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Author Comment
mrspb
Unregistered User
(8/15/03 4:05 pm)
Donkeyskin
A wonderful retelling of Donkeyskin is Robin McKinley's Deerskin. I have not had one person to whom I've recommended the book not fall under its spell. I have recommended it to many high school girls and number of friends.

gormghlaith
Registered User
(8/15/03 5:18 pm)
Re: Cenerentola
In my past post I mentioned the differences between Cerentola and the Disney Cinderella. I was not using Cerentola's murder of her first abusive Stepmother as an example of positive toughness- I was trying to say, probably clumsily, that the perception of how a woman should arrive at her happy ending can be different, depending on who's doing the telling, when, and to whom.

Cerontellaís act was foul-just as it was foul for King Arthur to kill the may babies, or Hercules to kill his family ('but Hera made me do it!'), two figures of folklore and myth considered heroic, two actions largely unprovoked. (NOT to justify anything, but Cerontella was being abused).

In the Frog Prince and the Enchanted Snake, violence is even required of the heroines to break enchantments.

And almost all the meek and mild varieties of fairytale princesses look on while their husbands and brothers carry out vengeance for them- Snow White's Stepmother dances to death, the dwarf in Snow White and Rose Red is killed by the prince, the evil mother-in-law in the Six Swans is burnt at the stake, and the 'false bride' in the Goose Girl is dragged till death behind two horses. These gruesome ends don't happen in all versions, but in the ones that they do, there isnít a peep from the good, gentle women for whom the murders are enacted.

While goodness and submission may seem better traits in the stereotypical fairytale female, how good is it to submissively allow someone to do the killing for you?

And as for women with moxie in fairytales...

Lady tricksters are all throughout Italo Calvino's Italian folktale collection, which is fresh on my mind since I'm reading it now- Lucia tricks the devil (Silvernose), Stella Diana outwits her suitor (which is good, since her tried to kill her on their wedding night; Pot of Marjoram), in the The Parrot a princess rejects several suitors as she walks the countryside as a doctor, and in Silent for Seven years, the electively mute heroine becomes a soldier, informs on thieves, and rescues her brothers from Hell by her silence throughout her hardships.


The Greek Psyche goes to Hades, while her fairytale descendants wear out countless iron shoes, as they make the years long journeys to win their princes (Eros and Psyche, the Black Bull of Norroway, The Enchanted Pig, and East of the Sun, West of the moon are a few examples found on this site).

The Fitcher Bird, Pretty Polly, and the aforementioned Lucia all out wit their Mr. (devilish, bluebearded) Foxes.

Anyway, Iím not trying to make some Adamís Rib (Hepburn and Tracy) argument that, since fairytale heroes kill for good reasons and bad, fairytale heroines should be considered positive role models for doing the same. But I don't think some of the good girls deserve applause, either. If you can befriend chipmunks and watch your stepmother die with the same calm, then you arenít the heroine for me. I do think there are some good and tough figures, which I tried to list above. Any and always, have a lovely evening!





Jess
Unregistered User
(8/15/03 8:53 pm)
Putting things into context
I just thought that I might add a little legal perspective to the horribles done the villians in these stories. During the middle ages, a common "trial" was by ordeal - think burning witches at the stake. Perhaps the gruesome nature of some of the endings to these tales - the witch thrown in the oven, the evil mother wearing the red hot shoes, the ogress being chopped to pieces and boiled - relate back to the early days of the tales when actual "justice" was meted out in a similar manner.

Jess

Terri
Registered User
(8/16/03 12:48 am)
Re: Putting things into context
Artsfan, it's difficult to continue this discussion with you when you haven't yet read earlier versions. Perhaps if you could do so, and perhaps take a look at Marina Warner's "From the Beast to the Blonde" as well, this discussion might prove more fruitful. Just a suggestion; I mean to cause no offense here and apologize if I have.

Edited by: Terri at: 8/16/03 12:49 am
artsfan
Unregistered User
(8/16/03 7:06 pm)
Re: Putting things into context
No, there was no offense taken at all. I really enjoy coming to this site to discuss with all of you because there are so many good points that are made. I have thought over and over about fairy tales, and yet when I come to this site, someone writes something, and a story can take on an entirely different angle. Things I've never thought of before are suddenly brought into perspective. I'm sure that some things that I have written may have taken on a negative tone, and for that I apologize. That is not my intent at all. I really consider all of you friends in a sense. Here, I can discuss topics that are of my interest, and I am certainly thankful for that!

janeyolen
Registered User
(8/17/03 3:00 am)
Re: Putting things into context
Jess--years ago I went to a fairy tale conference At Princeton University, and an international lawyer gave a paper in which he discussed laws on the books that were reflected in fairy tale endings: rolling a convicted liar down a hill in a barrel filled with vipers; burning witches, etc. It was fascinating. I never saw it published though, and would love to have a copy.


Jane

Don
Registered User
(8/17/03 6:44 am)
Re: Putting things into context
Jane, perhaps the paper you heard is the one published in Bottigheimer's Fairy Tales and Society--i.e., Gerhard O. W. Mueller's "The Criminological Significance of the Grimms' Fairy Tales." The book contains the papers from the 1985 conference on Fairy Tales and Society held at Princeton.

Edited by: Don at: 8/17/03 6:44 am
janeyolen
Registered User
(8/17/03 1:42 pm)
Depends...
Wow--really?????I don't have that. Must find it ASAP. Thanks, Don.

Jane

Jess
Unregistered User
(8/17/03 11:04 pm)
Sounds fascinating
Thanks, Don and Jane. I wonder where one could get a copy of that book. Don, any suggestions? I am always excited when my areas of interest intersect.

Jess

Don
Registered User
(8/18/03 1:42 pm)
Re: Sounds fascinating
Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion, and Paradigm was published in 1986 by the University of Pennsylvania Press, but it's apparently no longer in print. You might check the usual places for used copies.

Jess
Unregistered User
(8/18/03 4:59 pm)
Righto!
And thanks again, Don. May be quite a search though.

Jess

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