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: