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Gender Roles In Cinderella Essay

1611 words - 6 pages

Throughout history, fairy tales have captivated the hearts and minds of fans and critics alike. While fans applaud the underlying morals of fairy tales, critics point out the negative effects these tales have in the socialization of children. Modern adaptations of fairy tales, as well as original versions, all place negative gender expectations on women. Providing cultural and socio-historical information, fairy tales have helped to perpetuate stereotypical thoughts on the "ideal virtues" of women. Natural beauty, obedience to the husband, and dedication to the maintenance of the home are all standards for women modeled throughout different versions and adaptations of fairy tales. Cinderella, one of the most popular fairy tales with countless versions, reflects gender expectations on women in vastly different societies and settings. It's storyline revolves around the idea that women are beautiful, vulnerable, passive, and obedient. Furthermore, Cinderella provides another example in fairy tales where the heroine of the story must be "rescued" by a man of princely ways and helped by the forces of nature. Using examples from Cinderella, it is evident that women's portrayals in fairy tales have placed gender expectations on the ideals and characteristics of heroines throughout history.In numerous versions, Cinderella essentially keeps the same form, differing only in small details like the harshness of the stepsisters and their punishments. In all versions, the tale begins by relating the initial situation. The first introduction is that of the heroine, Cinderella. She is beautiful, kind, obedient, and passive. The death of her mother is revealed, and the ugly and evil stepmother and stepsisters are brought in. Now the mistreatment of the heroine is shown as Cinderella is forced to live in poor conditions while the others have a luxurious life. The dilemma of the story comes next, as the heroine cannot attend the royal ball since she is so poor and dirty. Her character is reaffirmed as she nevertheless helps her evil stepsisters prepare for the ball. After her sisters leave for the royal palace, Cinderella is shown helplessly crying alone. Then, with the help of a magical force, she acquires beautiful clothing and jewelry and transportation to the ball. Here, the prince is mesmerized by her beauty and falls in love. After a splendid evening, Cinderella must leave the ball because the magical force will be gone after midnight. The next night, Cinderella again attends the royal ball and has a wonderful time. However, she forgets her restrictions of time and as the clock rings midnight, she runs out. In her haste home, she loses one of her glass slippers which is found by the prince. The prince vows to marry the woman whose foot fits the slippers, and all the women anxiously await their chance to try it on. The prince arrives at the house, and after the stepsisters fail to fit the slipper, Cinderella's foot slides easily in. When Cinderella removes the...

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