Of the various types of mythological literature, fairy tales are the simplest and purest expressions of the collective unconscious and thus offer the clearest understanding of the basic patterns of the human psyche. Every people or nation has its own way of experiencing this psychic reality, and so a study of the world's fairy tales yields a wealth of insights into the archetypal experiences of humankind.
Perhaps the foremost authority on the psychological interpretation of fairy tales is Marie-Louise von Franz. In this book—originally published as An Introduction to the Interpretation of Fairy Tales —she describes the steps involved in analyzing and illustrates them with a variety of European tales, from "Beauty and the Beast" to "The Robber Bridegroom."
Dr. von Franz begins with a history of the study of fairy tales and the various theories of interpretation. By way of illustration she presents a detailed examination of a simple Grimm's tale, "The Three Feathers," followed by a comprehensive discussion of motifs related to Jung's concept of the shadow, the anima, and the animus. This revised edition has been corrected and updated by the author.