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Gender Stereotypes In Fairytales Essay

1279 words - 5 pages

Shrek, an enormous, disgusting green ogre falling in love with a beautiful princess (later turning into a nasty ogre) is a perfect example of a stereotypical fairytale, right? Well in the movie Shrek, the voice over in the trailer talks about a “hero” attempting to rescue a “fair princess” with the help of “his trusty companion." Besides the fact that the hero is a voluptuous green ogre and the companion is a donkey, everything fits in normally to the definition of a traditional fairytale (Diaz). Also according to Mary Kunimitsu, in fantasy films “There may be characters with magical or supernatural abilities such as witches, wizards, superheroes, mythical creatures, talking animals, and ghosts” (Kunimitsu). In Shrek, there are many of these different characters. Therefore, by explanation, a traditional fairytale with the beautiful princess getting saved by the prince and falling in love is exactly what happens in the movie Shrek, just with a twist. The voice over in the trailer for Shrek states it perfectly as he says “Shrek is a highly irreverent take on the classic fairytale” (Adamson). As an untraditional fairytale, and a parody, the movie Shrek poses the breaking of stereotypes of gender and film fairytales all the while keeping the criteria of a fairytale.
The original Disney fairytales portray their princesses as beautiful, elegant, and very ladylike. Although this is portrayed in most fairytales, it is not a qualifying factor to determine if a film is a fairytale or not. In the movie Shrek, Princess Fiona starts out as a very stereotypical girl, but as the movie progresses, she becomes more comfortable and starts to break these stereotypes. For example when Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey are walking back through the woods Fiona gets in a fight and fights off all the bad guys. After Fiona gets into a brawl, Shrek proclaims “you’re not exactly what I expected”. Another example see figure 1.1, is when Fiona burps out loud in front of Shrek and Donkey. Donkey’s response to this is “Shrek, she’s as nasty as you are”.
figure 1.1
During this scene both Shrek and Donkey are astounded. This is exactly what the breaking of stereotypes is, whenever someone acts outside of what is generally accepted as normal. In most fairytales the princess is ladylike and behaves normally, but as stated earlier the criteria of a fairytale does not consist of how a princess should act. The gender norms say that women should follow how a stereotypical princess acts, but as Diaz says, stereotypes are just “overgeneralized observations believed to be true” (Diaz). While showing these films and their stereotypes, according to Ella Westland, an author and professor at the University of Exeter, we “run the risk of internalizing the value system that governs the stories' representation of gender” (Westland). These norms are also pressed very hard on women in the current day and age, and fairytale films are the root of it all. Ever since the beginning of film, the princess...

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