Gender Issues Within Fairy Tales Essay

1083 words - 4 pages

Gender Issues within Fairy Tales

Why is it that in a time when women were considered an inferior gender, they would become the main characters in fairy tales? One reason could be that fairy tales are one of the few genres created by women. The fairy tale originates in the seventeenth century when aristocratic women would gather in salons and play a game of who could make up the best story. This gave women a chance "to demonstrate their intelligence and education," and "to picture themselves, social manners, and relations in a manner that represented their interests" (Zipes 20). Many of these oral stories were later published by men, and through the years have been rewritten by men.

Perhaps the most popular writers of fairy tales are the brothers Grimm. The women in their renditions are portrayed as either beautiful, tortured women who must find a way out of their situation (usually through the aid of a man) or the woman is the villain who is usually causing the torture for the beautiful woman. The villainous woman is usually a stepmother who embodies "the many faces of maternal evil" (Tatar 140). Also, Tatar states that "instead of functioning as nurturers and providers, cannibalistic female villains withhold food and threaten to turn children into their own source of nourishment, reincorporating them into the bodies that gave birth to them" (140).
This cannibalistic female is seen in tales such as Hansel and Gretel where the old witch lures the children into her house made of candy and tries to cook Hansel for her supper and make Gretel a maid. The female villain, however, is not always a cannibal; "many are experts in the art of weaving spells: these are the witches and enchantresses." (Tatar 141) This type of villain is portrayed as the evil queen in Snow White, who turns herself into an old beggar woman and gives Snow White poisoned gifts. One of the traits of these enchantresses is that they turn men into animals, which "may be read as a telling commentary on women's attitudes toward male sexuality" (146).
The beautiful woman usually embodies good virtues and behaves as a woman of the time period is expected too. They represent the opposite role of the villainous woman because the heroine is all that is good while the villain is all that is bad. The heroines are also usually title characters as is the case of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. These heroines also usually go through torture such as "having her eyes torn out" but is rewarded for her torture as in the same example when the heroine's vision "one year and a day later, are replaced and can see seven times as clearly as before," which makes "the listener feel how suffering can purify and strengthen" (Luthi 144). Another reason for women playing such a key role in fairy tales is the Oedipal complex. In fairy tales the Oedipal complex manifests itself from the female perspective (or the Electra complex)....

Find Another Essay On Gender Issues within Fairy Tales

Salon Tales Essay

1110 words - 4 pages which their authors wrote. Because authors such as Perrault and d’Aulnoy came from the bourgeois class, their versions of traditional fairy tales reflect the social values found within aristocratic literary salons, not the hardships and taboo issues of peasants. The presence of folk origins is prevalent in Salon tales. Elements such as plots, characters, and motifs often run similarly through peasant and Salon versions. For example, both the

Fairy Tales Shape Our Childhood and Our Future

1666 words - 7 pages that were put up against them. This story represents strength and courage in spite of everything and that when you are on your own it does not necessarily mean you are defenseless, you just have more freedom to roam and find your own solutions; that is how you grow up. Growing up means you have to let go of people, even people you are close to, for instance, your mother. Female figures are of utmost importance within fairy tales. They have

Argumentative Research Paper: Should children read fairy tales?

2140 words - 9 pages Fairy tales picture a world filled with magic, love and the triumph of the good over the evil. Fairy tales are a window to other worlds where the wildest dreams can come true and the hero always lives happily ever after preferably paired with his loved one. Although some people argue that fairy tales are full of stereotypes, filled with frightening monsters and promote racism and sexism I believe that they are wrong because fairy tales provide

Sociolinguistics and Fairy Tales; An Integrated Approach to Adult ESL Classroom Practice

1801 words - 7 pages ) ‘Cinderella’s Gold Slipper’ Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House Fonagy, I. (2001) ‘Languages Within Language: An Evolution Approach’ John Benjamins Publishing. Goh, L. (1997) ‘Using Myth, Folktales and Fairy Tales in the Adult ESL Classroom’ Simon Fraser University Kabuto, B. (2009) ‘Colour as a semiotic resource in early sign making’ Early Childhood Research and Practice 11(2) [online] available from

Fairy tales

1118 words - 4 pages in children's lives, and support the gender inequality.First of all, many high intellectuals reveal that fairy tales should be stopped as they immerse the state of rear and terror inside children. In 1903, A German-language educator published a Dutch book entitled, Practice Guidance for the Education at Home. Dr. Karl Oppel was totally opposing the idea of fairy tales and he declared that in his famous anti-fake tales book. The first argument he

