Patriarchy in Fairy Tales: A Feminist Literary Analysis

Mirror Mirror begins with Snow locked away by the Queen. This however soon changes, as when Snow becomes eighteen she decides to defy the Queen, venturing out of the castle. While on her Journey she not only witnesses the destitution that has fallen upon her kingdom, but encounters the handsome Prince Alcott whom she quickly grows a liking to. Despite the Queen’s attempts to charm him, Prince Alcott falls for angelic Snow White. Fuelled by her Jealousy, the Queen sends her faithful servant Brighton to murder Snow in the woods.

However, charmed by her beauty and loyal to her late father, Brighton is unable to accomplish his task and lets the girl go. Meanwhile, as the diabolical queen schemes to win the heart of Prince Alcott with the help of Brighton, Snow White befriends a gang of thieving dwarfs who help her to reclaim her rightful place in the kingdom and win back the man of her dreams. No longer powerful, the Queen becomes a haggard looking old woman. Her tired exterior is now matching the lack of beauty within her.

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As a last attempt to cast Snow aside, she offers her a poisonous apple. The apple has been a symbol of sin and temptation since the biblical story of Adam and Eve. Snow White, smart enough to realism the trick, charmingly refuses. All end up living happily, besides the evil queen of course. The evil queen is portrayed as an older powerful woman, aiming to destroy innocent Snow White. There is no room for the Queen’s redemption, and none makes her more than a foolish woman past her prime who is usurping the rightful place of youth and beauty.

There is a lack of information in regards to the Queen. A reason as to her current obsessive state is not given. She is simply shown as yet another stereotypical insane, Jealous, and moody woman. The Prince arrogantly blames her mental state on his own presence, stating, “Women always get crazy when there’s a prince around. Other than her loyal servant Brighton, the Queen does not have any men in her life. By escaping the typical female role of subservience to men, she alienates other men in her life. Each of her multiple marriages has been a failure.

With this, the film suggests that powerful women cannot hold relationships with men, and that in turn, being a powerful woman is in fact an unattractive quality. This only reaffirms the patriarchal society of which women have been trying to break from for centuries. When ruling on her own, the Queen consistently finds herself with a lack of funds to support the kingdom. The Queen is only able to successfully rule and to obtain enough money to support the kingdom when she is tied to a man. She has been married five times, each time necessary to get the kingdom back on its feet.

When the Queen is yet again in debt, she plans a lavish ball in order to woo Prince Alcott. The Queen only confirms her intentions when she states, “The Prince is rich, he’s built like an ox, I’m going to marry him and then my financial problems will be solved. ” Husband number six is the answer to her current problems. It is not as though she could win his love in the traditional manner. It is necessary for the Queen to become beautiful and to put up the appearance of wealth in order to gain the Prince’s interest.

Mirror Mirror however, surprises viewers when this beautiful set up fails to charm Prince Alcott. Contrary to most fairy tales, within this film the Queen is not portrayed as having an unattractive appearance. She is actually quite pretty. Yet despite this exterior beauty, Prince Alcott still chooses Snow White. The film manages to break away from the idea that all women require to impress is a beautiful exterior. This suggests that there is more than Just exterior beauty. Prince Alcott chose Snow because she was dutiful inside and out.

In this version of the fairy tale romance, Snow White manages to fight back against the wicked Queen, rather than taking a passive role in her own story. This is the biggest focus of the film, the idea of turning Snow White into a strong, independent princess. Snow herself even says, “l read so many stories where the prince saves the princess in the end… I think it’s time we change that ending. ” The problem is the action is not consistent with the theme. All this independence works not to empower Snow, but rather free her father from the Queen’s enchantment so that he can take over as ruler again.

Snow may have had an absent father for most of the film, but in Joining the dwarfs she gains seven father fugues. Each of them cares for her as if she were their own family. Only once she is to marry Prince Alcott does she part from the seven men. Snow White travels from one form of control to another, passing from the daughter role to the wife role. In order to remain protected and happy Snow seems to require a male figure in her life. Despite the attempt to focus on her independence, the film only shows that she is unable to function on her own and that she does in fact require the guidance of a man.

Rather than Snow becoming the new ruler of the Kingdom, as she is now of a proper age, her father reaffirms his position as King. She is too busy with her new marriage and too in love to properly handle such a role. Now that the Queen is gone and the King has reclaimed his thrown, the kingdom is suddenly Joyous and prosperous yet again. With a woman ruler, the kingdom was poor and the townspeople angry, but the restitution off king is the answer to inequality and poverty. The bias between genders here is quite clear.

In viewing things through a feminist lens, one is able to realism how things are influenced by gender bias. A majority of media and literature, even modern literature, exemplify a patriarch. Even in fairy tales we see patriarchy. While biology determines our sex (male or female), culture determines our gender (masculine or feminine). Gender issues play a part in every aspect of human production and experience, including the production and experience of literature, whether we are consciously aware of these issues or not. Through feminist literary analysis, one is able to become aware of these issues.

Examining such specimens of popular folktales such as Snow White through the lens of enemies literary analysis is a means of deconstructing that which has shaped our expectations of men, romance, and ourselves in general. Themes of dreaming and enchantment add to the potency of fairy tales. Similar illusions, although not depicted quite so literally, can be found in various examples of media and literature. Such fantasies allow for many to miss what the true message portrayed is. Oftentimes we are unconscious to the heroine’s inability to be self-assertive, willing bondage to father and prince, and her restriction to matronly duties.

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