Women Taking Care of Women : Modern Fairy Tales and the Changes in Women’s Agency



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description In the famous article on the role that fairy tales play in the acculturation of women, the author, Marcia Lieberman, analyses some of the best-known traditional fairy tales in terms of the female character stereotypes that appear in these stories. Lieberman points out the passive behaviour and lack of agency displayed by the female protagonists and the contrasting assertiveness of the villains concluding that the message that fairy tales relay to their readers is that good girls should wait patiently for their rescuer and friendship between female characters is not possible because of the jealousy of the villains. Many authors of modern fairy-tale rewritings try to subvert these stereotypes by giving their protagonists more agency and allowing positive relationships to develop between female characters. This presentation will focus on one of these authors – namely Emma Donoghue and her collection of fairy-tale rewritings Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins with the aim of analysing the relationship between the female characters as these play a vital role in the individual stories. The stories are narrated in the form of a chain, where a secondary character from one story becomes the protagonist in the next story. The protagonists of the individual stories always develop a close relationship with an older woman who becomes a mentor figure to them and helps the protagonist to overcome her problems and to grow more mature. This, in turn, helps the protagonist to become a mentor figure to another character in a different story. The relationship these characters build, show that positive relationships between female characters are not only possible, but necessary as it is having a role model that helps the protagonists in Donoghue's stories to find their happy end.
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