The Role Of Gender Stereotypes In Fairy Tales

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A kiss from her true love could bring a beautiful princess back to life. A scullery maid aided by a tad of magic could attend a lavish ball and meet the man of her dreams. A mermaid could magically grow a pair of legs, so that she could be with her human lover. These ‘once upon a time’ stories for young children with the ‘happily ever after’ ending were the perfect getaway to a fantasy world.

However, in the 17th and 18th century, not all was perfect. Fairy tales were horrific - illustrating gory details of incest, murder and cannibalism. According to The Guardian online newspaper, fairy tales exposed the dangers of the real world with lessons to be very courageous and careful.Recently, there have been many arguments on whether ‘happily ever afters’ are realistically possible, considering the gender stereotypes, patriarchal society and gruesome stories expressed in the original fairy tales. Therefore, to what extent have fairy tales had a positive impact on children when examined through a gender and psychological lens? Fairy tales that paint either a ‘rosier than reality’ picture or
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For example, in the 17th century version of Sleeping Beauty titled ‘Talia, the Sun and the Moon’, written by Italian author Giambattista Basile, an unconscious Talia is abandoned in a forest after pricking her finger on a deadly chip of flax. However, instead of stealing a kiss from a handsome prince and marrying him, like in the fairy tales we have come to know, she was raped by a King, and was impregnated. She later woke up when her sons, named Sun and Moon, suckled on her finger and loosened the splinter. Talia then marries the King and lives happily ever after with him and her children. As observed, Talia’s story is more barbarous than the stories children read

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