ABLE OF CONTENTS
DEVELOPMENT OF GENDER IN GRIMM AND DISNEY
BRINGING TOGETHER GRIMM AND DISNEY CONCRETE
ANALYSIS OF GENDER
RINCESS AND THE
BENEFIT OF TEACHING GENDER THROUGH FAIRYTALE
ADAPTIONS LIKE DISNEY'S THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
Listening to marvelous tales and stories is and has always been omnipresent in children's life.
Everyone knows the Brothers Grimm and Disney who are popular for their fantastic stories.
Mothers started reading these fairytales to their children and later on also school deals with
these stories. Moreover, these stories have been patterns for many Disney movies that have
become omnipresent and essential in todays media (cf. Haase 2004: 30). Especially Disney is
very popular among young students and it also gets more and more popular among grown
ups. Knowing this, it is obvious that children are likely to identify with these stories. Every
year, Disney still publishes new films and many of these films are adaptions of older and
more traditional Grimm fairytales. Consequently, it is important to analyze views and values
that are presented in these newer films in comparison to older and more traditional Grimm
fairytales. It is also possible that today's children experienced Grimm's stories and the
adapted Disney stories which might raise questions because of their depiction of women.
These representations of gender identity and behavior of children in particular might have
strong effects on children like Liebermann stated that "[w]e must consider the possibility that
the classical attributes of femininity found in these stories are in fact imprinted in children and
reinforced by the stories themselves". Consequently, a comparison of Disney films and
traditional fairytales offers a great possibility to teach gender in the EFLC classroom.
The first part of this work will focus on a theoretical background by offering a
description of gender roles and depictions in Grimm and Disney in order to promote the
understanding of the two genres. Moreover, there will be a focus on the development of
Disney's gender depiction because of the obvious change in their portrayal of female
The second part will then take these theoretical ideas and background information and
apply them to two concrete stories by Grimm and Disney. Firstly, the fairytale Der
Froschkönig oder der eiserne Heinrich will be analyzed concerning its depiction of gender.
Secondly, Disney's adapted film The Princess and the Frog will also be analyzed according
to its depiction of gender and the change that has been made since Grimm's story.
The third part deals with the concrete benefits of teaching gender through these two
stories. This chapter will also focus on the teaching potential of these Disney films and the
learning outcome. To sum up, the third part of this work illustrates the potential that a
comparison of Grimms' and Disney's depiction of gender offers.
All in all, the main goal of this work is to enhance the understanding of older and
newer storytelling concerning gender and its benefits for the EFLC. In particular, two popular
examples of gender depiction in Grimm and Disney will serve as a concrete idea for teaching
gender in the EFLC.
Development of Gender in Grimm and Disney
2.1 Princesses and Farmers Girls - Gender in Grimm's Fairytales
Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen are unquestionable the most popular and momentous
fairytale collection of the world (cf. Gobrecht 1996: 112). Because of its popularity Grimm's
fairytales have a huge impact on society's values and rules. It can also be assumed that
Grimm's fairytales tend to reflect the values that were accepted during former times or that
they were aiming to criticize these values (cf. Zipes 1989: 1). Furthermore, these fairytales
have often been patterns for later fairytales or fairytale adaptions (cf. Zipes 2012: 58).
Due to the fact that Grimm's fairytales offer many topics that can be analyzed in the
EFLC, it is important to focus on one main topic. Consequently, the following chapter will
only deal with gender roles in Grimm's fairytales, especially female roles. Different sexes and
their characteristics are often made subject of discussion in their stories. Even the titles of
their stories suggest that women and men are different: "Der Fischer und seine Frau" which is
part of the so called Gender-Spezifik (cf. Röhrich 2002: 10). It is also popular in Grimm's
fairytales that they are highly men-oriented although one of five tale deals with the
relationship between men and women (cf. ibid.). Another popular topic in these fairytales is
the female dream of marriage and a happy life. This happy life can often only be achieved by
marrying a good and wealthy prince. "[T]hey lived happily ever after" (Grimm 2015: 23)
reflects this idea of marrying and then living an endless and happy life. All in all, there are
gender specific roles and gender role expectations (cf. Röhrich 2002: 12) for women and men
that are also popular among students. These gender specific roles aim to help the audience
identifying with the characters and to build up expectations in the student's mind.
Female gender roles can be classified into categories according to the expectations that
apply for each category (cf. Gobrecht 1996: 20). One traditional way of displaying women is
to create two women who compete with each other. One good woman fights against the bad
and villainous other woman to achieve her happily ever after (cf. ibid.). Another gender role
can be classified as girls in their adolescence. Being a young girl in Grimm's fairytales means
waiting innocently in a hidden place to be found by a prince (cf. ibid.). For example Sleeping
Beauty had to wait to be kissed and saved by her prince. Waiting passively is essential for this
category. Poor but good and hard-working girls can be put into another category (cf. ibid.:21).
These girls suffer from their work but they do not give up until they fulfill their dreams.
Although they are being characterized by hard working and strong-willed, a men or a bad
stepmother is suppressing them. Cinderella can serve as a perfect example for this category.
She is good hearted and hard working but she can still not escape from her misfortune until
she has finally found her prince who captures her from the suppression of her stepmother.
Moreover, Grimm's fairytales display the most popular category of women: the beautiful
princesses (cf. ibid.). Their beauty mostly characterizes these princesses. For example Snow
White is being described to be "[a]s white as snow, as red as blood, and as red as ebony
wood"(cf. Grimm 2015: 89). But being beautiful does not save Snow White because the
Queen takes her in many times before she finally eats the poisoned apple. Her guilelessness
brings her in the position to be in need of help. As already mentioned, most of the females
protagonists are not capable of living and surviving on their own. On the other hand, the
Grimm brothers also tell stories about strong, intelligent and aggressive women. These female
characters are portrayed as being an exception or different. Although they do not appear very
often it is important to mention that they do appear. These women show that the brothers
Grimm still wanted their audience to identify with their protagonist. All in all, these different
categories show that Grimm's fairytales display many different female characters but they
always stick to traditional values and role expectations (cf. Gobrecht 1996: 22). These role
expectations are also implemented into student's heads.
2.2 Wicked Witches and Sleeping Beauties - Gender in Disney
Disney has always dealt with gender and different implications of gender in society, as it is
famous for its movies about wicked witches and sleeping beauties. But over time the way of
working with and displaying gender has changed a lot. In its movies, Disney attempted to
Excerpt out of 14 pages
- Quote paper
- Katharina Dorn (Author), 2017, Teaching Gender through Fairytale Adaptions. Using the Brothers Grimm and Disney in the Classroom, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/376038