Feminism in Grimms’ Tales

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Ruth B. Bottigheimer is a folklorist, scholar, and author. At the moment, she works at Stony Brook University in New York and she is a professor in the department of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies. As her writing the book Grimm’s Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales suggests, she has a fascination for fairy tales, primarily European fairy tales. This book is an in depth analysis of the stories represented in Grimm's Fairy Tales; however, Bottigheimer’s main argument seems to be focused on gender distinction in the stories. Bottigheimer seems to believe that women were discriminated more in this story as that was the social norm at the time. Various chapters throughout the book seem to focus on the argument that there is an inequality between men and women represented.
As Bottigheimer states, “Four perspectives have dominated Märchen research in the recent past: Freudian, Jungian, Marxist, and feminist” (ix). She later states, “feminist interpreters bring a special sensitivity to gender associations to their reading of the Tales” (ix). While Bottigheimer does cover other arguments, including that of the Freudian, Jungian, and Marxist, I am focusing on Bottigheimer’s feminist argument, as I believe it is the argument she is more focused and passionate about. The main evidence that Bottigheimer provides to support her claim is how the Grimm brother made various editorial changes to the book, each which reflected women in a more negative light. Bottigheimer further provides proof for her argument in chapter 2. She states, “The tales Grimm chose to set before young people are especially good examples of what he considered to be socially desirable and safe for their eyes. In general, the Small ...

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... supports this claim by showing how the female character’s speeches are reduced dramatically while the male character’s speeches increase dramatically. Bottigheimer later supports this by comparing Cinderella’s speeches from the 1812 version and the 1857 version. Bottigheimer states, “The 1857 version presents a far different picture. Here Cinderella has nearly lost her filial voice responding only to her father’s inquiry about what he should bring her from his trip” (62). She goes on to say, “In depriving Cinderella of her voice, Grimm has further isolated her within the tale, relegating nearly all her talk with people to indirect discourse, but leaving her the unvarying incantations addressed to birds and tree” (63).

Works Cited

Bottigheimer, Ruth B.. Grimms' bad girls & bold boys: the moral & social vision of the Tales. New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

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