As Jack Zipes explains in his preface to Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the
Fairies and the Elves, “The Victorian fairy-tale writers always had two ideal audiences in
mind when they composed their tales – young middle-class readers whose minds and morals
they wanted to influence, and adult middle-class readers whose ideas they wanted to
challenge and reform” (xiv). “It was through the fairy tale,” he continues, “that a social
discourse about conditions in Victorian England took form, and this discourse is not without
interest for readers today” (xi).