The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

Published: 2021-06-17 08:21:28
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Fairytales are meant to educate people and show them how and what they should be doing in their lives. We choose the fairytales we narrate based on our audience needs and on what we want the outcome of the story to be. Sleeping beauty is a world-renowned fairytale that has such a huge influence that there is not a child that has never come in contact with sleeping beauty or one of its thousand variations found in every corner of the world. The authors that compose such fairytales have to be very careful with what themes and ideas they include because a fairy tale is a way for a small child to create a window to the adult world. For the purpose of our literary voyage, we will be focusing on the fairytale “ The sleeping beauty in the woods” written by Charles Perrault and more specifically, I would like to explore the passive nature of the heroine and how she affects society’s standards for women.
The character that we place under the microscope is the phenomenal protagonist of the fairytale, Sleeping beauty herself. After reading the story, we can conclude that she is a passive character because of her not taking any action in many cases that she should have acted. A deeper analysis of the character shows that sleeping beauty is a young, beautiful, rich, good-hearted woman. Could there be a correlation between her traits that make her passive or is it just a coincidence? . A good place to start our research is on the name given to the character. “The very name Sleeping Beauty invokes a double movement between a passive gerund (sleeping) and a descriptive noun (beauty) that invites a retinal response”(Tatar 144). From that quote, we can tell that her passive nature has something to do with her being female. In Perreault’s version, we see how the female character can be more passive than the male characters, but that does not hold true for every character, for example, the evil Queen/ her mother in law(Stone 46). In order to get deeper into why does her feminine nature matters, we have to look further in her characteristics and see what makes her different from the rest females. Her beauty sets her apart from the rest of her female counterparts. The beautiful heroine versus the ugly antagonist is a very popular theme is fairytales and we see it being enforced two times in this story, one in the wicked fairy and the ogre-like queen(Stone 44). However, this contrast in beauty is not the spark that causes the conflict, but it just adds up to the reasons why the conflict is happening. In this version of the sleeping beauty though, we see that beauty is associated with femininity and it results in passiveness(Stone 47).This last sentence points to the brainwash of the young female population that has been happening for years and still goes on in our day. No matter the age or the society we examine, there can be found little girls that want to appear pretty. This fairytale takes advantage of the natural need of humans to look beautiful and adds on stereotypes that want women subjugated and passive(Fay 266). Sleeping beauty is one of the fairytales that we can argue that the main protagonist is so passive that we cannot define her a heroine. ” Heroes succeed because they act, not because they are. They are judged not by their appearance or inherent sweet nature but by their ability to overcome obstacles, even if these obstacles are defects in their own characters. Heroines are not allowed any defects, nor are they required to develop, since they are already perfect”(Stone 48). That kind of heroine is only empowered by their appearance and their beauty, so calling sleeping beauty a heroine, even though she is the protagonist, for her beauty does not sympathize with the idea of the action hero. Female aggression or any activism from the beautiful girl is deemed unnecessary due to the fact that everything is set for her. Her beauty aligned with her obedience will grant her a husband to take care of her(Fay 260).
Sleeping beauty loses its essence as a human being and becomes a pawn in the hands of her husband, waiting for orders so she can do the only thing she knows and serve him(Tatar 144). This passiveness of sleeping beauty attributes to something much bigger than a theme in a couple of fairy tales, but a theme in society, where women of that age were manipulated from a young age to behave accordingly(Tatar 146). Perrault wrote the fairytale with the good intention to entertain young children of generations to come and pass on the social value of his time. However, it turned out to be a bit shadier than anticipated. The long-lasting fruit of beauty that everyone desires was transformed into bait for young girls; exploited their basic human need to look beautiful and turn them into puppets controlled by men. In order for girls to achieve the beauty of the heroine, they would have to act like her and voluntarily set themselves up like pigs to the slaughter.

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