Every child in the world grows up with fairytales. Fairytales are part of culture and everyday life. In fairytales, there are good and evil, beautiful and ugly, strong and weak, powerful and weak, and they always have happy ends. Mostly good people are beautiful and bad people are ugly. Fairytales are used to teach children morals and some principles. In my opinion, however, they usually reinforce stereotypes like the death of mothers, wicked stepmothers, prevalence of good over evil and a happy conclusion.
Mostly mothers and brothers die in fairy tales. The deaths of fathers and daughters are less likely (Atwood, 1998, p. 31). The death of a mother is a common event in fairy tales such as, Snow White, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel. Generally, mothers are not in the story from the beginning or the cause of their death is not exposed. In some, mothers often died after giving childbirth. Fairy tales often reflects the period it was written in. Childbirth was one of the leading causes of death in the past.
Men then often replaced their wives with younger women (Oates, 1998, p. 249). That is why there are stepmothers in fairytales. “The stereotype that stepmothers are wicked has existed for thousands of years, popularized by “Cinderella,” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” fairy tales collected by the Grimm brothers” (Katz, 2008). Cinderella’s evil stepmother does anything to favour her own biological children over her and to make Cinderella’s life miserable. Snow White’s stepmother does everything to kill her.
Hansel and Gretel’s stepmother leads them into deep woods. Stepmothers are often portrayed as cruel and spiteful in these fairytales. They favour their own children and dislike their stepchildren. According to Bettelheim fairytales “offer solutions in ways that the child can grasp on his level of understanding” (1981, p. 2). That is why the good always prevail over the evil. For example, the evil sea witch Ursula cannot kill Ariel (The Little Mermaid), and the evil witch stepmother cannot kill Snow White. The good ones manage to survive at the end.
The final stereotyping is seen in the conclusions of the fairytales. Almost all the fairytales end happily and the young man and woman walk down the aisle at the end of the story and live happily ever after. For instance, Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel marry their princes, heroes who save them and live with them happily ever after. In conclusion, although the fairytales are supposed to teach children morals and some principles, they usually stereotype the death of mothers, evil stepmothers, dominance of good over evil and a happy end.