Characterisitic of Fairy Tales
Fairy tales are stories either created or strongly influenced by oral traditions. Their plots feature stark conflicts between good and evil, with magic and luck determining the usually happy endings. While each culture and geographic region of the world has its own body of folk tales and fairy tales that it considers "its own," certain themes and motifs tend to be repeated across many cultures and time periods. Universal human emotions such as love, hate, courage, kindness, and cruelty appear in bold, broad strokes on the canvas of fairy tales.
The following are basic characteristics of fairy tales which have similarities with most cultures:
1. Undefined time and place
"Once upon a time, long ago in a far away place" gives a vague definition of the time and place. We know that it took place no where near us and not in the present, and that eaves the door wide open for anything to happen.
2. No develpment in characters
Cinderella has one good night, but you never find out how it ends, except that they live "Happily ever after." She never does learn to stand up to her evil stepsisters; she simply marries a prince and moves away. So does Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the chick in the tower with the long hair.
3. Transformation & Magic
Transformation and Magic are commony seen in fairy tales. For examples, Cinderella is transformed into a princess; the frog is transformed into a prince, the beast is transformed into a man. They can be under a spell which was cast by a villain, or brought on by their own selfish behavior (as in Beauty and the Beast, wherein the lord of the house was unkind to an old woman who asked for his help.)
And of course, some kind of magic has to take place. A magic coach, broomstick, a wish made possible by a fairy, the kiss of a handsome prince.
4. Happy Ending
Fairy tales have happy endings where the good is rewarded and the evil is punished. Often, something will also be blessed with unusual happiness.