Gender Stereotypes in Cinderella (ATU 510A) and The Princess on the Glass Mountain (ATU 530)


  • Kärri Toomeos-Orglaan University of Tartu


fairy tale, interpretation, gender stereotypes, active male, passive female


One of the best-known role-based stereotypes in European fairy tales is that of an active male and a passive female. Awareness of such a stereotype is connected with the feminist approach that criticises the domination of the male point of view in fairy tales and the depiction of women from the position of men. The article focuses on analysing if and how the stereotype is realised in the context of two fairy tale types – Cinderella (ATU 510A) and The Princess on the Glass Mountain (ATU 530). According to Bengt Holbek, fairy tales as symbolic texts are closely connected to the real world as they refer to the latter through fantastic phenomena and events. Holbek is interested in the meaning of magical elements in the living tradition: according to him the world of fairy tales does not reflect the real world directly, but reveals the storytellers’ and their audiences’ ideas of what the latter should be like. What emerges as an important question is whose vision is transmitted by such fairy tale interpretations; whether researchers are able to interpret the meanings the tales might have had for the storytellers, or whether it is just the viewpoint of the researcher that is reflected.


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