Is Female Villainy All That Bad?: Evaluating Heroines in the Fairy Tales Grimm

Written by Carolina Eleni Theodoropoulos

Looking for heroines in the fairy tales Grimm can get very discouraging. Those few women who do have agency still fail—to my contemporary standards, at least—to qualify as heroines. Women in these stories do not ask for what they want (they probably don’t even know what they want as they haven’t been taught to search for it); they do not claim or define their own identity; they never refuse marriage or children or any task assigned to them, no matter how unfair. To be succinct, they never say no. They politely nod (no smiling) and acquiesce. So it remarkably seems to me—at risk of being controversial—that the closest figure to resemble a powerful, assertive heroine in the Grimm tales is the female villain.

Continue reading “Is Female Villainy All That Bad?: Evaluating Heroines in the Fairy Tales Grimm”

Shakespeare and the Problem with Proto-Feminism

Written Emily Ogden

Earlier this month, one of our contributing general staff members, Eleni Theodoropoulos, wrote an inaugural post for our “The Female Odyssey” column, about women and magic in fairy tales. Today, Emily Ogden contributes to that column as she talks about women in Shakespeare.

If you are a fan of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, then I apologize in advance for this installment of our “Female Odyssey” column, in which I may just ruin this play for you. Shakespeare is widely regarded as a “proto-feminist,” one ahead of his time due to the strong female characters that often appear in his Renaissance plays. While I agree that he writes women who “talk the talk”—there are plenty of sassy, brilliant ladies that outwit their male counterparts—as far as being allowed to :walk the walk,” these same women are often completely robbed of agency in his stories.

Continue reading “Shakespeare and the Problem with Proto-Feminism”

Tracking Witches from the Forest to the Home: Bewitched and the Fairy Tales Grimm

Written by Carolina Eleni Theodoropoulos

The realm of magic was always governed by women. Women are nymphs, they are jealous goddesses; they are lustful and vengeful monsters like Medusa, and dangerous women yielding destructive power like Pandora. In fairy tales they are witches, they are crones, they are evil stepmothers and hags. The norm in history and in the literature seems to be that magical women are to be burned, contained—but what happens when they resist?

Continue reading “Tracking Witches from the Forest to the Home: Bewitched and the Fairy Tales Grimm”