The hidden problem with fairy tales

This semester I found myself taking a class about fairy tales with an emphasis on the creations of the Grimm brothers. Anyone who knows me is aware of the love I hold for Disney and the tales which led to their creation. In the class, though, I was forced to reexamine the things I had fell in love with. It was during these readings of the tales that I realized that there was a large problem with the stories I had placed upon a pedestal.

Within almost every tale involving a female protagonist, she is never the hero of her own story. She complacently sits and waits for a hero to save her. This hero, of course, is typically a prince or strong male character who is more than willing to save the day. It made me wonder why women couldn't use cunning tricks to save themselves. The only active female characters in the tales are the villains. Why is it that the women who actively try to change their situation are vilified.

Of course, this can just be an analysis that goes too deep. Fairy tales are meant to entertain and sometimes it's just nice to read about a happy ending. However, I believe that when passing these fairy tales down to future generations, we should make it our duty to tell children that they are responsible for their own endings. That they don't need to wait around to be saved. That they will not be a villain for striving for their goals. Unless those goals are particularly villainous in which case discouragement would be best.

As someone who grew up on fairy tales, I don't think I'll ever get rid of the urge to have my own happily ever after. However, I'd like to think that now I can strive to write my own story rather than following the model which had been laid out before me.

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