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The image of the duck submerging its head in the middle suggests a state of absolute introversion, which prevents one from seeing evil “outside.” For, as the fairy tale shows so aptly, to look outward would lead directly to psychic blindness, either because the sight of ugliness leaves behind ugliness in one’s own soul, or because this outside ugliness is a projection of the evil within. Only through absolute concentration on the essential within, by immersion in the depths of his own psyche, does the prince succeed in escaping the Devil. As these examples show, fairy tales take the problem of evil very seriously, and in some, which it has not been possible to cite here, the hero or heroine succumbs tragically to the powers of darkness. Good and evil are represented as primordial principles implicit both in a masculine, spiritual image of God and in a feminine view of nature; and it depends only on small but essential imponderables whether the hero himself, the helpful animal, or some other power, is able to tip the scales in the direction of the good. Here the human virtues are relatively unimportant, the divine-demonic powers of fate have the greater share in the decision. Sometimes we have the impression that fairy tales merely reflect a conflict between opposing images of God or opposing dominants of the unconscious mind. But usually we can discern an attempt to indicate what stands out so clearly in the story we have just been analyzing: that the essential for man is to grasp the principle of individuation in the center of his own psyche; that is, the inner creative germinal point where the progressive tendency toward humanity and wholeness, inherent in both the bright and the dark power of God, strives for fulfillment.

Notes M. Lüthi, Das europäische Volksmärchen (The European Folktale) (Berne, 1947), esp. pp. 89 and 103. 2. In my choice of examples I have confined myself in the main to European fairy tales, but the general principles implicit in my remarks apply also to extra-European tales; national distinctions are more apparent in matters of detail than in the overall themes of the stories. 3. Lüthi, Das europäische Volksmärchen, p. 89. 4. Ibid., pp. 103 and 115f. 1.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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