Once upon an ideology: exploring the ideologies and identities of female figures through a selection of classic and contemporary fairy tales
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This thesis examines the ideologies and identities of women in selected traditional and contemporary fairy tales. It does this by utilising existing folklore theory but also by drawing on various literary theory theoretical approaches to ensure a comprehensive and rigorous analysis. It draws on the schools of deconstruction, feminism and psychoanalysis to analyse the role of the female in fairy tales, and also, to examine how the ideologies governing them affect identity construction, and also the representations of female identity in contemporary culture. The texts analysed are divided into two sections. The first section uses the literary texts of Cinderella and its modern counterpart Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and also explores the traditional tale of Bluebeard along with the contemporary envisioning The Bloody Chamber. The second section analyses modern interpretive filmic texts, which lend a voice to the previously silent figures of the traditional tales. The texts to be discussed are Frozen, Maleficent and Snow White and the Huntsman. This project engages with traditional and contemporary fairy tales, in both literary and filmic genres. It examines these texts as vehicles of gender ideology, and also as agents of change in that ideological position. This project suggests that contemporary tales, such as Frozen and Maleficent, offer a fresh ideological perspective, which complicates and humanises the previously one-dimensional evil female figure. It will look at how these modern representations struggle against the binary oppositions of good versus evil perpetuated by traditional tales. The analysis is not limited to the female figures in situ, as it also shows how the fears and issues of these representations are reflected in contemporary society. It interrogates the dynamic between the tales as constituted by prevailing ideologies and between the tales as instruments of ideological change. It examines the relationship between female identity and the beauty myth, and also looks at process of the commodification of beauty in these stories.
Fairy tales and gender