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Pan's Labyrinth

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Mackenzie King

on 20 November 2013

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Transcript of Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth
Pan’s Labyrinth in comparison to original and modern day fairy tales and the gender roles they exhibit. We will explore the changes of fairy tales throughout time from the Grimm brothers to Perrault to the modern day Disney stories.We will also look at how gender plays an important role in these stories and how Pan’s Labyrinth is more like an original fairy tale and not a modern one.
1697- Charles Perrault from France. Wrote stories that eventually, after much time and revisions, became modern day fairy tales. Stories such as “Cinderella,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” “Intended for sophisticated aristocratic families.”
Modern Day Fairy Tales
Modern day fairy tales are the clean version of the Grimm and Perrault stories.
In many of the modern day stories the plot to get rid of the protagonist isn’t as dramatic and cruel as in the Grimm and Perrault stories
In the modern day Cinderella when the stepsisters try on the shoe it simply doesn’t fit even though they attempted to get their entire foot in several times, In the Grimm version the sisters cut off their toes and heels to fit into the shoe
In Perrault’s version of Little Red Riding Hood both the grandmother and little red were eaten by the wolf but in the modern version the grandmother is swallowed whole and they are both saved by a woodsman who happened to be nearby.
Fairy tales today are typically considered juvenile fiction and of little importance. However, this greatly underestimates the cultural impact and power the message of these tales can send.
Grimm Brothers
Cultural Influence
Not original Story lines
Once they were written down they were adapted to the “zeitgest” of their time. Zeitgest - dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm from Germany
Grimm brothers rewrote stories
The Grimms imprinted new bourgeois German values on their stories
Moved to Kassei and worked as librarians- met middle class families and their servants and gathered stories from them such as “Sleeping Beauty” and “Hansel and Gretel."
17 editions between 1812 and 1864
Brothers were afraid industrialization would ruin stories, attempted to protect them from oral legends by writing them- changed some in the process
Oral legends cause stories to adapt to that culture and social standards
Would we still know of these fairy tales today if they had never been editted and rewritten?
“The magic of the old tales has been falsified, the true meaning lost, perhaps forever.” -Jane Yolen
Construction of Gender in Fairy Tales
Fairy tales are one of the first sources of appropriate gender-constructed behavior young children are exposed to.

They provide a sort of “script” for young boys and girls as to what is acceptable in the development of their masculine and feminine identities.

Readers exposed to fairy tales at a young age tend to unconsciously accept this gendered discourse as “natural, essential, and conclusive”

Basically, they are “powerful cultural agents” that tell their readers “how to be.”
Women's Gendered Discourse
Fairy tales set with patriarchal values portray women as “weak, submissive, dependent, and self-sacrificing," while men are "powerful, active and dominant.”

The "Cinderella Complex” and the “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” are two phrases used to describe this helpless, "I-need-a-man" idea that is prevalent in many classic fairy tales.

Feminists criticize that many of the fairy tales that stretch the boundaries of gender-appropriate behavior have, for the most part, been forgotten or lost.

Many people think of Grimms’ or Perrault’s versions as the original storyline in the fairy tales. However, this is not true at all.

Jack Zipes uses the word “contamination” to describe “foreign augmentation to what appears to be a pure narrative tradition.”

Most of today’s classic fairy tales have already been contaminated with the patriarchal values of society. Some feel that fairy tales were originally based on an "older, matriarchal culture and faith.” Women were always the central figures of the tales, and it is women who most often have the supernatural powers.

Re-visions based upon “feminist poststructuralist thought” indicate current authors's desires to create a new vision of possibility for the tales - contaminating the contaminated.
Roberta Seelinger Trites says that a characteristic of a feminist text is that the protagonist often employes imagination, creativity, or trickery to transcend gender roles. The storyline usually requires the character to make some difficult choices and accept the responsibility for the choices she makes.
“Womenfolk and Fairytales” edited by Rosemary Minard in 1975 is an example of a newer book of tales where women are portrayed as strong, intelligent, and independent women
The stories attempted to eliminate some common gender stereotypes. However, they are not nearly as popular as other fairy tales.
Feminist Texts
Pan's Labyrinth
Pan’s Labyrinth is more like the original fairy tales because it does not spare the gruesome details of the story.
In Pan’s Labyrinth the main protagonists (Ofelia and Mercedes) of the story are strong and independant compared to the modern day protagonist that must rely on a man to come help or save them

Pan’s Labyrinth addresses feminism when Mercedes tells the captain that she was able to get away with everything she did because he only thought of her as a woman who was only good for housework
Ofelia’s tasks are more reminiscent of older versions of the Cinderella story, wherein the active female protagonist completes tasks - often involving magical elements - for the sake of a male (in this case, her newborn half-brother).

In Pan's Labyrinth Ofelia was enticed with the idea of becoming a princess just as the modern day Cinderella but they both endured very different fates
Modern day fairy tales sell a dream to children, it makes the world seem so simple.
In Pan's Labyrinth there was no Happily ever after which is another reason why it is different from the modern day fairy tales.
When Ofelia breaks the rules during the second task, she is punished (though indirectly). In Grimm fairy tales, female protagonists were also punished for failing in their tasks.
In the Grimm brothers' version of Rumplestiltskin, the protagonist's life is in danger should she fail her task of spinning flax into gold.
Failure to complete her tasks could endanger Ofelia's life if she is discovered and also her "life" in the sense that she would not be allowed to live as princess of the Underworld.
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