Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Language and Culture Studies (LACS) Plan B: French and German

First Advisor

Karen L Humphreys


Fairy tales exist outside of time and space: they begin with the vague allusion “once upon a time”. Women created the genre of fairy tales in order to control the narrative of stories when they could not control the patriarchal order of the society in which they lived. The tales functioned as a means of explaining rites of passage to girls, and they are continually retold because although they exist in a vague past, the female protagonists are universal. Girls continue to mature and to be socialized into womanhood. The tales themselves are cross-cultural because the subject matter is concerned with women’s lives, which cross cultures. Although fairy tales are feminine spaces, and are continually remade because the rites of passage of women are universal, even “modern” film versions do not completely change the patriarchal order: men’s sexualization of women still functions as the catalyst for their maturation.

I argue that although modern film adaptations establish fairy tales as feminine spaces, the female characters remain subject to the patriarchy. The films, like the tales themselves, exist in a vague past, and allude to rites of passage in girls’ lives. Even in the film adaptations, however, men’s sexualization continues to transform girls into women. The female characters are socialized into a particular femininity where they are inferior to men, but where their sexuality can be utilized as a means of empowerment.


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