Condemning the so called “princess culture” seems to be a new trend in the 20th century; many people are convinced that society stereotypes children and forces them into being someone they are not. Besides gender specific toys and colors, especially fairytales are often criticized harshly. The author of the article “One Day my Prince will come”, Marcia K. Lieberman, claims that women in fairytales are portrayed as passive and weak and that this image influences the self-image of young children. However, I disagree with Lieberman’s opinion. Even though many fairytales glorify the image of a passive, obedient woman, there is always a moral to the story – and many other great fairytales have an independent and active heroine. Two great examples for fairy tales featuring strong females are “Iron Hans” and “Hänsel and Gretel”.
In the Grimm Brothers’ fairytale “Iron Hans”, a young boy gets himself in trouble by releasing a wild creature known as Iron Hans. After running away from home with Iron Hans and getting himself thrown out of the woods, the boy ends up working as the gardener’s helper at a king’s castle. While the boy is working in the garden, the king’s daughter sees the boy’s beautiful golden hair and decides to order him to get her flowers. She pulls off his cap to see his hair and as reward for the flowers she gives him gold ducats. After two more of these dates, a war, and a festival, the boy ends up revealing himself as the son of a king and asks for the hand of the king’s daughter. The daughter laughs and gives her approval by kissing the boy. The king’s daughter in “Iron Hans” is obviously not one of the stereotypical fairytale princesses; she is not passive and weak. She actively flirts with the boy and tries t...
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... instead of telling the prince that it is hers, she still stands up for herself and goes to the ball even though her family does not want her to. The moral of the story is that standing up for oneself can lead to a happy ending. Another fairytale that Lieberman harshly criticizes is “Sleeping Beauty”. The name already suggests that the main figure in the fairytale is passive, but that is the actual lesson that this fairytale teaches the reader. While Sleeping Beauty being submissive and passive can be interpreted in a way that makes women seem submissive and passive, it can also be interpreted in a different way; the writer might want to show the reader that it is worth to wait for love – even if it takes a hundred years. It is easy to criticize fairytales for being sexist and stereotypical, but let’s not forget the deeper meanings and lessons that fairytales teach.
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