Imagined Spaces: Forests and the Fairy Tale World


The following is taken from a conference paper I presented at the Imagined Spaces conference at the University of Bristol in 2015.

Fairy tales occupy an imaginative space in which they present a moral or social lesson by means of a series of simplified signifiers. Their locations are demonstrably not of this world, but rather contrived symbols of social expectation. Such locations in Grimm’s fairy tales are central to the way in which the stories construct a mythic realm in which geographical location is indicative of morality, social function and psychological state.


Fairy tales are constructed of a limited number of locations, which can be categorised into three main types: the safe spaces, usually of the home or village of the hero or heroine; the unsafe spaces, such as the witch’s cottage, or Bluebeard’s mansion; and the liminal spaces, the main one…

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