Interpretation of Fairy Tales

In terms of Jung’s concept, every archetype is in its essence unknown psychic factor and therefore there is no possibility of translating its content into intellectual terms.

The best we can do is to circumscribe it on the basis of our own psychological experience and from comparative studies, bringing up into light, as it were, the whole net of associations in which the archetypal images are enmeshed.

The fairy tale itself is its own best explanation; that is, its meaning is contained in the totality of its motifs connected by the thread of the story.

The unconscious is, metaphorically speaking, in the same position as one who has had an original vision or experience and wishes to share
it.

Since it is an event that has never been conceptually formulated he is at a loss for means of expression.

When a person is in that position he makes several attempts to convey the thing and tries to evoke, by intuitive appeal and analogy to familiar material, some response in his listeners; and never tires of expounding his vision until he feels they have some sense of the content.

In the same way we can put forward the hypothesis that every fairy tale is a relatively closed system compounding one essential psychological meaning which is expressed m a series of symbolical pictures and events and is discoverable in these.

After working for many years in this field, I have come to the conclusion that all fairy tales endeavour to describe one and the same psychic fact, but a fact so complex and far-reaching and so difficult for us to realize in all its different aspects that hundreds of tales and thousands of repetitions with a¬†musician’s variations are needed until this unknown fact is delivered into consciousness; and even then the theme is not exhausted.

This unknown fact is what Jung calls the Self, which is the psychic totality of an individual and also, paradoxically, the regulating center of the collective unconscious.

Every individual and every nation has its own modes of experiencing this psychic reality. ~Marie-Louise Von Franz, Interpretation of Fairy Tales, Page 1-2