The Role Of Gender Stereotypes In Fairy Tales

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Fairy tales are important pieces of children’s literature that impact their views, as well as leave a lasting impression into adulthood. The values and meanings that are described to children in these stories shape the adult they plan to be. Fairy tales also play an important role in the gender construction process, as “initial impressions about gender remain within children’s mind during development” (Siddiqui, “Representation of women”). A protagonist is the leading character who pursues a goal and adventure within a fairy tale, which allows the audience a view into this fantastic fairy tale world. Most of the audience connects with the protagonist as an embodiment of the values and traits that symbolize a hero. Albeit male and female characters…show more content…
There are many differences between males and females in German fairy tales, as gender stereotyping has construed the protagonists according to predictable traits and morals, character progressions, and intrinsic motives. Within fairy tales, each gender’s protagonist has delineated predictable personality traits that are detrimental to gender progression or relatability to the audience. The personality values of a female protagonist vastly differ from that of a male protagonist. Most female characters are expected to be good hearted, kind, and obedient. These defining female qualities are stereotypically “traditional” values imposed on women in society, both now and during the time period that these fairy tales were written in. These predictable values of the female protagonist are…show more content…
These character progressions occur completely differently and have vastly contrasting outcomes on the protagonist’s life and values. A typical male will progress from a “meek and humble boy to a strong, dominant leader” (Tatar 94), while a typical female will progress in a less noticeable manner as she changes from a young and innocent girl to a “self-less, compliant wife/daughter” (Tatar 94). The structure of society at the time when Brothers Grimm wrote their tales expected reinforcement of patriarchal concepts. To be a constructive part of the patriarchal system, a "proper" female should be passive, inferior and without much initiative while a “proper” male should be assertive and ambitious. The domain of male maturation occurs in the public sphere, as the hero conquers physical or intellectual tests of feat in their adventures. Male protagonists are initially dim-witted and naive, causing them to not adhere to instructions, while female protagonists are shown to always be obedient and follow instructions very well. An example of this male progression is seen in The Boy Who Knows No Fear as „[er] war dumm, konnte nichts begreifen und lernen” in the beginning of the story and becomes a brave man who outwitted the evil obstacles and succeeded in the tests placed upon him. Female maturation transpires in the private sphere, as the heroine

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