• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In feminist writing, numerous techniques are employed in order to gain liberation from many stereotypical representations of women in their society. Anne Sexton uses the strategy of rewriting fairy tales, which I find most ingenious.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

In feminist writing, numerous techniques are employed in order to gain liberation from many stereotypical representations of women in their society. Anne Sexton uses the strategy of rewriting fairy tales, which I find most ingenious. The is because fairy tales have been what many of us have held close to our hearts, yet Sexton unveils it to be a cold patriarchal invention. In her retelling, Sexton raises the idea that women internalize and perpetuate a patriarchal identity, which comes from her society's expectations, rules and norms. This identity consist of an ideal beauty and aspirations a woman strives to have, which I will explore in this discussion. Through her stark and naked portrayal of women, formed through the unapologetic tone she adopts in narrating the stories, Sexton strips the classic fairy tales of their deceptive allure and unmasks the gender inequality they perpetuate. In doing so, Sexton effectively strikes her message home, on how fairy tales-a representation of the social system-inspire us to develop into uninspired girls. Before I discuss how Sexton reveals the stereotypical representations of women in their society, I would first like to justify my claim on the hidden gender inequality present in fairy tales. Foremost, let me give a quick history of fairy tales. Men wrote fairy tales, in fact, almost all literature. According to Jacqueline law in her research essay "Sleeping Beauty on Exhibition", the Brothers Grimm "edited the tale to portray women in a chauvinistic way that adhered to cultural standards...and attempted to uphold the idea that beauty, rather than character, was a woman's most valuable asset." By modifying the tales, these patriarchal values were endorsed by the Brothers Grimm, setting versions of the ideal female and ideal feminine aspirations in motion through the tales Snow White and Cinderella for women to follow. ...read more.

Middle

Indeed, Sexton in her retelling of Cinderella exposes the ideal feminine aspiration, which is be chosen to be the 'lucky' one, to gain fulfillment in life, particularly through marriage. In Cinderella, Sexton outlines what I call the "American dream", where women, being conditioned through literature and culture, believe in the "rags to riches" stories. Many women hardly work and dreams of marriage to a partner one day, which will determine her ultimate social position, happiness and fulfillment in life. In her lengthy prologue, Sexton reiterates the stories we "always read about". These stories, in a male dominated literature, inspire people to gain success and fulfillment without hard work, such as, "from toilets to riches", "From diapers to Dior" and "from mops to Teller". She repeats at the end of each stanza, "that story". Indeed, "that story", women are familiar with because of the literature we are exposed and influenced by as we grow up. Sexton herself is familiar with it, for in her the Paris Review she states, "until i was twenty-eight i had a kind of buried self who didn't know she could do anything but make white sauce and diaper babies. I didn't know i had any creative depths. I was a victim of the American dream, the bourgeois, middle-class dream. All I wanted was a little piece of life, to be married, to have children.... I was trying ... to lead a conventional life, for that was how I was brought up, and it was what my husband wanted of me". Due to the influence of this cultural mindset, Sexton herself once pursues the American dream, which is to be married and lead a conventional life, to be rather uninspired and unconfident. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, she uses disdainful and unapologetic images such as the vacant-eyed and vacant mind motif of dolls to explicitly show us how women are objectified in a patriarchal system as discussed earlier. She also chooses to put a prologue before the stories, which we keep in mind as we read her rewriting of the fairy tale following it. Even though the tales are transcended through time through the use of the word "once", her tone remains, which is a very important and significant factor as her cynical, stark and apologetic tone, such as calling Snow White "dumb bunny" or the sarcastic remark that "the bird is important.. so heed him" constantly halts the magical allure of fairy tales and their true misogynistic nature. To conclude, Sexton in her rewriting of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, reveals two significant patriarchal values contributing to the patriarchal identity that women internalized and perpetuated through linage, which are ideal beauty and ideal aspirations. These have been internalized to the point where the female not only objectified themselves, she may also, allow me to claim, lose herself, for she willingly consumes a heart or slice off a body part. Those gory imageries women engage in serves to shock us; to see the extent to which women internalized the patriarchal identity. Not only have the female internalized it, she perpetuated the values of the patriarchal identity, through female linage. Therefore, Sexton, in her retellings, defamiliarizes what we are familiar with and deconstructed what many of us believed and accepted as we grew up. She lets us know that by wanting to be fair and relying on the male, we are being unfair to ourselves. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    How do Medea and Hedda Gabler combine tradition and unconventionality within their roles as ...

    3 star(s)

    By killing her sons, Jason is dealt a far graver blow than she could have accomplished by any other means. Whilst plotting her terrible deed, she recognises it potency by saying, "This is the way to deal Jason the deepest wound."

  2. Discuss how Kazuo Ishiguro uses Narrative Techniques in order to create a Reliably Unreliable ...

    It is evident that Stevens wanted her to return so much that he convinced himself that she wanted to return to Darlington hall in order to instigate a hope that she might return, or to make him pluck up the courage to go and see her.

  1. Extended Essay - A Dream Deferred Both Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby and ...

    things for [himself] and trying to forget something very sad that had happened to [him] long ago" (Fitzgerald 65-66) From Gatsby's explanation, it can be seen that he was brought up in a wealthy community. The tragedy that Gatsby talks about is his American Dream.

  2. Ibsen wanted to use his play A Dolls House to challenge the norms of ...

    He wanted her to be able to live up to his image in society. Nora decided that she could not take that sort of treatment. She wanted to start working and living for herself, not having to be tied down by social customs.

  1. Role of Women

    (Cather, 95). Throughout the novel, Antonia was probably the one who did the most work out of anyone. In the end when Jim returns to meet her we find out that she is still working even after she has born numerous children.

  2. Reflections on "Miss Julie" in a cultural context

    However, French language lost its respect because at that time in Sweden French was a language with high class used by intellectuals and the courts, now Jean talks French shows that French has fallen from a high class to a low class that is from being spoken by the high

  1. To what extent was President Richard Nixon responsible in the Watergate scandal in 1972-1974?

    This burglary seemed too good to be a ?third rate burglary?[17], which the White House had called the Break-in at the time. Initially they did face a lot of pressure because Woodward?s only source ?Deep Throat?, who later turned out to be a high FBI official involved in the investigation, could not be cited.

  2. Lorca uses Leonardos indifferent behavior as a husband to highlight the limitations of society ...

    I'm already cast off by you. But I have a son. And another coming. And so it goes. My mother's fate was the same.'' But Leonardo does not have any soft corner for her. His relationship with he wife can be manifested by his relationship with his horse.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work