Gender Differences In Household Tales

1764 Words8 Pages
From Cinderella to Rapunzel, the Grimm brothers’ stories are a household name. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, dubbed the Brothers Grimm, were collectors of stories armed with the passion to capture aspects of German culture in folklore (Zipes, 2002, p. 12). Although the brothers and their stories are celebrated in modern day, it took many editions of their first book, Children and Household Tales to gain traction (Zipes , 2002, p. 17). Originally published in 1812, the brothers extensively edited the tales culminating into the 1857 edition. The two versions have striking differences such as the removal of sex, increasing levels of violence, and promotion of industrious behavior that causes one to question the motivations behind the changes. When…show more content…
Outside of the brothers’ own discomfort surrounding the idea of sex and pregnancy, these cultural beliefs could have played a large role in the edition differences (Tartar, 1987, p. 8). Gender norms of that era were harsh, strictly dictating a woman’s behavior and appearance. There was a high value on domestic duties and elevated moral grounds (Hughes, n.d.). Concerning marriage, a woman should not seek out a husband, as that would show a sexual appetite, which society heavily stigmatized within that era. Women held the expectation to only desire a marriage due to motherhood, without any urge for sexual or emotional gratification (Hughes, n.d.). With such a strict gendered society, it is not surprising that the Grimm brothers would edit out any explicit or sexual nature from their stories. If the brothers continued having sexualized stories, the tales could have been less popular as the audience of the time disapproved of sex in regards to females, especially before marriage and without the fathers permission (Hughes, n.d). Familial structure was also incredibly important to this patriarchal society, where women “in private life were subject to fathers, husbands, brothers, even adult sons” (Marsh, n.d). When a woman was to be married, it was usually to a many with money,…show more content…
When the Grimm brothers were writing their stories, it was a incredibly tumultuous and tragic time in Europe, and most were accustomed to violence while not comfortable with sex. The increased violence was following a norm or habit of society rather than pushing against a pre-existing one. In this era of editing, many troubling things were happening in Europe, including the devastating Napoleonic wars (Zipes, 2002, p. 16). These wars brought devastation to not only Germany, as napoleon ravaged Europe in hopes of a French empire. These wars set the backdrop for the first publication, while political unrest in Germany darkened the later editions (Zipes, 2002, p. 19). With such a dark history, it is not surprising that the Grimm brothers would be habituated to the idea of gruesome violence, and that the audience would have a similar background. Some might claim that the increase in violence is simply adding excitement and fuel to the story; however, the examples of added violence are systematic and well planned. The violence exemplified in the Grimm Brothers’ tales is not senseless acts of war. It pushed away from that ideal, moving toward reparations for good or evil deeds. They did not simply add violence to Cinderella for the sake of entertainment, but to show punishment for the wicked actions of the stepsisters. This concept of punishment for immoral deeds and the history of war are indicative
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