Essay On Gender Roles In Fairy Tales

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The Helpless, the Hero and the Villain: A Narrative Look at Gender Roles In fairy tales, often specifically from the earlier, patriarchal societies of the pre-1900s, there are explicit gender roles that are followed. The girls are seen as hopeless, naïve, and sometimes stupid, whereas the males are seen as heroic figures to assist the girls. While Charles Perrault’s “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” and Brothers Grimm’s “Little Red Cap” are no different, they exemplify these roles as they fit into three specific characters in their tales: the helpless, the hero, and the villain. The helpless shows the constraints that are placed on women in both fairy tales and in real life, the hero shows the male privilege exemplified in these patriarchal times, and the villain is a role that can be filled by either gender, but still happens to show the privilege men get even when placed in these roles. – insert link – The role of the helpless is almost always filled by a girl. She is naïve and does not know how to keep herself from giving into temptation. In Perrault’s tale, this is seen from the very beginning as she is doomed by both the aged fairy and the last young fairy: “The princess will indeed prick her hand with a spindle. […] At the end of that time a king's son shall come to awaken her,” (Perrault). She is immediately sentenced to give in to the temptation of the “spinning wheel” (a phallic symbol), which she eventually does due to her lacking in ability to…show more content…
With the way men and women are presented in the roles of the helpless, hero and the villain, the privilege of the male roles is highlighted. Girls stay as helpless objects in these stories, meant to serve their only purpose as lessons for other real-life girls who are also all naïve, helpless and cannot save themselves from giving into temptation, but must be saved by the men of the
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