Create a new account

It's simple, and free.

Gender roles in literature

Gender roles as portrayed in literature of earlier periods ("Snow White" and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) are significantly different from those portrayed more recently (The House on Mango Street). Each piece, along with its gender depictions, is roughly typical of its time, reflecting, from "Snow White" to Tom Sawyer to Mango Street, a growing consciousness of females as fully human beings with far more on their minds and in their hearts than an obsession with their physical beauty or their identity only as it relates to men.

That obsession with beauty is at the heart of the character of the wicked Queen in the Grimm Brothers' "Snow White." The Queen is a one-dimensional female stereotype, concerned with nothing but being the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. When the mirror tells her that not she but Snow White is the most beautiful, she launches the first of several assassination attempts on Snow White. The Queen, then, is portrayed as a woman incapable of growth or depth, incapable of anything but the egoistic pursuit of fame through beauty. She meets a hideous fate for her murderous pursuit of being the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, sentenced to dancing to her death in "red-hot iron shoes" (Grimm 46).

Snow White, the purported heroine of the story, shows no heroic qualities whatsoever. She is another stereotype--the beautiful, passive female with little or no intelligence, doomed because of her naivete and helplessness--were it not for the charming prince riding to the rescue. She is a victim with no resources of her own to draw on. The one action she takes for her own survival is to beg the huntsman for mercy, and even then he responds not to her pleas primarily but to the fact that "she was so lovely" (Grimm 41). In other words, her beauty has gotten her into her trouble (through the Queen's envy), and her beauty saves her once (the woodsman scene), twice (the dwarves--also rescuing males), and three times (t...

Page 1 of 11 Next >

More on Gender roles in literature...

APA     MLA     Chicago
Gender roles in literature. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:06, November 29, 2021, from