Empowerment of Women in Fairy Tales
Throughout the centuries, the format of fairy tales has changed drastically. Ancient fairy tales started out aimed towards an adult audience, talking about sex and violence and taking a mainly patriarchal view. Twentieth century writers have not only changed the style and format of more modern fairy tales, but they have also retold the traditional fairy tales, aiming them more at children and diminishing the patriarchal views. This essay will compare ancient and twentieth century fairy tales, showing how more modern fairy tale texts eliminate the patriarchal views and empowers women. Through the use of intelligence and devoted strength, fairy tale formats have changed from patriarchal societies to societies that empower women.
Fairy tales are often told with a very patriarchal view, seeing women as incompetent, unfaithful and evil. The Wicked Stepmothers Lament and The Story of King Shaheyar and His Brother both represent women as evil. In The Story of King Shaheyar and His Brother, women are represented as evil temptresses “’no man in this world is safe from the malice of women!”’ (Zipes, 6). King Shahryar wants to save himself from the wickedness and cunning of women and so he “swore in binding oath that when he married he would take his new wife’s maidenhead at night and slay her the next morning to make sure of his honor, for her was convinced that there never was or could be one chaste woman upon the face of this earth” (Zipes, 12). This shows how much women are stereotyped and disrespected in during this time period. The women in this text are not taken seriously and not trusted, and so each and every virgin in the city are killed. In Maitland’s version of Cinderella, The Wicked Stepmother’s Lament, she illuminates the patriarchal and sexist views that lie beneath the classic fairy tale. Cinderella’s father is a good example of the patriarchy hidden in this fairy tale. As the stepmother points out, “so long as he was...
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