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Literary Folk Tales: The Origin Of The Literary Fairy Tales

Decent Essays
In this section I will shortly outline the origin of the literary fairy tale and its features as a genre. I will then discuss how, despite heavy feminist criticism, the genre gained popularity among late twentieth-century feminist writers.
The genre of fairy tales has its roots in folklore and in oral tradition. Jack Zipes remarks that fairy tales and folk tales are today generally confused with one another and that: He also maintains that “fairy tales have been in existence as oral folk tales for thousands of years and first became what we call literary fairy tales toward the end of the seventeenth century [emphasis in the original].” For Carter, while folklore emerges from oral “unofficial” culture, the fairy tale is the product of a literary “official” culture. Whereas folklore results in “stories without known originators that can be made and remade again and again by every person who tells them,” literary fairy tales “transformed an oral tradition into texts that become middle-class
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In fact, female characters are often represented as weak, submissive and helpless figures who can only accomplish their goals with the help of a male hero. For example, the heroine of “The Sleeping Beauty” is helpless in her sleep but is then saved by the prince attracted by her beauty. Active female heroines are quite rare and, when present, they usually appear for a brief moment; they are usually elderly female figures endowed with wisdom or special abilities that assist the young heroine in her path. In Karen E. Rowe’s words, This is evident, for example, in the character of the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella’s story. Other active female characters are powerful and ambitious, and they are portrayed as wicked and evil and they are often ugly; jealous of the heroine’s beauty, they usually try to prevent her from achieving happiness and often end up killed or
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