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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
CapriUni BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales (228* d) RE: BS: CapriUni's blog: disability in folktales 09 Oct 11

Here's a question I've been rolling around in my head for a while (just like Tigger, rolling around the thistles, when he's trying to learn what food he likes best):

Should I include depictions of the Elderly as depictions of Disability, if the symbols of Disability (walks with a crutch or cane, has palsy in the hands or head, etc.) are serving a greater purpose as a symbol for Advanced Age?

For example: in the opening scene of The Winter's Tale there are these lines:

I very well agree with you in the hopes of him: it
is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the
subject, makes old hearts fresh: they that went on
crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to
see him a man.

Would they else be content to die?

Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should
desire to live.

If the king had no son, they would desire to live
on crutches till he had one.

I've seen it argued that Shakespeare isn't really talking about the quality of life of "the Disabled," but is simply using "went on crutches" as a short-hand code for "very old," in the same way walkers (walking frames) are used as a gag reference to the elderly by modern comedians.

On the other hand, if part of the bias against the elderly (the reason to poke fun at them) is that they become disabled as they age, doesn't that count as depictions of the Big D "Disability" in folk tales?

And boy-howdy! if I included folktales that specifically mentioned an old woman's cane or crutch, the number of relevant stories would shoot through the roof (O Hai thar, nearly every depiction of fairy tale witches!).

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