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Gender Stereotypes In Disney's Cinderella

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Similarly, Disney’s Cinderella presents a cruel and ambitious stepmother who attempts to arrange marriages for her ugly, foolish, and somewhat comical daughters. In the film, we see their miserable attempt to sing opera, (supposedly in order to appear more feminine) as the mother proudly oversees. In one of the last scenes, she desperately urges them to make the glass slipper fit, and while she doesn’t downright tell them to cut off their toes or heels as in the original (Grimm 119), the comic scene in itself seems to have a subtle layer of tragedy. While these examples prove that female ugliness in fairy tales and their adaptations corresponds to wickedness, and the latter is equivalent to ill-temper, the question of female independence still…show more content…
Margarita Carretero and Maria Elena Rodriguez state in their article: “Wicked Women: The Menace Lurking Behind Female Independence” that “fairy tales are probably the narratives which better express classic conflicts between women” (202). Reiterating that first notion of physical attractiveness being a girl’s most promising asset to secure a marriage, and as a result, a position, the fact that a marriage prospect often plants the seed of jealousy among women in fairy tales comes as no surprise at all (Carretero and Rodriguez 203). For instance, in “Cinderella,” the wicked stepsisters, clearly jealous of the maiden’s superior beauty, strip her of her pretty clothes, dress her in rags, and force her to do the housework (Lieberman qtd. Grimm 392). Disney’s Cinderella also has quite a similar jarring scene in which the stepsisters rip off the dress from Cinderella’s body in order to impede her going to the ball. Furthermore, another aspect worth considering is the impact the depiction of such hostile behavior in fairy tales has on female readers. Girls most certainly notice (whether they do it consciously or subconsciously) that fairy tales glorify and reward beauty (Lieberman 385). When they identify with the beauties, girls tend to become suspicious of their less beautiful peers; and in case they identify with the plainer characters,…show more content…
These well-known characters purposely stand on opposite ends of the pole, together with all they represent. On one end, there is the virginal and almost childlike heroine, and on the other, the mature and sexually threatening stepmother. Jerilyn Fisher and Ellen S. Silber, the authors of the article: “Good and Bad Beyond Belief: Teaching Gender Lessons through Fairy Tales and Feminist Theory,” claim that in the absence of the heroine’s true and righteous mother, her pathological stepmother is “the only available, living ‘model’ of feminine maturity” (124). However, since the stepmother is put under harsh social criticism, the heroine is likely to associate herself with “the passive, feminine identity of the first queen, avoiding any identification with the active principle embodied in the characterization of the bad mother/witch” (Fisher and Silber 124). Such is the case of the tale of “Snow-white,” in which we only see the good queen when working on her embroidery, (considered a typical female activity) and wishing for a child (Grimm 215). She dies giving birth to the child, and is eventually replaced by another woman, her equal in beauty, but also “proud and overbearing” (125). Afraid of her waning sexuality and jealous of the child’s growing attractiveness, the evil queen sets herself the task of killing the beautiful and kind Snow-white
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