Suggested Answers to Discussion Questions for "Ever After"
1. Click here for Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film
FAIRY TALES: A VITAL LITERARY GENRE FOR CHILDREN
2. Bruno Bettelheim, a scholar who has studied fairy tales, contends that the dark and threatening figures in fairy tales should not be sanitized; that children make use of them to work through their fears and primitive emotions. Do you agree or disagree? Suggested Response: A good answer will refer to the use of fairy tales as a way to safely explore the situations that children fear.
3. What is the childhood fear that the Cinderella fairy tale explores? Suggested Response: Children fear the prospect of a mother or father's death or disappearance. One component of this fear is the concern that no substitute could love or care for them as completely as their own parents. The fairy tale of Cinderella shows how a girl who had lost her mother was eventually able to get out from under the thumb of an uncaring and wicked stepmother.
4. For a glimpse of the psychological relationship between the cinder girl and the stepmother, see the Quick Discussion Question.
5. Name some other fairy tales and talk about the fears or concerns of childhood that they explore. What about: Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Wizard of Oz, and The Nutcracker? Suggested Response: Here are some interpretations. There are other valid interpretations. Hansel and Gretel: In this story, the parents abandon their children in the forest. This was not unheard of in times of famine in the Middle Ages. It is understandable that vulnerable creatures trying to figure out their world would worry about being abandoned. The children meet a witch in the woods who tries to cook them in an oven (fear of the primeval forest), but the children are able to shove the witch into the oven and to survive. Beauty and the Beast: This can be interpreted as a coming-of-age story for girls. Many young girls, content with a childlike love for their fathers, are confused by the first stirrings of sexual desire. When a girl meets a man or a boy who expresses an interest in them, the stirrings of sexual desire are heightened. Frightened by these new feelings, the girl turns the person who causes them into an obnoxious beast. Now there is no risk of feeling sexual desire, except the beast is still fascinating. Only when the girls mature can they accept the sexual component of love and marry the beast. Sleeping Beauty: In this tale, the fear of sexual maturity, the same fear that powers Beauty and the Beast, causes the young heroine to retreat into sleep from which she can only be awakened by the kiss of the prince (true love). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: This is another tale of an evil stepmother who persecutes a little girl. The Wizard of Oz: Most children wonder about what would happen if their parents died or they were suddenly transported far away from home where their parents couldn't protect them. This fear is enhanced by the contradictory longing to go out into that fascinating but scary world away from home ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow"). Will they meet evil people in that world? Will they be able to triumph over those evil people? What is real in that world? How does the child tell the difference between appearance and reality? The Wizard of Oz allows a child to work through those concerns. The Nutcracker: Children are fascinated by the idea that toys can really come to life. They also have a fear of the underworld of vermin. Another component of The Nutcracker is the coming of age of a young girl who is rescued by the Nutcracker/Prince.
6. Danielle makes a clever bargain with the Gypsies to save Henry's life. She hoists him on her back and carries him away. How does that relate to the Cinderella fairy tale? Suggested Response: This incident turns the usual story on its head. It symbolizes one of the major themes of the movie: that Danielle (the cinder girl) rescues the Prince.
7. What was the year in which the wedding described in this story takes place? Describe how you came to your conclusion. Suggested Response: 1516 appears to be the best date for the events of the marriage of Henry to Danielle because the movie describes the marriage as occurring shortly after Leonardo da Vinci came to France to be an artist at the Court of the French King. History places this date as 1516. However, there are other ways to date the movie. For example, when Danielle was eight years old her father gave her a copy of Thomas More's Utopia which was published in 1515. According to the story, the marriage occurred about ten years later, putting the date of the story at 1525, but by that time Leonardo would have been dead for several years. (He died in 1519.) Another interpretation is based on Prince Henry's year of birth, 1519. Assuming that he was about 20 years old at the time of the marriage shown in the movie, the wedding would have taken place in about 1539. Another way to date the story is sometime in the 19th century because French colonies in the Americas weren't established until then and one of the servants was to be sent there.
8. What was Henry's mother referring to when she cautioned him about finding a wife, "Choose wisely, Henry. Divorce is only something they do in England?" Suggested Response: She was referring to Henry VIII of England (1491 - 1547) who went through six wives. For more on this see notes to response to Comprehension Test Question #8.
9. When Danielle was reproaching Henry for his callous disregard for the French peasants, she said, "They are the legs you stand on!" What did she mean? Suggested Response: Their labor made the wealth that the royal court taxed to support itself.
10. The Portrait of Federigo Da Montefeltro Duke of Urbino and His Son Guidobaldo shows us three things about the Renaissance in Italy. What are they?
Suggested Response: The aristocracy was very wealthy (the clothing worn by the Duke and his son are expensive); (2) their society valued learning (the Duke is reading a book); and (3) their society valued prowess at arms (the Duke is wearing armor).
11. Before Henry got angry at Danielle at the masked ball, what had she been trying to tell him? Why was this important? Suggested Response: Danielle had claimed to be a countess when she met him at the castle as she was buying the old servant's freedom. The issue of one's status was very important because most royalty would never think of marrying a commoner, no matter how intelligent and attractive. Danielle tried to tell Henry that she was not an aristocrat at the monastery and again at the ball, but he would not listen.
Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:
1. Danielle's stepmother frequently tells her that she is ugly and incompetent. At one point Danielle asks: "What bothers you more stepmother? That I am common or that I am competition?" What does this tell you about basing your self-esteem on what others think of you? Suggested Response: A person's attitude toward another is often based not on an objective evaluation of that other person but on the agenda of the person doing the evaluating. The stepmother wanted to make sure that Danielle was no competition for her daughters. If Danielle considered herself plain and incompetent she would be less likely to be seen as attractive by others.
2. What was it that attracted Henry to Danielle? Suggested Response: There are many responses, but a good response will include the fact that she challenged him and had enormous passion and conviction.
Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)
1. Danielle tells one lie in this movie and it is almost her undoing. What was it? Suggested Response: Danielle had to give the impression she was an aristocrat to buy the old servant's freedom. She met Prince Henry at the castle and when he asked her who she was she had to pretend to be an aristocrat. And so, she claimed to be a countess. This was more than just a fib in those days because impersonating an aristocrat was a crime, as was lying to a member of the royal family. It was this lie that enraged Henry so much that for a few moments he forgot his love for Danielle.
(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)
See the Quick Discussion Question.
Last updated April 5, 2008.
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