Essay Sample on Feminism Theory and Fairy Tales

Published: 2024-01-28
Essay Sample on Feminism Theory and Fairy Tales
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature Feminism
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1902 words
16 min read

Fairy tales are always associated with children's stories, often having a happy ending. Fairy tales comprise of stories about princes and princes, mythical creatures, or kingdoms. Therefore, fairy tales have always been used to teach children on best behaviors; they are expected to enjoy a happy life. Some common teachings include the maturing nature for girls and bravery for boys (Best 281). Nevertheless, fairy tales have not always been based on feminist ideals or gender equality. However, considering feminism and a fairy tale combination, the outcomes can be readily predicted. Various collections demonstrate the influence of fairy tale literature and feminism. For example, investigating a Bloody chamber case and other stories, comprising ten different stories such as "Bluebeard", "Beauty and the Beast", and the "Little Red Riding hood", feminism becomes prominent. The paper focuses on feminism theory and fairy tale analysis by questioning gender equality and women's presentation in traditional fairy tales.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Gender stereotyping has been in existence since the emergence of feminism second wave in the early 1970s. Gender stereotyping has been faced with criticism as part of the patriarchal tradition, which was critical in conveying messages in fairy tales (Duggan, Haase, Callow 301). Gender roles play an important role in traditional stories that are highly considered in most fairy tales, which try to alter themes and change the story stereotypes. The use of gender role aspects in story development explains why not only men are considered dominant and lustful, or in the case of women as weak and dependent (Snodgrass 198). Therefore, some scholars have examined and confronted and disrupted the existing fairy tales trying to uncover their stereotypes, especially the ones focusing on heroines.

In her text, Carter argues that it is possible for females not always to agree on o existing and conventional patriarchal beliefs. There is a significant change in fairy tale development over the last few years, with several versions including the oldest fairy tales' publication. It is unclear on the fairy tales' original context considering the original writer, narration, or how it was originally presented. As a result, new versions are trying to retell the original stories changing the original concept intended for the tales. Based on the existing versions of Carter's collection, fairy tales such as "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon, "The Company Wolves, and The Bloody Chamber all include gender role reversal. The three stories portray women as weak objects while their counterparts men as being more powerful. For example, the Bloody Chamber progresses from a typical stereotype until the story heroine is presented. Despite being a secondary character, she shows that there is always a possibility for women's empowerment.

On the other hand, the story "The Company Wolves" explores sexual liberation and changes the existing social norms on women's perspective. The story is developed covering the aspects of both gender roles, exploring women as the protagonists in the society while displaying men as the antagonists and containing traits portrayed in both female and male. Consequently, "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" story, however, appears to be a traditional fairy tale with a happy ending with love as the central theme. Therefore, the story does not deviate from conventional fairy tale versions hence negates the stereotypes expressed in other tales such as "The Company of Wolves." Despite focusing on a love story, the entire tale is tainted by the patriarchal gender surrounding her life.

Therefore, the girl is presented under love oppression, being shown as a commodity trying to please men surrounding her life. The issue of women's submission to superior men is always a cycle. Therefore, the author tries to pass her message against oppressive measures always associated with love stories.

Despite being unique stories, they all portray female protagonists based on different viewpoints. Each case presents a woman having an encounter with a man who eventually treats them as weak and submissive gender. However, the main aim has been to demonstrate that women can still have an equal opportunity as their counterpart men do. The stories do not present ideal liberation for the women characters they present.

Therefore, it is clear that not all women represented in various cases get released from patriarchal objectification or oppression and show that not all women presented have free sexual expression. Morally, the stories show that stereotypical or existing relationships and women who do not get liberation still disrupt conventional stereotypes, ultimately promoting equality. As presented in different fairy tales, it is evident that gender equality and patriarchal oppression are some of the dominant aspects that are always presented in fairy tales.

As agreed by various texts, it is evident that most traditional fairy tales display men as the stronger character compared to men, as shown in some patriarchs, which are more powerful. On the other hand, women are always presented as weaker characters, majorly as good houses help saddled with care for children's responsibilities. On the other hand, some of the emerging fairy tales try to question fairy tales' nature by opposing the gender-based stereotypes and focusing on how equality can be achieved from the basic workplace, home other related aspects to complex decision-making processes.

