Moral Short Stories That Might Change Your Life


One might think that fairy tales and bedtime stories are for kids. But studies have found that stories have a great deal of influence on how children interpret culture and gender roles.

While reading at an earlier age does very well for a child’s literacy it also does more to mold said child’s perceptions of reality as they convey values, beliefs, attitudes and social norms.

As we grow older, we move on to literature more suitable for our age or at least what the society deems suitable for our age. Most people are shamed or made fun of when they read or watch something that is not recommended for their age group.

This article aims to encourage readers to set their prejudices aside and to go back and re-analyse the stories they read as a child. Here are four moral stories (fairy tales, bedtime stories, folktales) that changed my life:


1. Cinderella

Most of us, at least once in our lives, would have heard the story of Cinderella and her prince who saved her from her cruel step-mother and step-sister who’d reduced her to their maid in her own home.

To girls, it is their favorite story. Until they grow and begin to resent the story because they start viewing Cinderella, the main character as a weak passive woman who has to be rescued by a prince to escape her misery.

In an age where women are trying to assert their worth characters like Cinderella do not have a place in their world. For a long time, I had disliked the concept of Cinderella. Until I came across a video on YouTube titled “Cinderella: Stop Blaming the Victim” by The Take.

I was blinded by my prejudice and did not see all the wonderful things that Cinderella thought me as a child and hyper-focused on the existence of Prince Charming.

If I were to talk about everything that Cinderella thought me then this article would be much longer than I intended for it to be. For this article, I shall focus on one thing and that is, choice.

Cinderella grew up in circumstances that gave her every reason to be miserable, lonely, bitter and vengeful. The once-beloved daughter of her family with two loving parents was reduced to a maid who wore tattered clothes, isolated in the attic of her own home.

The hands that never worked a day in her life now cleans, cooks and sews to ensure that she has food on her plate and a roof over her head. Any normal person would be devastated and confused by the sudden turn of events.

Domestic abuse is also the backstory of many fictional villains. But Cinderella was different. She was good, kind, generous and forgiving. Even to those who don’t deserve it. She cultivated these character traits in a situation that would not normally allow them to flourish.

She refuses to become bitter. She chose to be kind and loving to those around her. Cinderella is kind to everyone especially those in need and those weaker than her. She is generous even when she has nothing to offer.

Cinderella teaches us that no matter the circumstances, we have choices. We can choose to be bitter and miserable to the people who have wronged us. But we also have the choice to be happy and forgiving to ourselves and others. We can choose not to fall to the level of our tormentors.


2. The Ugly Duckling

The story of the Ugly Duckling is a story for adults and children alike. We are all familiar with the story of the ugly duckling who ran away from home after being constantly bullied for his appearance by his siblings and other animals.

When the duckling realises that it had grown into a beautiful swan it could not believe it. The duckling had always been called ugly and discriminated since it was born therefore it believed that it was ugly.

The other ducks were mean to the duckling because it looked different from them. The mother duck was embarrassed to give birth to the ugly duckling.

“The poor duckling was driven about by everyone; even his brothers and sisters were unkind to him, and would say, “Ah, you ugly creature, I wish the cat would get you,” and his mother said she wished he had never been born.”—The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen (1844).

The story of the ugly duckling is a perfect example of how society recognizes and favors those who pass their standards but neglects those people who seem different in their eyes.

Adults in society must mold the children to be good people. If the mother duck had given the ugly duckling lots of love the duckling would have not left its home. 

As an adult and a parent, it was the duty of the Mother duck to teach her little ducklings to not discriminate and bully their sibling. It was the parent’s failure to love and nurture her child that led the child to run away from its home.

If the adult had embraced the child then all the ducks and the swan would’ve gotten along and lived happily together.

The lesson we learn from the story of the Ugly Duckling: discrimination and judgement can bring down a person’s self-esteem. We must accept and embrace everyone’s differences and create a healthy atmosphere filled with love and acceptance to live happily and peacefully.

Everyone is worthy of love and respect. Do not take away a person’s identity, individuality and self-respect because you cannot accept or understand that they are different from you.

Our society must learn to nurture people who are different. We must strive to become a society that can easily accept difference and treat them as assets instead of something to be looked down on.


3. The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon

The story of Janghwa and Hongryeon might not be familiar to many readers. This is a story I came across while watching a wonderful Korean drama called “It’s Okay Not to Be Okay”.

The story of Janghwa and Hongryeon is a Korean folktale. The fact that it is Korean might seem foreign to many readers but I can assure you that the elements and perhaps the story itself might be something that most readers might find familiar.

The story is about two sisters, Janghwa and Hongryeon. Janghwa and Hongryeon’s mother passed away when Hongryeon the younger sister was five years old. Their father soon remarries. Unfortunately for the sisters, the new wife hated them.

But she hid those feelings until she gave birth to three sons in a row which solidified her position. The step-mother who now had power abused the girls in every way possible. But the sisters never told their father about any of it.

Finally, the stepmother succeeded in killing both sisters. The death of the sisters was followed by several misfortunes befalling the village until a new mayor comes and uncovers the crimes of the stepmother and her sons and punishes them.

Years later the father remarries and on the night of his wedding, he dreams of his daughters who appear in his dream saying that they wish to return to him.

Nine months later, his wife gives birth to twin daughters. The father names them Janghwa and Hongryeon. He loved them very much and they lived happily ever after. 

The story of Janghwa and Hongyreon to me was more or less a mixture of Snow White and Cinderella. But in all these stories there is one element that remains unchanged: the father.

The father is worse than the stepmother who had abused the sisters because he turned a blind eye to their suffering. Even if the sisters never told him of their suffering there is no way he couldn’t have known of what was happening under his roof.

It was his duty as their father to protect them from all adversities but the father in this story turned a blind eye to the abuse his daughters suffered at the hands of the stepmother.

The one who turns a blind eye to the abuse is worse than the abuser. The girls were practically killed by their father.

This is for everyone who had ever turned a blind eye to abuse, not just the father. Anyone who keeps mum and turns a blind eye to abuse is worse than the abuser. You are just as much or even more responsible for the abuse. Do not turn a blind eye to abuse.


4. The Boy Who Cried, Wolf

This story perhaps is a much simpler one. There once lived a shepherd boy who cried “Wolf! Wolf!” every time he got bored looking after his flock of sheep. The villagers would come running to help the boy and his sheep but found no wolf.

The villagers, angry that they had been fooled left. The boy laughed at them. The boy repeated this for a second time. The villagers came again. But when the boy cried wolf the third time after an actual tiger appeared no one came to his aid.

The moral of this story is as simple as it gets. Do not lie. Lying breaks trust. If you are known to be a liar no one will believe even when you speak the truth. It ruins relationships and regaining trust is not easy. So do not lie. Not to yourself not to anyone else.


Written by – Christeena George

Edited by – Adrija Saha

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