The symbol of the female in fairytales and folktales is often interpreted in a weak and irresponsible way. Folktales are generally directed towards children and are created to teach a lesson or moral. Many folktales contain a woman character and involve death, destruction, and other dark symbols. Created in the past and passed down from generation to generation, these stories insinuate gender stereotypes. The [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimms%27_Fairy_Tales Grimms’ Tales], a collection of fairy tales published in 1812, have many such stories. Two stories that express gender stereotypes are “The Werewolf’s Daughter” and “Little Red Hat.”
Woman are weak, and men are strong…apparently. “The Werewolf’s Daughter” is a folktale from Slovakia that expresses the stereotype that women are fragile and weak figures, easily under the rule of men. In the story, the father is a werewolf who decides he is tired of having too many daughters and decides to kill them all. The fact that every daughter besides one were so easily killed without any resistance creates the stereotype within the story. It is also seen in the father who is very strong powerful beast. You’d think that the one daughter who actually escapes would find a way to defeat the father by herself and overcome adversity. Wrong. The daughter hides in a haystack until she is rescued by the king, another powerful and mighty man. She ends up marrying the king and having a happy life until one day her father kills her sons and the king automatically assumes she did it. Once again, the woman must be protected by a man and is thought to be a murderer by default. This adds on the stereotype that women cannot protect themselves and need to be rescued. It portrays them as “soft” and that they cannot survive without support.
Women aren’t smart or clever, right? According to the folktale “Little Red Hat,” this statement is true. In this tale, a young girl encounters an ogre who asks her where she is going. Without hesitation, or questioning herself or that she is talking to an ogre, she willingly tells him that she is headed to her grandmother’s house. The ogre kills the grandmother and puts her body parts all over the house. The ogre then tricks the girl in to eating her dead grandmother and convinces her to get in bed with him where he eats her! This whole story magnifies the stereotype in stories that females (especially children) are not smart enough to take care of themselves. The girl saw no problem in talking to a complete stranger, and an ogre at that. Furthermore, somehow the girl had no idea she was eating human parts and that the ogre was pretending to be her grandmother. Exploring these stereotypes reveals how women were portrayed throughout history in tales. Often seen as soft, gullible people, women have historically been displayed in a sexist and demeaning manner.
D2L Sources: Ashliman, D.L. "The Werewolf's Daughter." Werewolf's Daughter. Slovakia Folktale, 2000. Web. 05 Apr. 2017 " The Werewolf's Daughter" Slovakia Folktale-https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4877442/View
D2l Sources: "Little Red Hood." Little Red Hood http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0333.html#italy