Gender Stereotyping In Anne Sexton's Snow White

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The words “once upon a time” automatically conjure up images of princesses, castles, and fairy godmothers, but do we as readers ever examine these stories closer? When we stop and dissect a work of literature, we may find that its meaning may not be quite as clear as we had originally believed. Fairy tales have powerful but subtle meanings that are as magical as the stories themselves. Double meanings can become more apparent through close examination of the language, the form and content of dialogue within the text, and variations between different versions of the same fairy tale. When these strategies are applied to the well known fairy tale Snow White, it becomes increasingly obvious that there is more to the story than an evil stepmother…show more content…
In Anne Sexton’s version of Snow White she is described as “fragile as a cigarette paper” (Schacker et al., 386), “virgin” (Schacker et al., 388), and a “dumb bunny” (Schacker et al., 389). This portrays women as both physically and mentally weaker than men. This stereotype is also furthered later in the text as Snow White repeatedly falls for her stepmother’s tricks when tempted by her gifts. In addition, Snow White is objectified and valued for nothing more than her beauty. She is never praised for her kindness, her intelligence, or any other attributes not related to her appearance. When reading Anne Sexton and the Grimm’s versions of the tale the reader may begin to be very disappointed and think there has to be more to Snow White than her “China-blue doll eyes” (Schacker et al., 386). Even her name, Snow White, is nothing more than a simple description of her appearance. The dwarves and prince in the story see her as nothing more than pretty to look at. They even refer to her as an “it” in several instances; for example, in the Grimm’s version of the tale, it says, “But the dwarfs answered, ‘We won’t give it up for all the gold in the world.’” (Schacker et al.,
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