Disney Fairy Tales Analysis

1694 Words7 Pages
“An examination of the best known stories shows that […] most of the heroines are passive, submissive, and helpless” (Lieberman 387). Academics throughout the years have frowned upon the typical representations of female beauty, meekness, domesticity, and motherhood in fairy tales, as well as examined the impact such depictions have on their readers. When Walt Disney took over the task of adapting fairy tales into film, he further enforced the stereotyped images of women on the minds of his viewers. However, over the last few years, the Walt Disney Animation Studios have been addressing the claims of the academics by depicting strong, high-spirited, and independent girls as the main heroines of animated films such as Brave, Tangled, and Frozen,…show more content…
This correlation also applies to Disney’s portrayals of female villains. To begin with, ugliness in fairy tales is associated with wickedness in such a way that it seems to explain the wickedness (Lieberman 392). For instance, in “The Sleeping Beauty,” the wicked wise woman who casts a spell on the princess is described as “an old crone, whereas the other fairies are young and lovely” (qtd. Grimm in 392). Disney’s Sleeping Beauty further attributes to the female villain the typical depiction of a witch: green reptile skin and black robes. Her powers are so dark, and her wrath is so great that by the end of the film she physically transforms herself into a dragon in order to keep the prince from saving the maiden. On top of that, fairy tales imply that “being ill-favored is corollary to being ill-natured” (Lieberman 392). “Those women who are either partially or thoroughly evil are generally shown as active, ambitious, strong-willed and, most often, ugly” (392). For instance, in the Grimms’ “Cinderella,” the stepmother is described as “proud and haughty,” and her daughters as shrewd and vain (qtd. Grimm in 392). Apparently, such individuals “are jealous of any woman more beautiful than they, which is not surprising in view of the power deriving from beauty in fairy tales” (392). In addition, “a further paradox of the feminine beauty ideal is that in a patriarchal system, those women who seek or gain power through their attractiveness are often those who are most dependent on men’s resources” (Baker-Sperry and Grauerholz 712). Accordingly, Cinderella’s stepmother uses her manipulative charm to control her husband for the sole reason that she is dependent on him (Lieberman qtd. Grimm in 392). Further trying to acquire more wealth and power, she strives to marry off one of her daughters to the prince (qtd. Grimm in
Open Document