The Uses of Enchantment

The Uses of Enchantment : The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales

3.87 (3,417 ratings on Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?


Wicked stepmothers and beautiful princesses ...magic forests and enchanted towers ...little pigs and big bad wolves ...Fairy tales have been an integral part of childhood for hundreds of years. But what do they really mean? In this award-winning work of criticism, renowned psychoanalyst Dr Bruno Bettelheim presents a thought provoking and stimulating exploration of the best-known fairy stories. He reveals the true content of the stories and shows how children can use them to cope with their baffling emotions and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 24mm | 140.61g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0140137270
  • 9780140137279
  • 16,712

Review quote

"Bettelheim argues convincingly that fairy tales provide a unique way for children to come to terms with the dilemmas of their inner lives." --"The Atlantic" "A charming book about enchantment, a profound book about fairy tales." --John Updike, "The New York Times Book Review"" ""A splendid achievement, brimming with useful ideas, with insights into how young children read and understand, and most of all overflowing with a realistic optimism and with an experienced and therapeutic good will." --Harold Bloom, "The New York Review of Books " "Provocative and persuasive." --"Boston Globe"show more

Flap copy

The great child psychologist gives us a moving revelation of the enormous and irreplaceable value of fairy tales - how they educate, support and liberate the emotions of more

About Bruno Bettelheim

Bruno Bettelheim was Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago from 1944 to 1973. He died in more

Review Text

For more than 25 years Bruno Bettelheim has shared his original observations on child development in numerous books and articles. This book (parts of which appeared in The New Yorker) imaginatively explores the importance of fairy tales in the young child's life and the deeper meanings of some of the better-known stories. Fairy tales are essential for children because they acknowledge that good and evil are attractive, that struggle is a crucial part of human existence, that there are advantages to moral behavior. They give assurance that any person - however weak or small - can overcome obstacles and find satisfaction in the effort. By simplifying situations and characters, fairy tales speak directly to the emotional and psychological core of the child. Repeatedly Bettelheim Finds deep psychological significance in seemingly random details: e.g., two brothers as one person with conflicting desires, or a giant undone by a simpleton's cunning. Seeing that story-problems can be resolved enables a child to act out his own inner conflicts through a fantasy life structured and enriched by literary analogy. Bettelheim looks closely at seven of the more famous stories (Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.) and at some of the tales featuring transformations. As always, he writes with authority and a profound respect for children. An invaluable reference for those involved with children and their literature. (Kirkus Reviews)show more
Book ratings on Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X