The Grimm Brothers’ “Rapunzel” encourages women to subscribe to domestic roles. Through the tales of various female characters, “Rapunzel” teaches women to embrace their domesticity even at the risk and disadvantage of such a single-faceted lifestyle. The first female character is Rapunzel’s biological mother, who embodies the domestic women by relying on her husband and never leaving her house. Her husband encounters the enchantress in her own garden, who, though supernatural, cannot expand beyond the domestic realm. Moreover, Rapunzel, the heroine herself, willingly relegates her life to a life of stability, dependence, and ultimately, domesticity.
The story of the man and woman who long for a child teaches women to remain in the domestic realm. “Rapunzel” begins with a husband and wife. The wife, from an elevated window in her home, notices a protected garden “with the most beautiful rampion, and it looked so fresh and green that she longed for it” (The Brothers Grimm). The woman laments that she cannot have any rampion, and when she claims that a lack of rampion will kill her, her husband ventures into the garden and retrieves some rampion for her. The wife’s appetite proves to be insatiable, and thus, when her desire for rampion triples the next day, her husband, yet again, returns to the garden. The relationship the woman has with her husband reveals a traditional husband-wife relationship; the woman is confined to the home while the man works. The man thinks to himself: “Sooner than let your wife die, bring her some of the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will” (The Brothers Grimm). The Grimm text portrays the man as the woman’s source of survival; she is completely dependent upon her ma...
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...d…[who is] fascinated by the girl…who calms his horse” (Crew). Napoli’s addendum to “Rapunzel” includes Rapunzel successfully manipulating the horse, a skill not within the realm of the domestic. Napoli’s identification of Rapunzel’s lack of non-domestic skills supports that “Rapunzel” portrays women as creatures of the domestic realm.
“Rapunzel” lends an unclouded perspective on the role of woman. The fairy tale suggests that women should dwell within the home while men enable the woman to financially and mentally sustain her domesticity. The recent feminist push brings many gender issues to the surface, but fairytales are seldom regarded as potential gender misconceptions. Yes, American society should become even more open to women, but as long as Americans continue to read the characteristic, patriarchal fairy tales, feminism will always have a place in society.
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