefulness fills the soul.

    1. Sherrie


      What a nice thought. I needed this today. Thank you for reading.

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