Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fairy Tales and Ideals They Portray to Children

A take on Marica R. Liebermans ““Some Day My Prince Will Come”: Female Acculturation Through the Fairy Tale”

In order to begin to understand “Female Acculturation through the Fairytale” by Marcia R. Lieberman an understanding of the work “acculturation” is necessary. According to Merriam’s Dictionary, acculturation is defined as “cultural modification of an individual by adapting to or borrowing traits from another.” Or Alternatively, “the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy” (Merriam-Webster Online) Fairytales have “classical attributes” associated with females that give us the distinct possibility of having these traits acculturate the female from early stages of life.
Fairytales give children the impression that beauty is a girl’s most valuable asset. In almost all Fairytales, the main female characters are usually beautiful and well mannered. Beauty is something that all women worry and deal with. We see images of beauty everyday as adults and looking into Fairytales the same goes true for when we are children. In respect to Fairytales the beautiful women the one who ends up with the “happily ever after”. “They always want to know how things will “turn out”” (Lieberman 384) If we look at Snow White, Snow White is beautiful so much so that the huntsman cannot kill her, the dwarves take her into their care, and the prince wants her because of her beauty. One of the men saved her by accident, by hitting her back, which caused the apple piece to fall out. In the end, she ends up with the prince and with her “happily ever after”. 
“Anxiety, inadequacy and inferiority amongst women is psychologically proven to be caused by a fear of homeliness.” (Lieberman 385) The beautiful girl is the one who the prince chooses. She does not have to do very much to be chosen either. Snow White was lying in a coffin when the Prince chose her. Cinderella was cleaning but was chosen by the prince. The Fairy Tale women that the price chooses always described as being both beautiful and well mannered. “There are no examples of cross-pattern, that is, of plain good tempered girls.” (Lieberman 385)
Beauty tends to follow right alongside of passive roles. Many of the women in these tales are locked up in towers, guarded by dragons, etc. Cinderella never tries to leave her family even though they treat her badly. Even when she meets the prince and gives him the slipper, she still waits for him to arrive. Snow White never tried to get revenge on her mother; she just waited with the dwarfs until her mother came to try to kill her three times. These stories are ones in which “children learn that suffering goodness can afford to remain meek, and need not and perhaps should not strive to defend itself” (Lieberman 390) as when the women in Fairy Tales are passive someone comes to their rescue.
The fairytales that children are told are meant to be heartwarming stories about princesses and princes, heroes and heroics; stories that help encourage imagination. When parents read these stories to their children, they do not think about the other effects that Fairytales can have on their children. As you can see, when we took a closer look into several Fairytales, such as Cinderella or Snow White, we can see examples of how Fairytales can affect people from early stages of life. Just as we see images of the “ideal” beauty in everyday situations, we see these ideals of beauty portrayed in childhood Fairy Tales.

Works Cited

Lieberman, Marcia R. "Some Day My Prince Will Come; Female Acculturation through the Fairy Tale." College English (1972): 383-395.
"Merriam-Webster Online." An Encyclopedia Britannica Company. 20 February 2012.

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