Fairy Tales Gender Roles

1447 Words6 Pages
The limitations of female roles in classic fairy tales is a prominent issue. In fact, looking at the Grimm stories, there are very few roles that are simply reused. For female antagonists, there are only two significant roles: the witch and the evil stepmother. Witches are typically noticeably evil by some physical difference and have become unlikeable outsiders. Stepmothers are wicked and cause the victimization of the protagonist. There are just as few roles for female protagonists: the rescuer and the victim. The rescuer must save a male figure, family member, or both in her life, “Female protagonists prove themselves not in battle against an opponent, but in rescuing the bridegroom, brother, or male friend” (Wardetzky 163). The victim is moved by events that happen to them, as described by Ortner, “-although they are the protagonists, the action of the story is moved along by the virtue of bad things happening to them, rather than their initiating actions as in the case of the majority of male heroes” (Ortner 9). As suggested by the description of these (few) roles, in many cases they represent a loss or lack thereof agency.
A strong example of loss of agency is The Girl Without Hands. In this story, a young woman’s father accidentally promises her to the devil and even though she escapes him she continues to undergo torment by him. (Grimm) The female protagonist of this story falls under the prototype of a “victim hero.” This is shown when her father promises her to
Get Access