Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lecture 8: Feminist Theory, Critical Thinking and Born Digital Fiction, Paul D. Found

I chose the "Fairy Tales" story on, which allows you to construct your own fairytale (within certain parameters) and share it with other people. You can read my story here:

To give further background, the concept of "Fairy Tales" is by a man and I am one too, so there may be some bias at work. The options are limited in what the "writer" can change, but gender may have a role to play in the choices that are made.

In relation to the Rosi Braidotti piece, I am afraid that the main female protagonist is rather stereotypical of those seen in more conventional fairy tales. Indeed, the only other female character who briefly appears is also a stereotype. It does not really provide much in the way of "more complexity, multiplicity, simultaneity..." in the characterisations. I will elaborate further.

Firstly, we are introduced to the peasant's daughter (Esmerelda). We also meet the peasant and his wife. The wife (whose name we do not know - although we do not know the peasant's name either it must be said) is portrayed in "classic" fashion - she spends all of the peasant's money on "cakes, trifles and wine". We can assume that she does not have any of her own money, thus leaving her dependent upon the peasant. It is stated that the reason the family are so poor is because of the wife's spending habits, suggesting that the poverty in which the family finds itself living is her fault. There is no mention of the shortcomings of the peasant himself.

The daughter becomes a commodity when the King arrives to ask for the rent, which cannot be paid. The peasant is given the choice of paying in cash, handing over his daughter (as though she will have no objection to this), or being forced to leave their home. It is the King (a man, and an aristocrat) who has the power at this point. This in itself is a comment on the sexual values of the King (men?).

The daughter becomes a crying mess, which again plays on the assumption that women are overly emotional, prone to bouts of uncontrolled weeping. Later, Esmerelda does physically overpower the Artful Merchant, and answer the riddle of the Wily Sorcerer to enter the Starmaker's Kingdom so there is some balance offered, whereby Esemerelda is not stereotyped weak and powerless.

Also, although Esmerelda initially does what the Starmaker wishes, she does free herself from his clutches without the aid of the cliched "knight in shining armour" that most fairytale heroines seem to require.

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