Women In Fairy Tales

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Fairy tales have been part of the collective work of different cultures for centuries. Their main functions were to dictate moral concepts such as good and evil, as well as ideal notions of beauty, femininity, and motherhood. Such tales often told the struggles of different women who were bound to fill out their designated roles in patriarchal societies and were thrashed against each other in order for the author to make a point. The typical representations of women in fairy tales as good or evil, feminine or wicked, is a valid topic for research because it leads to a variety of subtopics, such as women’s relationships as depicted in this literary form. The most interesting aspect of the latter is the rivalry shared between the heroine and…show more content…
Using these words, the authors draw the line of distinction between the roles of “the saint” and “the whore” (200). Secondly, independent women in fairy tales were often associated with the concept of evil because they menaced the patriarchal order itself (203). No longer relying on men for emotional or economic support, these women were harder to control (203). However, back in the days when these tales were crafted, “most women had not been by tradition so fortunate as to enjoy the economic independence that would enable them to run their lives as wished” (203). As a result, their roles in society were entirely defined by their relationships with men (207). This point is related to another one also discussed in this source: the hostile relationship between women, which is prevalent in fairy tales (202). According to the authors, “fairy tales are probably the narratives which better express classic conflicts between women” (202). They mention Snow White as the perfect example of the virginal heroine persecuted by her unloving stepmother, who was “jealous over the princess’s youth and supposedly superior beauty” (203). Apparently, for women living in a…show more content…
Silber. Its main points focused on the antagonist mother-daughter dynamics as they appear in fairy tales. I was particularly interested to discover the role of the wicked stepmother in the heroine’s path toward “femininity” (Fisher and Silber 123). In this source, the authors discus 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). And since the stepmother was put under severe social criticism, the heroine’s ‘reaction’ was 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” (124). As I understand it, the stepmother’s role was to personify the negative role model, the social pariah from which the heroine should steer clear of in order to get her happy ending. Another point of interest in this article is the discussion of “mother-blaming” as a recurrent concept in fairy tales and real life (125). Freud’s mother rejection theory is placed side by side with current feminist psychological studies conducted by Judith Lewis Herman and Helen Block Lewis (125). According to them, Freud’s interpretation “…entirely overlooks the male dominated context” in
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