Fairy Tales vs Folk Tales: Difference and Comparison

Storytelling has been a predominant 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, poem-story ballads, and then the simpler but no less entertaining fairy tales and folk tales. Over the top of one’s head, one might not find any difference between these two. However, they are two separate categories and need to be treated that way.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fairy tales are stories with magical or mythical elements, involving fairies, witches, and talking animals; folk tales are stories passed down orally through generations, reflecting cultural beliefs and values.
  2. Fairy tales have a clear moral message and a happy ending, geared towards children; folk tales can have more complex themes and endings and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
  3. Fairy tales have a specific author and are written down; folk tales have anonymous origins and are transmitted orally.

Fairy Tales vs. Folk Tales

Fairy tales involve stories of magic and myths, with creatures like fairies, unicorns, etc. Fairy tales are meant to teach some moral lessons to children. Folk tales are stories that are passed down from generation to generation. These stories are less formal and related to life events.

Fairy tales vs Folk tales

Fairy tales use fictional and magical characters, such as goblins, elves, witches, warlocks, etc. They are intended for children.

It is, however, important to notice that a fairy tale need not necessarily include fairies. On the other hand, folk tales are stories passed down from generation to generation. They are bound to some particular demographic, such as a religion or, more commonly, the people of certain land.

They are the day-to-day stories that involve issues of humanity.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFairy TalesFolk Tales
DefinitionFairy tales involve magical creatures and talking animals.Stories passed on by generations are based on day-to-day human activities.
DemographicUsually accessible to a wide audience.Folk tales are bound to a particular area.
Target AudienceFairy tales are written with the target Children as the main audience.People of all ages read folk tales; hence, they are written while keeping everyone as the target.
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 use fictional and magical characters, such as goblins, elves, witches, warlocks, etc. They are intended for children.

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It is, however, important to notice that a fairy tale need not necessarily include fairies. By fairies, what is meant is 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 generations have passed on and have 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 on which the story has been based.

Some of them are supernatural adversaries, magic objects, supernatural helpers, tales of fate, realistic tales, etc. Fairy tales are very important, as they allow free expression of human imagination, and letting the imagination free and wild at times is necessary, 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 to or read them because of its simple yet entertaining storylines. The most popular fairy tales are Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, etc.

fairy tales

What is Folk Tales?

On the other hand, folk tales are stories passed down from generation to generation. They are bound to some particular demographic, such as a religion or, more commonly, the people of certain land. They are 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 them, and people can understand the day-to-day struggles the characters go through.

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

This resulted in mystical stories that were entertaining. Noodlehead stories have people doing silly things and bringing about comic relief. 

folk tales

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. In contrast, 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; folk tales are bound to a certain demographic.
  4. Fairy tales have author accreditation, while folk tales have no author accreditation.
  5. Fairy tales are based on unnatural occurrences, while folk tales are based on more realistic lines.
Difference Between Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
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

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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