Thursday, July 9, 2009

Marxism in Fairytales

“Once upon a time” these are the words you hear for many fairytales. Some of the more popular fairytales are those that were adapted into film by Walt Disney are especially interesting to a Marxist. Fairytales like Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin are works that a Marxist would like to look at more closely.
When you read or watch a fairytale on TV you will know that the protagonist or hero of the story is going to win and be rewarded in the end and not only because you know the story will likely end with a “and they lived happily ever after”. It’s interesting how this happens and a Marxist would criticize this because the heroes or heroines end up looking and receiving for self glory. Take for example a story like Cinderella; she was a girl who was basically the house servant, constantly meeting the needs of her rich and pampered step sisters. You know she would be rewarded because she was described as if she were a person of the lower working class and she just has to be rewarded by letting her up the ladder. Something else that this implies is that poor people like Cinderella are humble and understanding people. This could also be said of the mice in Cinderella because after all they were depicted as refugees in the house of Cinderella’s stepmother.
In the end of the story Cinderella ended up climbing the social ladder and unbelievably (not for a fairytale) got all the way at the top of it. Cinderella became princess of the empire just like Aladdin ended up becoming a prince after being a thief who had nothing. This self glory improves dramatically the class or status of a hero or heroine in a fairytale.
Aladdin is also a story in which you knew that Aladdin would end up getting self glory. Aladdin is a young thief who steals according to the story out of need. This young man meets the princess falls in love with her and they get married bringing Aladdin up the social hierarchy. Heroes like Aladdin and Cinderella seem to maintain their social structures instead of bringing about a social revolution.
In Snow White the main character is already at the top of the social ladder. In the film Snow White is depicted as this lovely white female who is a princess that has finest things and has everything she wants. As opposed to her later friends the dwarfs who are depicted as short, stubby, humble and of the working class. Snow White always dressed appropriately for her class shows the dwarfs’ things like washing their hands before dinner. A thing like this seems to imply that working class people have poor hygienic habits and they need to be taught by the right person who in this case is the princess. Fairytales like this show what Marx would say “a nobleman always a nobleman, a commoner always a commoner”.

1 comment:

  1. Good ideas in here, though not nearly enough actual Marx or Marxist thinking to have it really work well. Keep working to find those places where bringing in the actual words of the thinkers will both make for more interesting sentences and stronger points, given that then you'll be making explicit connections between things, say, that Marx has said and things in the fairytales.