Feminism and Fairy Tales Essay examples

Feminism and Fairy Tales Essay examples

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In a society unbridled with double standards and set views about women, one may wonder the origins of such beliefs. It might come as a surprise that these ideals and standards are embedded and have been for centuries in the beloved fairy tales we enjoyed reading as kids. In her analytical essay, “To Spin a Yarn: The Female Voice in Folklore and Fairy Tales”, Karen Rowe argues that fairy tales present “cultural norms which exalt passivity, dependency, and self-sacrifice as a female’s cardinal virtues.” Rowe presents an excellent point, which can be supported by versions of the cult classics, “Cinderella” and “Snow White”. Charles Perrault’s “ The Little Glass Slipper” and the Brothers Grimm’s “ Snow White” exemplify the beliefs that females are supposed to be docile, dependent on the male persona and willing to sacrifice themselves. In many cases, when strong female characters are presented they are always contradicting in these characteristics, thus labeled as villainous. Such is the case of the Cinderella’s stepsisters in Perrault’s “Cinderella” and the stepmother in the Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White.” These female characters face judgment and disapproval when they commit the same acts as male characters. With such messages rooted in our beloved fairy tales it is no wonder that society is rampant with these ideals about women and disapprove of women when they try to break free of this mold.

A prolific exemplification of the ideal female virtues portrayed in fairy tales is Charles Perrault’s “ The Little Glass Slipper”. Perrault presents the ideal female fairy tale character through his portrayal of Cinderella. Cinderella is a tame and forgiving individual who subjects herself to the will of her father, stepmother and s...


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...cardinal virtues.” This cannon is exemplified in multiple fairy tales, especially Charles Perrault’s “ The Little Glass Slipper” and the Brothers Grimm’s “ Snow White”. Throughout these two fairy tales the main characters are perfect embodiments of these ideal female virtues. Cinderella is passive and forgiving even though she is mistreated. Snow White is passive and her life is completely dependent on the males present in the tale. In both instances the opposing women in the narratives are characterized as villains because they are strong and dominant. In the case of “Snow White” only the queen is looked down upon when she tries to kill Snow White, while the huntsman is proclaimed a hero even though he was intent on killing her. These cannons and ideals, demonstrate why our society is full of double standards and set ideals that women are suppose to live up to.

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