The Authors of the Literary Fairy Tale

1272 words - 5 pages elements, their now-forgotten tales were largely more inventive, original and fantastical than their male counterparts - and frequently nastier, too. The Authors of the Literary Fairy Tale In 1634, a cycle of fifty tales was published by Giambattista Basile, in which can be found some of the earliest written versions of familiar stories like "Sleeping Beauty". Basile's tone is bawdy and comic; his narrators within

Fairy Tales and Emile

1563 words - 6 pages Over the course of this semester many different reading materials were presented to the class, which dealt with gender issues, role and characteristics. Each reading presented a different aspect of the development of the ideas of male and female in different time periods. The two readings, which interested me the most, were the Fairy Tales and "Emile". In general, these two readings had very similar views concerning gender roles and

Fairytales and Gender

675 words - 3 pages lives are constrained by gender roles and social mores. This research paper will endeavour to demonstrate how Esperanza’s coming-of-age transition to an empowered Chicana can only be achieved by rejecting the traditional role models fostered by both European and Mexican fairy and folk tales and enacted by the women in her community. It will also examine Esperanza’s role as a budding heroine of a feminist fairytale. The significance of this analysis

The Brothers Grimm

2843 words - 11 pages . "Child abandonment is a many-faceted concept within myth, folktale, and literature," and the Brothers Grimm explored this concept in great detail (Garry, 3). As they began to express themselves through literature, male figures, such as fathers, were often dismissed as the females stole the spotlight in their fairy tales. “Some modern psychologists have argued that [their] harsh family background influenced the ways the Brothers Grimm interpret and

The Fairy-tale of If on a winter's night a traveler

1271 words - 5 pages reader that a fantastic, adventurous story is about to begin. The "Once upon a time" cliche that has dominated the first sentence of fairy-tales in the past is replaced with "So, then, you..." where the actual plot then begins (Calvino 4). The Reader takes the first steps on his quest for a final, complete text. Within those few initial steps, he begins his double quest for his princess, the female reader, Ludmilla. Searching for a complete text

Disney’s Entertainment Empire: Exploiting Innocence

986 words - 4 pages using romance as fantasy that doesn’t need to be questioned by anyone. Disney’s tactical way of appealing to majority allows our society to be blindsided by “special effects”, commercials, and magical aspect of Disney’s tales. Furthermore, Disney utilizes gender by applying sexual and erotic connotation that are observe by young children which are heavily emphasized in stories and fairy tales produced by Disney Productions. Zipes continues his

Similar Essays

Gender Stereotypes In Fairy Tales Essay

1644 words - 7 pages about it because she is too dependent on the man. In conclusion, fairy tales have been around for many generations and will continue to be passed on. Fairy tales have some great qualities about them and others not so great. In these stories genders are stereotyped and society views those stereotypes as the right view of each gender. Females in these stories are beautiful, thin, weak, dependent on others, and emotional. On the other hand males are

Gender Representation Within Fairy Tales: Rapunzel With A Twist!

1069 words - 4 pages Ahh.. And they live happily ever after and once again all is well in the ever-smiling town of NEW YORK??? THINK AGAIN!!!Let me take you back to reality, where tragedy comes as quickly as it goes and happiness isn't always the easiest aspect of life to reach. This is Rapunzels story."Quick, quick, QUICK! You're late! Okay first to makeup then straight up to hair maintenance. Look at this mess! You haven't brushed it in days have you! Rapunzel, do

Fairy Tales Term Paper

845 words - 3 pages Fairy Tales- Then and Now Fairy tales are a type of traditional literature that grew out of the human quest to understand the natural and spiritual worlds and was preserved through time by the oral tradition of storytelling before eventually being written down(Essentials 98). Entering the world of literature towards the end of the seventeenth century, fairy tales have long been enjoyed by all for many years. Traditionally, fairy tales are taught

Fairy Tales Essay

900 words - 4 pages ). Fairy tales sometimes referred to as folk tales are stories that grew out of the lives and imaginations of the people who originally had told them. Today, within this type of traditional literature, plots are often shorter than in other genres because all but the essential details were omitted during countless retellings. Concentrating on action is common in order to keep the audiences alert and interested. The characters in these tales are often