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Female Charcters in Fairy Tales - Essay Example

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The paper analyzes the portrayal of female characters in famous fairy tales. It is pointed out that Disney’s fairytale adaptations are often criticized for their negative, stereotypical, portrayal of female characters, namely, in the movies “Cinderella”, “Snow White”, “Sleeping Beauty”…
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Female Charcters in Fairy Tales
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Download file to see previous pages Not all agree with the claim that traditional fairy tales such as “Cinderella” positively portray females. Pollitt maintains that it is virtually impossible to come across a fairytale in which women are portrayed as “active, brave and determined.” Instead, in the world of fairytales, Pollitt (1995, p. 479) maintains that females “blend seamlessly into the animated cereal commercials.” Indeed, these remarks are perfectly applicable to the Disney film versions of “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” and “Sleeping Beauty,” among others. In none of these movies do the female characters commit themselves to any action or even make an attempt at defending themselves. Cinderella’s single act of rebellion was to go to the ball without her stepmother’s knowledge but with her fairy godmother's permission and protection. This act is never repeated. In the shoe-fitting scene, she hangs back and does not come forward until she is pressed to by Palace officials. This is the ultimate in passivity since she knew that were she just to step forward, her entire life would change. She does not, however, and this in itself, evidences the fact that the course and direction of her life are shaped by others and not be herself. Consequently, within the context of Disney’s film versions of popular fairy tales as “Cinderella,” one can safely assert the prevalence of negative gender stereotypes. The negative gender stereotypes which audiences can detect in Disney’s “Cinderella” were not imposed upon the movie by the fairytale itself....
The negative gender stereotypes which audiences can detect in Disney's "Cinderella" were not imposed upon the movie by the fairytale itself, since, in none of its versions are females depicted in this weak, passive and inactive manner. In different versions of the "Cinderella" story, the male character does not make any impression at all, and is only reacts to the actions of the female characters. In the Grimm version, the action of the plot is shaped by the step sisters' determination that Cinderella does not go to the ball, and Cinderella's determination to go. She defies her stepsister when she does not perform the tasks they set for her but has the magic pigeons do it for her. Furthermore, all through this story, the events are shaped by Cinderella's dead mother's spirit. She is the one who sends her daughter the pigeons and gives her the chance to go to the ball. Actually, the prince does not choose Cinderella but both she and her dead mother choose him for her as the only one that is good enough for Cinderella. It is all like a magic matchmaking story where the prince walks into the marriage trap that was set out for him by the dead mother. The whole plot is a conflict between women and it is very easy to imagine the Prince's character replaced by another prize symbolizing the victory of the good over the evil, but it is not possible to imagine the story without Cinderella or the evil stepsisters.
The Charles Perrault version of the "Cinderella" story confirms the view that men, not women, are very much on the borders of the story. The prince does not appear until halfway through and the first male character we see, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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