AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

No Net Ensnares Me: Marriage, Stock Roles, and the Beauty Myth in Feminist Retellings of Fairy Tales

by Giulia Genevieve Pink

Institution: University of Detroit Mercy
Year: 2015
Keywords: Fairy Tales, Feminism, Charlotte Bronte, Angela Carter, Christine Heppermann
Record ID: 2058727
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10429/782


No Net Ensnares Me: Marriage, Stock Roles, and the Beauty Myth in Feminist Retellings of Fairy Tales examines feminist adaptations of fairy tales in order to analyze the cultural norms inscribed in folklore as well as the ideology of the revisionist texts. Adaptation allows feminist authors to reframe the possible plotlines for female characters, thus critiquing traditional gender roles and the narrative forms that have circumscribed women’s lives. I take three pivotal texts as case studies: Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel Jane Eyre, Angela Carter’s 1979 collection of short stories The Bloody Chamber, and Christine Heppermann’s 2014 volume of poetry and photography Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. The diversity of these texts is both historical and generic, facilitating a comparative approach that highlights the particular cultural pressures and gendered morals each text is reacting against. In Jane Eyre, Bronte challenges the traditional marriage plot and reinscribes the role of “savior” as one that defies gender stereotypes. Ultimately, however, she is unable to imagine a denouement for the novel that does not rely on heterosexual love, which is, arguably, also a controlled and hindered love. In The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter critiques stock roles for female characters and creates new, complex characters for readers in the height of second-wave feminism. In Poisoned Apples, Christine Heppermann challenges society’s traditional and gendered morals through a collection of poetry and photography. Through this intertextuality, she critiques society’s pressure on women to take on traditional roles and to ostracize those who do not. In the coda to the thesis, I examine the most recent film adaptation of “Cinderella” and argue that this loose retelling of Disney’s 1950 cartoon, while providing a wider range of roles for women, punishes the women who act outside of traditional moral roles and only provides benefits for women who invest their worth into the men who pursue them.