Women in Fairy Tales : From Myth of Courtesy and Female Subordination to Revisions of Feminine Strength
MetadataShow full item record
Both traditional and contemporary fairy tales relentlessly berate and demean their female characters, leaving them (the meek heroines) either virtually unprotected against the dangers of the world or forcing them (the evil step-mother or step-sister) to attack the elements of that society which oppresses them. Women in fairy tales are constantly placed in violent competition with one another, usually in pursuit of a reward in the shape of a prince who loves the winner for her most superficial characteristics- the size of a foot, for instance--or for her patriarch-induced passivity and virtue. In addition, they are frequently humiliated for both being and not being independent, and then forced into marriages which perpetuate the cyclical tradition of their subordination. When these essential details of the fairy tale are exposed, the Ucourtesy" myth proposed by traditional analyses loses all validity; instead, the violence and subservience perpetrated on all of the female characters, from innocent daughter to wicked step mother, becomes obvious from beneath the veneer of the fairy realm.