Through the year’s fairy tales have given adults but mostly children a false illusion of how life could turn out, given many children the fake hope and idea of having an easy life and romantic life. The three-fairy tales chosen all have the common thread being that the heroine is beautiful and is a somewhat helpless victim with little to no control over their destiny. These fairy tales are interpreted differently by those who read it giving a different meaning or moral. These tales are psychological mirrors and become more complex as we mature, finding hidden messages or meaning. Like recognizing who the antagonist and protagonist are, and how good wins over evil in such tales. “Sleeping Beauty”, “Snow-White”, and “Rapunzel” are all fairy tales that have shaped children growing up while portraying a generous and patient princess yet hopeless, constrained and controlled by an evil stepmother, waiting to be saved by the charming prince.
Growing up people have heard these romantic fairy tales over and over. These range from stories about princesses and dashing heroes saving the day and achieving happiness, most of the time the princess is seen as the protagonist who faces some kind of family or work struggle just as seen in “Snow-White” and “Sleeping Beauty”. These princesses have always been seen as beautiful, patient, and kind, this is the image young girls see and some dream of being like that one day. When in all reality these so-called princesses are rejected, abused, and abandoned by their own family or stepfamily, and are not given much opinion or rights towards any decisions for their life, and do nothing to save themselves or get help. Neither the “Rapunzel” or “Snow-White” ready put an effort to find their prince or do something to improve their living situations making the female seem helpless and weak. These so-called princesses in all reality are portrayed as weak, constrained, delicate and frail giving them no word, opinion, or decision of their own, degrading the female gender. As much as society wants to see these women as the protagonist or the princess what type of image are, they are given and what image is that given to women and the type of ideas it gives younger female children for when they grow up.
Not only is the female gender degraded by the stereotypical qualities of the princesses but also how the stepmothers are always the antagonist of the tale. In “Rapunzel”, it was her mother who sold her own daughter, in “Sleeping Beauty” Maleficent the evil female witch who curses the princess and “Snow-White” is the wicked queen who orders the murder of her innocent stepdaughter. Fairy tales have portrayed a woman in her different aspects: admirable and abominable. The stepmothers in fairy tales carry negative and repulsive traits, such as vanity, jealousy, and pride. Combined with these traits are their knowledge of magic and sorcery and in some way a sixth sense for intuition. “Evil” is always the term used to describe the antagonist. If society keeps giving women, these evil and abominable characteristics it will be teaching younger children the wrong idea of the female illustration.
Furthermore, in these tales, the antagonist is usually the evil witch or queen, or the stepmother. These characters have been being the characteristics of being obsessive, selfish, cruel, and abusive, in a way these terms have always been placed on the female characters degrading the gender as is and stereotyping it. On the other hand, much of the fairy tale literature reinforces the idea that women’s shoes be wives and mothers, submissive and self-sacrificing which describes the living situation for most of these princesses before their prince saves them. Even though the princess is considered the heroine of the story, it is not the female who can save herself from harm or an undesirable situation; it is the male that must save her. Saying this it also places the male character as the prince also making him the protagonist and making him a hero. The prince in these tales is usually described as handsome, charming, brave and heroic when in all reality they put in no effort until the end of the story to find their princess.
The male’s role in these tales has always given a positive image, making them the protagonist as well with the princess. In most stories the prince doesn’t really have a lot of conversation or enough time to get to know the princess to actually fall in love with her, the most he does is fight a dragon or monster to save her. This gives the idea that just because the princess is beautiful and caring he is to be with her for the rest of her life. For example, in “Snow- White” the prince isn’t even given a name, he is desired by their status and looks, not their personality. This is perhaps the criticism of the Prince Charming trope; just like girls are being told they must be beautiful, boys are being told they must be rich, powerful and handsome, giving everyone higher standards. This is how the common stereotype of every girl wanting their “Prince Charming” can along.
In conclusion, both modern and traditional fairy tales have an enormous impact on societal conventions and expectations as well as on the actions of its individuals. Tales like “sleeping Beauty”, “Snow-White”, and “Rapunzel” have shaped children growing up while portraying a generous and patient princess yet hopeless, constrained and controlled by her evil antagonist, waiting to be saved by a prince charming. Stereotyping genders and who the protagonist and antagonist will be and the fact that good always wins over evil, standardizing these tails by always finishing with a happy ending. It is important that society realized how these stories can affect our lives and have an impact on what characteristics we connect with each gender. Fairy tales are indeed more than simple stories told to entertain children. These convey deep messages that vary in their emotional depth and impact.
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