Conference Portal, 2019 International Conference on English Language and Culture

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Fantasy and the Necessity of a Female Heroine: The Cultural Value of the Fairy Tale in Robin McKinley’s Beauty
Zaid Ibrahim Ismael, Asmaa Mehdi Saleh

Last modified: 2020-02-28


In traditional fairytales, women were often portrayedas helpless damsels in distress, waiting for their lovers or malepatrons to save them from difficult situations or gothic villains. Thesestereotypes were deeply rooted in patriarchal cultures, where thesetales were circulated. They did not change in the different versionsof these stories as they passed from generation to generation. Inpost-modern times and with the emergence of the second-waveof feminism in the 1960s, women writers started to make use ofthese fairy tales as part of their feminist agendas to enlightenyoung females of the necessity to trust their potentials to be able toget equal rights in man-centered societies. These feminist writersaltered the traditional tales to suit their purposes by changing thetimid heroines into strong female characters, whose initiative anddaring spirits are fundamental in helping them to survive in theface of hardships. American novelist, Robin McKinley, was oneof the early feminists who rewrote fairy tales to help empowerboth adolescent and adult female readers. This research exploresMcKinley’s use of the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast in herfantasy of the same title published in 1978. It focuses on the waythe author converts the classic tale to meet her expectations of therole of women in contemporary time.


Beauty; Fairy tale; Fantasy; Feminism; Patriarchal

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