Difference Between Fairy Tales and Folk Tales (with Table)

Storytelling has been a predominant form of expression of human emotions, imagination, and creativity for years. And to represent various types of imaginative ideas, there are many types of stories. There are epics, there are the poem-story ballads, and then there are the simpler, but no less entertaining fairy tales and folk tales. Over the top of one’s head, one might not find there any difference between these two, however, they both are two separate categories and hence need to be treated that way.

Fairy tales are those which use fictional and often magical characters, such as goblins, elves, witches and warlocks, etc. They are often intended for children. It is, however important to notice that a fairy tale need not necessarily include fairies.

Folk tales, on the other hand, are stories that have been passed down from generation to generation and are bound to some particular demographic, such as a religion, or more commonly, the people of certain land, etc. They are usually the day to day stories, that involve issues of humanity.

The difference between fairy tales and folk tales is that fairy tales involve superficial characters in them while folk tales are the stories that are passed from a generation to another generation, and is bound to a certain demographic.

Comparison Table Between Fairy Tales and Folk Tales

Parameters of ComparisonFairy TalesFolk Tales
DefinitionFairy tales involve magical creatures and talking animals.Stories passed on by generations based on day to day human activities.
DemographicUsually accessible to a wide audience.Usually bound to a particular demographic.
Target AudienceThe main target audience is children.The main target audience is almost everyone.
Author AccreditationThere can be a specific author of Fairy Tales.Folk Tales have no accredited author.
Story BaseStories are based on superficial events.Stories are based on day to day human life, activities, and problems.

What are Fairy Tales?

Fairy tales are those which use fictional and often magical characters, such as goblins, elves, witches and warlocks, etc. They are often intended for children. It is, however important to notice that a fairy tale need not necessarily include fairies.

By fairies, what is meant is about the magical nature and the superficial occurrences in the stories. Although, there might be author accreditation for fairy tales, however, there still exist many fairy tales that have been passed on by generations and have obviously been modified and adapted over time. 

There are many kinds of fairy tales, and most of these types are based on the main character or object that the story has been based on. Some of them are supernatural adversaries, magic objects, supernatural helpers, tales of fate, realistic tales, etc. 

Fairy tales are very important, as it allows free expression of human imagination, and letting the imagination free and wild at times is a very necessary thing to do, as they let the brain exercise, and maintain its faculties properly. Also, it provides a source of thought and simulation for the children who listen or read them, because of its simple nature, yet entertaining storylines.

The most popular fairy tales are Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, etc.

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What are Folk Tales?

Folk tales, on the other hand, are stories that have been passed down from generation to generation and are bound to some particular demographic, such as a religion, or more commonly, the people of certain land, etc. They are usually the day to day stories, that involve issues of humanity, daily life, activities, etc. The word folk is derived from the German word volk which means people.

A major reason why folk tales are so popular is that they are very relatable to the people who listen to it, and people can understand the day to day struggles the characters went through. Especially the common people. Unlike fairy tales, folk tales are still majorly passed down by word of mouth, even though they might have been properly documented. There are several kinds of folk tales.

They are cumulative tales, Pourquoi tales, and noodlehead Pourquoi tales. Cumulative tales are those which have a repetitive plotline, and the story moves ahead by just adding successive additions to the plotline itself. Pourquoi tales are those which try to explain natural phenomena, like sunrise and sunset, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc. using the imagination of the common folk.

This often resulted in mystical stories that are entertaining. Noodlehead stories are those that just have people doing silly things and bring about comic relief. 

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Main Differences Between Fairy Tales and Folk Tales

  1. The main difference between fairy tales and folk tales is that fairy tales involve magical and superficial events while folk tales depict the day to day problems and activities of humans.
  2. Fairy tales are mostly meant for children, while folk tales are meant for everybody.
  3. Fairy tales are widespread in nature, folk tales are usually bound to a certain demographic.
  4. Fairy tales usually have author accreditation, while there is no author accreditation for folk tales.
  5. Fairy tales are based on unnatural occurrences, while folk tales are based on more realistic lines.

Conclusion

Stories are important. Everyone involved in the process, right from the author, the narrator, the listener, and the reader benefit from it. For centuries, stories have been a great source for humans to express their creative aspects and this has helped them to do a lot of stuff, like pass on their messages through generations. We get to know how our ancestors live through stories only. In short, stories bring a whole new world to life.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=HmipAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&dq=fairy+tales&ots=7NY_gul-vb&sig=TWm-PM2R2-q8kiRyrxrWS_aU1-o
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/534740