Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Lauren  D'Amico

Link to Lauren D'Amico's Senior Art Thesis

Behavioral Ideals in the Fairy Tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

The Life and Anti-Semitism of Richard Wagner

Jacob & Wilhelm  Grimm

The composer Richard Wagner became the embodiment of the German nationalist spirit through his patriotic compositions, coupled with his vocalized anti-Semitic attitudes. His affiliations with the Nazi party, as well as his Germanic lineage and fervent attitudes towards politics in early life, contributed to his association with anti-Semitism and the Third Reich. His controversial writings regarding the presence of the Jewish faith in music as well as his affiliations with Adolf Hitler further intensified his notoriety and public prestige both as an individual and as a classical composer. The embrace of Aryan ideals and willingness to exemplify these values through his works thus contributed to his contemporary fame as a figure of political controversy and contention in the eyes of both German and worldwide society.

As the musical compositions of Richard Wagner became the embodying symbols of idealistic German culture and mannerisms, the literary works of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm also exemplified German nationalist ideals through their usage of characterization and recurrent themes. Both the composer and the authors produced prolific pieces of art that became the fundamental representations of a superior nation. The fairy tales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm illustrate the themes of idealized masculinity, feminine beauty, and the compliance of youth through the portrayal of distinct gender roles and the submissive attitudes of children towards their elders. The authors depict common elements to serve as expectations of behavioral conformity and representations of idealistic personality traits. Such principles are intended to imbue a sense of culturally accepted behavior through their depictions of idyllic mannerisms and representations of societal ideals.

Major Works Consulted:

Gal, Hans.Richard Wagner.New York: Stein and Day, 1976.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm.Grimmís Fairy Tales. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2003.
Mallet, Carl-Heinz.Fairy Tales and Children. New York: Schocken, 1984.
Padmore, Elaine.The Great Composers: Wagner. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1971.
Photo Credit: Michaelis-Jena, Ruth.The Brothers Grimm. New York: Praeger, 1970.