This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Feminine Bits: The Passive Bodies and Active Revisions of Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Red Riding-hood




Ross, Alyssa

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation




Using an interdisciplinary approach that includes sociological data, feminist and postmodern theory, and historical context, I analyze gendered representations of violence and sexuality in contemporary fairy tales, arguing against woman’s often-unconscious perpetuation of our own oppressive stereotypes, such as the victim, virgin, seductress, and witch. My study recounts the matrilineal roots of several folk tales with female protagonists – Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Red Riding-hood – and addresses the first recorded versions written by Charles Perrault and the Grimm Brothers. These character histories aid my analysis of the subsequent feminist revisionary narratives and verses. Each of the revisions I address, compared with the Grimm or Perrault referent, demonstrate a transvaulation of values for women. Revisionary narratives react to the preexisting, passive depictions of folk heroines in an attempt to change the way we view and understand women and their relationship to sex and violence. This article advocates for representations of women in situations of low-risk anger expression. My analyses also give specific consideration for whether feminism and heteronormative culture allow women a space to represent their anger and, if so, of what that space consists.