Sunday, May 20, 2012


Bluebeard is sad story about a husband that murdered his wives, his reason for doing so was the fact that they did not obey his commands. Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter is a feminist view on the story of Bluebeard it is a very interesting way of looking at the story because it hints at some anythings, for example the fact that women didn't have a choice in who they were to marry, and that they simply did for the estate and the riches that the husband may have possessed.

As the girl receives this beautiful wedding dress from her future husband, her strong mother (as described in the story) asks her the following: 
"Are you sure you love him?" with the girl just saying " I'm sure I want to marry him" and with that the conversation ends and the mother doesn't ask her again. This was interesting because it points out the fact that women did not marry for love, they simply married because that was what was expected of them, and if the husband had ways of supporting his wife, then even better. I feel like the mother should have been more upset because she was described as being this strong woman, who accomplished very much in her life, but still that still did not seem to change the fact that these women were living at a point in history where women didn't have a choice. Love him or not you will marry him if you wanted to have support for the remainder of your life.

I also love the ending of the story and how instead of having the older brother save his sister from this evil man, the strong mother comes to her aid. This story is very refreshing from the original version of Bluebeard  and makes you very happy because it encourages women to understand that they do have the power to make their own decisions no matter what the circumstances might be, and that women have the power so stand up to evil men who mistreat them. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Curse of the Stepmother. Hansel and Gretel

When reading the story of Hansel and Gretel you start to understand how women were viewed at that time in history and you may become very concerned. Even though the Father (male figure in the story) was suppose to be the good one, it was still very disturbing that he even agreed the first time to take the children out into the forest to get eaten by wild animals just to stop his wife's bickering! The only character that came out good to me was Hansel (who always tried to find a way to save himself and his sister).  There are to versions of the story of Hansel and Gretel, the one from 1812 and the final edition that came out in 1857 which has a stepmother instead of the mother (representing the female figure). In both stories the mother and the stepmother are painted as selfish, mean, heartless women that seem to not care about to little children (stepchildren or not). The final edition of the story is really harsh, and as I was reading it I would get more upset.

For example both mothers do not paint a picture of motherhood, if anything they hate their children to even suggest that they should be put into the woods and not be able to find their way home.

The difference in the women: First written story of Hansel and Gretel with their mother: "If you don't do it," said the woman, "all of us will starve together," and she gave him no peace until he said yes.

"Oh, you fool," she said, "then all four of us will starve. All you can do is to plane the boards for our coffins." And she gave him no peace until he agreed.
"But I do feel sorry for the poor children," said the man.

Of course the stepmother is the one that comes across being the more harsh one out of the both versions. However, what is the most upsetting part that no good mother would ever let her children come to any harm, but both versions make it seem like women are evil and would put their own needs in front of their children's.  In our society that is not the case, and yes there are evil women out there, who may fit the profile of this mother figure that is portrayed in the Hansel and Gretel story but that sure is  not the case for the majority of mothers out there. This fairytale makes it seem like the father is better and the mothers are not. Women once more are said to be the evil ones, what is more disturbing is the fact that in the end when Hansel and Gretel finally return to their home they are greeted by the happy father and find out that the evil mothers are dead now and that is the happy ending? Really?

Riding Hood and the Wolf

The Company of Wolves" by Angela Carter is a story of "Little Red Riding Hood" from a feminist point of view. I personally have to say that this was a really interesting story to read and I did not expect the ending to turn out the way that it did, but it surprised me in a good way. I enjoyed this story because Little Red Riding Hood was not a victim in this story and she was able to outsmart the wolf using the same tactics that he used. A great quote from beginning of the story that Carter uses to describe the wolf: The wolf is the most dangerous creature for he cannot listen to reason" it goes on to explain that the wolf is a predator that prays on women in children for they are the weak ones. The children are so afraid of the wolf that the carry knifes if they have to go out into the darkness of the wilderness.In Carter's story Little Red Riding transforms into a woman (implied when she starts her menstrual cycle) and with this new chapter in her life she feel empowered, and a strong woman who can things herself. When she is faced with the wolf, she does not become the pray of the predator, instead she uses her sexuality against the sexuality of the wolf. By not fearing the wolf and by kissing him before he kisses her she takes all the power he has over her away from him. I think that part of the story was genius because Carter is able to retell the story of Little Red Riding as that of a woman and not a girl, and a strong woman at that, which was refreshing because of how many stories there are about LRRH and she is not clever or strong, but naive and weak.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


When I was little I grew up with the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It was one of my favorite bedtime stories that I would love to hear before going to bed and my mom would always tell it to me. I grew up in Belarus, Minsk (used to be part of USSR), so I've known the Russian version of Little Red Riding Hood forever. In Russia the story of Little Red Riding Hood is considered to be big deal to children and adults that grew up with it. (they even have candy dedicated to Little Red Riding Hood).

There is also a famous Soviet Union movie of Little Red Riding Hood which was one of my most favorite movies of all time. The Storyline was very close to the PG version that children usually grow up listening to, but the Little Red Riding Hood in this movie was not gullible nor naive. Every time she would run into the wolf, she would out smart him in some way and keep going on her way to get to grandma's house. All the way she makes friends who help her and make sure nothing bad happens on her journal to grandma's house because she was so friendly and nice, but at the same time a very smart girl who knew who to trust and who not to trust.

          This is the link to a clip from the movie, where Little Red Riding Hood is sing on her way to grandma's through the forest:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Disney Changed Fairytales

As a child I really loved Disney cartoons. I grew up in Belarus, Minsk and getting your hands on some Dinsey cartoons for your children was very difficult, but my parents would always able to get some some for Christmas or my birthday. I think that some of of my top favorites out my whole collection of Disney animation was The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Beauty and The Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Aladdin. 
I remember watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so many times and not one time do I ever feel like I learned something useful from it as child, it was just something fun to watch from time to time and that was what Walt Disney did to some classical fairy tales like Snow White. When fairy tales were first told to children they were suppose to teach them something, give them some sort of life lesson as Zipes mentions in his article "Breaking the Disney Spell" but once Disney broke through in the animation business he worked hard on making sure he will live on forever through if animation cartoons. He was able to do so by even more so changing the gender role of Snow White in his take on the fairytale. 

Disney represented Snow White as orphan, who's job was to sing and clean and be innocent to the evil world around her almost. That was how she was able to gain the attention of her prince charming. Then Disney went on to show another side of women (that women themselves should never show) jealously, cunning, aware of how the world works and knowing that beauty among women is judged the highest by men. The evil queen spotted the fact that Snow White was prettier than she was and wanted to eliminate the competition. With that Dinsey stuck with the storyline, he later on went on to add singing and dancing animals that would help her cook and clean. The ending of Snow White was really what changed! "Snow White does not return to life when a dwarf stumbles while carrying the glass coffin as in the Grimms' tale. She returns to life when the prince, who searched far and wide for her, arrives and bestows a kiss on her lips. His kiss of love is the only antidote to the queen's poison."

This sends out a message to little girls that they have to be innocent and not know how the world works because that would in the end bring them love and a handsome prince that will save them for all their trouble, sadly that is not how the world works.