Damsels In Address

It is clearly evident that many fairy tales of childhood tend to shape the
reader. Certain moral codes and ideals are tightly woven into the text of many
fairy tales, promoting or denoting a character’s actions. In the Grimm’s
fairy tales Cinderella, Brier Rose, and Rapunzel, the heroines of these tales
exhibit strong behavioral codes, thus providing opportunity for the young female
reader to relate to the damsel, or to model herself to behave in a similar
fashion. In accordance with Marcia R. Lieberman’s essay, " ‘Some Day My

Prince Will Come’: Female Acculturation Through the Fairy Tale," I agree
with the assertion that positive traits in fairy tale indicate reward, while the
negative characteristics bring misfortune. A heroine in a fairy tale is to be
seen as a mentor, a model to easily portray what is right, and what is
inherently wrong. For instance, a passive heroine proves to bring eventual
reward through pain and suffering, while a female who is assertive, either
mentally or physically, is shunned. Suggestions integrated throughout the text
of the three tales provide strong evidence as to the desired morals and values
of the society in which the tales were written. Through the examination of
tales, their inherent messages surface. Children’s perceptions of fairytales
can go a long way towards shaping social interactions among said children.

Passivity is a major player in the personalities of Rapunzel, Cinderella, and

Sleeping Beauty. Rapunzel relies completely on a determined prince to escape her
imprisonment; Cinderella uses a fairy godmother to help her cause and Sleeping

Beauty waits until Prince Charming wakes her. Children could see these
characterizations of women and begin to intertwine them with their own budding
personalities. Boys begin to see women as weak and Girls may interpret these
behavior traits as indicative of their being the lesser part of relationships
with men. Sexual roles, although not overtly discussed within the pages of
fairytales, becomes the focus for these young people. Marcia Lieberman
reiterates the idea of inherent roles stating, "a picture of sexual roles,
behavior psychology, and a way of predicting outcome or fate according to
sex"(Lieberman, 384). As they grow older, the children may begin to fall into
the roles they discovered in the fairytales; boys begin to act out the
‘hero’ role and girls become passive, receptive to the male’s ideas before
their own. Throughout Cinderella, the jealous sisters are constantly oppressing
the heroine of the tale. The sisters, who enslave Cinderella to complete chores
around the palace, portray strong, ill natured, and above all, jealous
characters. In contrast, Cinderella represents a relatively passive, young, and
beautiful woman. However, in contrast with Lieberman (389), Cinderella is not
passive in completing her tasks about the house. Stating, "the system for
rewards in fairy tales [...] equates these three factors: being beautiful, being
chosen, and getting rich," Lieberman acknowledges the relationship between
beauty and eventual success (386). Beauty, however, hides within Cinderella’s
actions. The words, "After leaving her slipper at the ball she has nothing
more to do but stay home and wait," expressions of description, Lieberman
suggests that Cinderella exhibits at the core of her emotions, meekness (389).

Cinderella’s submissiveness is rewarded with the introduction of the prince
and her eventual happily ever after status. Rewards only pertain to those who
have struggled, and therefore prove worthy. In Brier Rose, the heroine of the
tale suffers through a great sleep to be eventually rejuvenated and rewarded for
her passivity by the prince. Upon her birth, the heroine receives four gifts
from fairies: virtue, beauty, wealth, and the curse of a seemingly endless
sleep. Three of the four gifts bring lifelong success and happiness, while the
latter handicaps her maturation process. Proclaiming, "the prettiest is
invariably singled out and designated for reward," Lieberman identifies the
tendency for fairy tales to equate beauty with success (384). Once again, the
beauty of the heroine arrives as a result of her state of passivity, her intense
sleep. The statement, " she does not have to show pluck, resourcefulness, or
wit; she is chosen because she is beautiful," Lieberman explains the heroines
ability to attract the eye of others (386). For it is merely the heroine’s
immense beauty that persuades the prince to ride through the forest of thorns in
order to reach the heroine and to rejuvenate her from her sleep. Once again, as
a direct result of her beauty, the heroine is rewarded for her beauty and all of
the obstacles it brings. Throughout the tale Rapunzel, the heroine is portrayed
as the classic fairy tale character, a damsel in distress. In this case,

Rapunzel depends upon