Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Brothers Grimm

As advised by Sharon, I am going to research and explore a few Brothers Grimm fairy tales that have female main characters. To do this I read “Grimm: The Illustrated Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm” a very beautifully illustrated book which has a handful of stories.

The reason for doing this is because I wish to explore the narratives that surround these stories, in order to inspire a story for my game. I will also look at the female characters in a critical manner and a feminist viewpoint, as to ensure that my female protagonist has depth and doesn’t come across as helpless.

Little Red Cap (Illustration by Rilla Alexander)

Next, I am going to look at the Brothers Grimm version of Little Red Riding Hood. I thought it would be interesting to study this after playing the path.

The Grimm version of the tale is very different to previous versions, as Red Cap and her Grandmother are saved by a huntsman (rather than being eaten) and also the protagonist doesn’t remove her clothes for the wolf in this version. Overall, the story is more appropriate for children.

The story clearly has a moral ending, warning not to talk to strangers/sexual predators and to do as you’re told (Not to stay from the path/venture into the woods). However, I am going to look at the meanings and representations of the protagonist. Many theorists suggest that the story is a metaphor for sexual awakening and transformation to adulthood. However, many critics say that the story has a gender imbalance due to suggesting that the female characters are weak and useless and could only be saved my a man. Feminist such as Susan Brownmille and Simone de Beauvoir disapprove of the Grimm and Perrault versions of the story, as they promote “passive, helpless, beauty-queen” ideas of femininity.

I will strongly consider these theories and opinions when creating my character. I want to ensure that my female protagonist does not come across as helpless and passive.


Cinderella is a story that is known to have originated in the first century BC. One of the most well-known versions is by The Brothers Grimm.

From reading Cinderella, I feel that the story tells of a women’s place in society. Cinderella, unlike her step-sisters, is kind, gentle and sweet, despite her troubles. Thus, because of her nature, she gets a marriage proposal of elevated status (she marries a prince). The importance of this high-staus marriage is emphasised by the step sisters cutting off their feet to fit the glass slipper. They are then blinded by pigeons for tricking the prince.

Little Snow White (Illustration by Kinpro)

I will now briefly look at the character of Snow White. Like “Little Red Cap” the writing suggests that Snow White is also vulnerable and helpless, it seems that she cannot survive without the help of men. For example, the huntsman who was originally supposed to kill Snow White saved her. Also, when Snow White is lost in the forest, she is saved by the seven Dwarfs. Finally, once snow white was poisoned by the Queen, she is saved by the Prince.

The stereotype of a naïve and innocent woman who gets into danger, only to be saved by a man is a common trait found in fairytales. For example, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel etc. Of course, I have to take into consideration that these stories were written at a time of a male dominated society.

Studying these different tales has been very useful in helping my narrative. It has also allowed me to look at the different representations of women in fairy tales (most of which are poor). For my own game, maybe I could take a usual fairy tale setting, yet make my female character empowered, rather than useless and passive.

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