Blog Series: the Fairy Tale Legacy

the fairy tale legacy

the fairy tale legacy

While drafting one of my posts for Sci-Fi November I hit upon the fairy tale legacy. It’s something I’ve recognized for a while, you probably have too even before I gave it a term. The fairy tale legacy is what everyone seems to be constantly fighting against – the idea of a princess that needs a hero to save her – the passive heroine – the damsel in distress. Everything most fairy tale retellings are trying so hard not to be. Most people lay the blame of the fairy tale legacy at Disney’s feet. After all, the Grimm Brothers certainly didn’t make their stories all soft and pretty. Disney has […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Sleeping Beauty

Fairy Tale Legacy: Sleeping Beauty

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. Sleeping Beauty has always been one of my favorites. Which is difficult because she is the most passive of the fairy tale heroines. The course of her life is set by that curse. No matter the retelling you choose, there is no escaping it. Whether she grows up in the palace or the woods, despite destroying all the spindles in the kingdom, whether she chose to rebel against the fairies and insist on a life with Phillip or not – […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Cinderella

Fairy Tale Legacy: Cinderella

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. Cinderella may be one of the most retold of the fairy tales in our society. And so rather by default, most often falls victim to the fairy tale legacy. This poor girl trapped in a life of cruelty and hardship until a prince pulls her out of it by making her his wife. And while that is essentially the facts of the plot, I contest the “poor girl trapped” part. Disney’s film is a relatively faithful retelling of the Charles […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Beauty and the Beast

Fairy Tale Legacy: Beauty and the Beast

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. How anyone could consider Beauty a passive heroine is beyond me. She’s actually very typical of the second era of Disney films from the 90s (what I think of as the Golden Era of Disney films). Disney released 4 animated films in 5 years (1989 – 1994) full of independent, feisty, bold and interesting heroines. They weren’t the sort of heroine anyone needed to “fix” with a retelling that made her stronger or less of a princess. Belle, in particular, […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: The Little Mermaid

Fairy Tale Legacy: The Little Mermaid

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. The Little Mermaid may be one of my favorite Disney movies for no other reason than they took an intensely tragic fairy tale and gave it a happy ending. They also ushered in a new era for their animated films. No more sweet princesses or childlike heroines. Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and Nala are all independent, strong-willed, out-spoken characters. Ariel, perhaps, is more petulant than the Hans Christian Anderson version. She doesn’t endure as much pain or heartache. But she very […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Snow White and Rose Red

Fairy Tale Legacy: Snow White and Rose Red

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. The Snow White few people know and another of my favorite stories as a child. I think I loved that they’re sisters and again that their story isn’t the “typical” fairy tale. I like the roses and I liked that my favorite Snow White was so much more interesting than the one everyone thought of – the sweet, childlike Disney heroine. It’s hard to write a fairy tale legacy post about Snow White and Rose Red. Because if you’ve read […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Rapunzel

Fairy Tale Legacy: Rapunzel

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. Rapunzel is the girl trapped in a tower, known mostly for her long hair. It’s easy to see why we’d think of her as passive. She grows up with no doors and no stairs. And she’s been there so long she knows nothing of the world or any life but the witch. No wonder Disney would feel the need to make her lively and vivacious – bold even when she’s afraid – charming in her innocence and willing to take […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Jasmine

Fairy Tale Legacy: Jasmine

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. We all know Disney has a reputation for sweet, passive princesses and throughout this series I’ve seen where that is both accurate and also unfounded. Especially in the 90s, Disney movies were full of independent, interesting heroines. Belle and Ariel are pretty accurate representations of their fairy tale. Jasmine, however, Disney improved considerably. I will confess I didn’t actually read the tale for this post. I wikipedia’d it and also referenced Project Disney for comparisons. There is a princess in […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Twelve Dancing Princesses

Fairy Tale Legacy: Twelve Dancing Princesses

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of my favorite stories as a child. I liked the dancing and the sisters and that it seemed different from so many of the “typical” fairy tales like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and especially Cinderella. What I discovered in researching it for this post is that it may be one of the quintessential fairy tale legacies. Even without a Disney movie. Because most versions turn the princesses into victims which neither the Brothers […]

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Fairy Tale Legacy: Snow White

Fairy Tale Legacy: Snow White

We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist. Snow White is a bit of a confounding fairy tale and in 1937, Disney did it no favors. We all know the essence of the story – the envy and vanity of the queen, the huntsman and the dwarves and the poison apple. Snow White was the first full length animated feature Disney made and their Snow White is sweet and soft spoken and a bit naive. But there’s a reason for that. In the original Grimm fairy tale, she’s […]

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