Cassie Lathrope ’26
Fairy tales should be rewritten to better reflect our modern society’s values and beliefs.
Many Disney fairy tales we all know from childhood have been changed numerous times from their original oral telling. Therefore, the stories should continue evolving to put a stop to the sexist and patriarchal beliefs they uphold.
On Nov. 1, St. Michael’s College put on a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. This version, which was released in 1965, is very similar to Walt Disney’s Cinderella.
The storyline follows a young beautiful girl who is forced into a life of servitude by her self-centered stepmother and stepsisters.
Cinderella longs for the chance to attend the prince’s royal ball, but her sisters and stepmother will do anything to prevent this from happening. With the help of a fairy godmother, Cinderella can attend the ball as a princess and meet her prince.
In Cinderella, the evil stepmother and stepsisters reinforce the sexist trope that women are a constant threat to one another. This stereotype is played out similarly in stories like Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty.
The women in these stories will do whatever it takes to gain an upper hand on each other, telling young girls they are not able to trust each other.
It is almost always specified that the “evil” female characters in the story lack the physical attractiveness that the main character was “gifted.” This emphasizes the message that a woman’s youthfulness and beauty are what often save her from a life of misery.
The hero in each one of these stories is often a rich and handsome prince who can fulfill all of the main character’s dreams of escaping the life she is stuck in.
The female characters in the stories are painted as victims, in constant need of a man to come and rescue them from their troubles. It is constantly implied that women gain their worth through marriage to a strong man.
Fairy tales aim to teach good morals to young children. However, many of the stories we see as classics fail to empower young women in the ways that they should.
Fairy tales have changed and developed over time to better fit the period they are being told in. Oral stories were written and adapted by The Brothers Grimm, German folktale publishers in the 19th century. These were modified again by Disney in the 1920s.
These tales must continue to adapt as they have before. Allow Cinderella to be encouraged by strong women in her life, rather than dragged down. Let Sleeping Beauty’s cunningness save her from the curse, rather than a handsome prince.