Just like the way not all characters in a narrative have the chance to experience the change of gender roles, the 1st story of the collection "The Bloody Chamber" introduces the standard hypothesis that has been built and accepted in the community of gender inequality, oppression of women by men as well as the suffering of women under the objection of men. Carter 1 begins with a female character, who, like another female character in narratives, is depicted as slavish and inferior compared with their male counterparts. Nevertheless, a mother has as been used as the main character who is empowered. The author has shown the mother to be a hero due to her roles in the book. The mother character is different from "Bluebeard" (Perraut), who in this case, it's her brothers who come to rescue her instead of her mum. Thus, in this instance, the reversal of gender roles has already been evidenced. In "The Bloody Chamber," the female protagonist, who is in her teen stage, is shown to be generally a girl who is innocent, slavish, and good (Carter 6). The husband to the girl is way older than the teen protagonist and has been used to show men's domination over women due to his authority and finances.

The marriage between the teenage girl and her husband shows how women are oppressed and objectified because the husband has given the female protagonist a ruby choker, which is said to be the same as a dog's collar. The ruby choker he has given to his wife indicates that he intends to dominate her by making her his slave. To experiment with her obedience and submission level, the husband appeals to the wife's curiosity (Carter16). The husband tests her by ensuring that she has all the keys with free authority within the castle. However, the husband tells her that each man must have something confidential that the wife is not known (Carter 18). The husband's secret is that he has previously killed his seven former wives locked in a specific room. Although the wife has the key to the room where the seven wives have been put, her husband prohibits her from accessing the room. The teenage wife could not hold her curiosity and thus opened the room. On realizing that the wife disobeyed him, the husband decides to punish his wife. From his thoughts, he thought that the wife was similar to his former seven wives. To prove his thoughts to be true, she opened the chamber, and thus she was disobedient, which was against his rule. The husband feels that he is ordained to punish her. The husband views his wife as his object. Thus, she should not go contrary to his expectations. Although the husband gave her the key, he feels that it's her curiosity that made her disobey her. Thus, she should be punished. If she would have obeyed him by not going into the chamber, the husband says he would not have intended to punish her.

In the same story, a piano tuner says that the wife went against the husband's authority; thus, she should be punished. The radical feminists argue that the oppression of women by their husbands has negative implications for women. According to Zerbe Enns, Sinacore 469, some of the women do not have the potential to go against the patriarchal oppression they are subjected to. In this particular incidence, liberal feminists are likely to perceive the oppression of the teenage wife by her husband lightly. The liberal feminists can argue that the husband should not have entrusted the keys with his wife if he did not intend her to go to the chamber. The feminists further argue that he gave her the keys because he wanted to find a reason as to why he should punish her. As per Tandon 44, men use their patriarchal authority to oppress women, sustain their egos and esteems.

The husband in this story intends to keep his ego by manipulating his wife. He wants to test the extent of obedience of his wife by expecting her to go contrary to his words. This would be his proof of his authority over his wife. The husband does not view the woman as a human being just like him but rather as an objective tool that he has power over. The characters' difference shows how gender roles have been changed, and the typical stereotypes in "The Bloody Chamber." In this story, not all characters are empowered but rather the secondary female characters as depicted by the protagonist's mother. In the everyday stories that we are used to, a hero is mostly a male character (Roberts-Brackett 116). Unlike the other fairy narratives, the mother is a heroine who went against the patriarchal dominance to save the daughter (Carter 40). From this story, we learn that when a woman is empowered, she can go away from all forms of suffering associated with patriarchal oppression. The radical feminist would argue that this is a picture of how gender equality would help in doing away with oppression (Zerbe Enns, Sinacore 469).

Based on different text analysis, it is evident that fairy tales try to establish gender equality support despite not all relationships portrayed show equality in gender representation. The most prominent aspect is that they appear to change the perception of gender roles negatively or positively. They all show the darker elements, which are often ignored when learning or reading fairy tales. All the stories appear to present their views through tainted love experienced through gender stereotypes or patriarchal oppression. The stories also use sex as a defense mechanism for the stories proving won can distract men in the same manner men distract them. They are, therefore, showing how freedom from patriarchal oppression can be achieved while being sexually liberated. Love created in various fairy tales is only represented as a happiness source, hence bridging the gender equality gap.

Works Cited

Best, Deborah L. "Cross-Cultural Gender Roles." Encyclopedia of Women and Gender: Sex Similarities and Differences and the Impact of Society on Gender. Ed. Judith Worell. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001. Print.

Carter, Angela. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. London: Vintage Books, 2006. Print.

Duggan, Anne E., Donald Haase, and Helen Callow, eds. Folktales and Fairy Tales: Traditions and Texts from around the World. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Santa Barbra: ABC-CLIO, 2015. Print.

Cite this page

Essay Sample on Feminism Theory and Fairy Tales. (2024, Jan 28). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism