Changes in the Stereotypical Portrayal of Women in Fairytales with Time
Fairytales have always been a very important part of everyone’s childhood. They have always been considered as a source of entertainment for children. However, despite that fairytales play an important role in changing, and influencing the developing minds of children. All the fairytales that we have usually seen in our childhood, were very significant in intricating the ideals of patriarchal society into the fabric of our little minds. However, with the evolution of time, and the ideals of society, the portrayal of the of the female characters in the Disney fairytales has changed a lot.
Attractive and Submissive Women:
The Grimm’s fairytales instead of serving as a source of entertainment also played an important role in the depiction of the ideals of the society of the 1950’s. The portrayal of the female characters in the fairytales such as Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty was in accordance to the ideas of the patriarchal society in which women were supposed to be both attractive, and submissive. The beauty and attractiveness were considered to be important factors at the time, for a woman to have a happy life. Therefore, the main characters Cinderella, and Princess Aurora were depicted as extremely attractive women in the fairytales Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty respectively. Cinderella was always compared with snow due to her fair complexion which reflected her innocence. However, her stepsisters were portrayed as unattractive women with dark complexion which portrayed their evilness. Similarly, in Sleeping Beauty, the Maleficent was an evil witch who was always shown wearing a black gown, which depicted her evilness. Therefore, the innocence was associated with color white, while the evilness with color black.
Men as Saviors:
People of the fifties also believed that the core purpose of a good woman was to wait for a right man in order to get rid of all the difficulties she was facing in her life. The man was considered as a key to open the doors of happiness, and bring good fortune to the heroine. Therefore, Cinderella always listened to her stepsisters and stepmother, and dealt with their traps, and bad behaviors with patience while waiting for a perfect man to come into her life, and rescue her. Similarly, in Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora could only be saved from death through the kiss of a Prince who must have immediately fallen in love with her. How could a person who has never met you before, fall in true love with you? Therefore, these stories portrayed that every woman needs a man to survive or to be saved from all the calamities she faces in her life.
Strong, Powerful, and Independent Women:
However, the change in the ideals of the society due to the passage of time also impacted the portrayal of the women in the same fairytales. Due to the increased awareness of feminism in society, the New Versions of both these fairytales have changed the notions of a good and a bad woman, and have portrayed them to be the master of their own happiness. The Cinderella in the New Version of the Disney movie is shown to be humble instead of being submissive, and is depicted as someone who believed that she herself could overcome these difficulties instead of waiting for a man to come and save her. Moreover, the Maleficent in the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, is shown as a very attractive, powerful, and independent ruler instead of a man, which depicts matriarchy.
The New Notions of True Love:
Writers have now also started to challenge and subvert the stereotypical ideas of the previous society by changing the narratives of their stories, and by giving voice to the stories of the evil characters. They have also challenged the stereotypical notions of true love, as Princess Aurora is being saved by the kiss of Maleficent instead of the Prince. She was able to save her because she knew her since her birth, and had always loved her. Therefore, true love does not only exist between a man and a woman. A person can also experience the warmth of true love through different characters or relationships in his/her life.