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?

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