Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: German Studies

First Advisor

Julia Goesser-Assaiante


This thesis explores the representation of gender in fairy tales. Gender is among the most fundamental social constructs. Every culture has unique gender roles, and these roles must be taught to members of a society from a very young age. One of the oldest, and most successful methods of teaching gender roles to people of all ages is through fairy tales. In this thesis I demonstrate many of the subtle ways in which fairy tales are able to communicate powerful lessons about gender. The Grimm Brother’s Kinder und Hausmärchen transformed the fairy tale from oral tradition to literary genre. As one of the canonical texts of western literature Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Kinder und Hausmärchen have had an enormous, and not always positive, influence on the shaping of gender dynamics in western culture. While the Grimm Brother’s tales remain influential, what makes the fairy tale genre truly remarkable is its adaptability. New versions of fairy tales, such as Disney’s animated films, remain very culturally relevant, and the modern themes found in these adaptations prove that the same familiar stories can be used to express new ideas about gender that are just as influential as the classic fairy tales.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in German Studies.