Runner Up, 2011-2012 Best Gateway Essay Contest

Instructor: Holly Hughley


In almost all circumstances, copying the work of others has a strongly negative connotation. In fact, from a very early age, children begin to understand the consequences of mimicking others’ original ideas. It is not uncommon for a little girl to sneak across the street with a neighbor to pick flowers even though her parents had specifically instructed her to stay in their own yard. Upon confrontation, this little girl will likely defend herself by saying, “Well, Jessica was doing it too!” The little girl’s parents would then say, “Will you always just do what Jessica does? If Jessica jumped off of a bridge, would you jump off too?” This phrase is used time and time again to illustrate the fact that copying someone else is certainly not something that is to be rewarded. Why is it, then, that there is so much controversy over defining the term “author?” Copying or stealing the ideas of others is obviously wrong; therefore, it is fair to assume that no professional would claim to be the creator of a work that is essentially copied from another source. A writer cannot be deemed an author unless the work is entirely new and unique. This means that his or her piece of writing is original enough to be easily distinguished from any similar piece; both the plot and characters must be significantly original.

The Grimm brothers are sometimes referred to as authors of modern fairy tales. As childhood logic suggests, the Grimm brothers cannot rightfully be given credit for the original establishment of these recreated tales. The Grimm brothers refer to themselves as collectors rather than authors; however, this is also an inaccurate label. While the Grimm brothers did set out to simply collect and compile Germanic tales, they ended up altering these stories in unique ways. They took on the role of editors as they made significant changes in the tales; however, these changes did not alter the basic structural outline of the stories. In their attempt to collect and preserve tales that represent Germanic culture, the Grimm brothers have emerged as successful editors whose works define the fairy tale genre as it is known today.


English Language and Literature | Rhetoric and Composition