In Hansel and Greta (note the name change), Winterson gives us children in despair at the destruction of their forest to make way for a railway line. The antagonist is a nasty aunt called GreedyGuts, who says that “the point of life is to eat as much as possible, make as much money as possible, go on holiday as much as possible … buy two new cars every year, a jacuzzi in the garden, and a Luxury Level Executive Home… ” Hansel and Greta, of course, triumph, plant trees, and all is right with the world.
In Solnit’s Cinderella Liberator, meanwhile, the eponymous heroine and the prince decide to be friends, and she opens her own cake shop, above which she houses hungry, frightened children “running away from the wars in other kingdoms”.
How strikingly imaginative.
And now to reveal the actual secret of fairy tales:
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”