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The Frog King
Transcript of The Frog King
Purpose: understand social norms surrounding gender
1800s Germany vs present
Different cultural values on gender
View story and its characters differently
Female Gender Lens: Princess
What moral is the Grimms trying to convey in "The Frog King"?
Moral communicated through princess or frog prince?
June 23, 2015
WR 150 SA4
"The Frog King"
Tale's internal logic is confusing
princess breaks promise, tries to kill frog
rewarded with prince?
Grimms' tales for children
HOW: Examine story through lens of gender
PURPOSE: deduce Grimms' original main character
WHY: to understand what lesson Grimms wanted their audience to learn
Social Gender Norms
Male superiority over women
Male Superiority in Marriage
Societal norms dictated that "men were to be the dominant partner in the marriage or the heads of their families, and wives were to be subservient and obedient to their husbands" (Hill 9).
Princess' Situation: She's Never in Control
Pampered life, everything given to her
Childish actions - ball, innocence
Lack of independence - ball retrieved by frog
Father dictates her life choices
Keep promise with frog
Arranges marriage with prince
Prince controls her
Threatens the princess
In marriage, as husband
At her father's bidding
, [the prince] became [the princess'] dear companion and husband" (Grimm 50).
Princess refused to bring him into her bed, frog replies:
"'lift me up or I'll tell your father'"
Male Gender Lens: Prince
Princess' Character: More Naughty than Nice
Spoiled - wept when lost ball
Manipulative, selfish - tricked frog, broke promise
Cowardly - ran away
Rude - openly displays her hostility towards the frog
"...it was obvious that she was not happy about it" (Grimm 49)
The princess "began to cry, and was afraid of the clammy frog" (Grimm 49).
Tries to kill frog
: she "picked him up, and threw him with all her might against the wall" while yelling "'Now you'll get your rest, you disgusting frog!'" (Grimm 50).
Princess' Reward: Is the Prince her Reward?
Unintentionally broke prince's curse...while trying to kill him
Princess' father arranges marriage to prince
Princess did not ask prince to be her reward
After Prince changes to human - no sign of Princess' thoughts and emotions
Prince's Situation: Cinderella 2.0?
Introduced as a frog, without audience knowing he's a prince
Pitiful - exploited by princess
Princess attempts to murder him
Frog turns back into human
Starts as pitiful and helpless, but ends happily
Anne Sexton describes the frog to have "boil disease and a bellyful of parasites" while being covered in slime (94).
Prince's Character: Noble Character
Willing to help someone in need (princess)
Brave to confront and correct immorality
Approaches princess at castle about her breaking her promise, an immoral act
Someone to testify to his good character
"beautiful, beaming eyes" (Grimm 50)
Marcia Lieberman - "
Good-temper and meekness are so regularly associated with beauty
, and ill-temper with ugliness, that this in itself must influence children's expectations" (188).
"so saddened by the transformation of his master into a frog that he had to have three hoops placed around his heart to keep it from bursting with pain and sorrow" (Grimm 50).
Ecstatic upon his master's transformation back into human
FH's distress implies prince did not deserve to be turned into a frog - good character
Control, Superiority, and Happiness
Human > animal
King - political and social power
Marriage - control and superiority over princess
Happiness with his freedom
Faithful Heinrich described to be "overjoyed...for his master had been set free and was happy" (Grimm 50)
Makes sense prince is main character:
Historical Context of male superiority
Princess is the main character since Grimms describe her emotions in great detail
More Research: Women & Emotion in 1800s Europe
"'What nonsense that stupid frog is talking! He's down there in the water croaking away with all the other frogs. How could anyone want him for a companion?'" (Grimm 48).
Emotions are associated with femininity
"Historians of the emotions have asserted that in the early nineteenth century, emotions were feminized and privitized" (Horowitz 3).
While honor has "a natural sense of rightness most developed in the male...what was called 'sentiment' was relegated to the sphere of the feminine, of the household" (Reddy 145).
CONCLUSION: Cannot assume princess is main character due to the Grimms' vast descriptions of her emotions
By describing the princess' emotions, the Grimms were just providing character development for her identity as a female
Prince is intended main character of the Grimms' "The Frog King"
Male gender lens
Supported with historical context
Understand story's lessons through male gender lens
Readers aware of impact of putting social values into perspective to understand authors' original intentions
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