Author Archives: carriem103

JK Rowling Makes it Cool to be a Strong Witch

As one of the most popular women writers of modern fiction our generation has ever known, it is no surprise that JK Rowling reflects many strong and independent women in her text.  The masterful development of her beloved characters, across the span of seven series, is partly due to the way in which she opposes her leading ladies with men who bring out stereotypical traits in one another.  For example; headmaster Dumbledore is seen as the stereotypical wizard who is depicted very similar to that of the famous Merlin while his direct counterpart Professor McGonagall represents the media’s common depiction of what a witch looks and acts like I had always imagined a typical witch to be, “she transformed herself in front of their eyes into a tabby cat with spectacle markings around her eyes.”(121), along with her connection to the classic familiar  Minerva McGonagall is given the name of the Greek goddess of wisdom and reason which her character embodies.  Dumbledore and Minerva are the two figures that the young Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger look up to.  This brings me to Hermione, and how Rowling brings her personality to the forefront of this story. Her eager thirst for knowledge and her ability to keep up with her curious and at times reckless companions, Harry and Ron, molds her into a person that the author’s readers want to be.  At the beginning of the novel we learn that Hermione has chosen to take on more courses than a student at Hogwarts is required to, simply because she can never get enough knowledge; “ ‘Well, I’m taking more new subjects than you, are’ said Hermione. “Those are my books for Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, the Study of Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies’”.(97)  Rowling utilizes this to support her character profile.  Hermione is described as “the cleverest witch in Harry’s year,”(8) and time and time again proves her worth by being the brains behind many of the trio’s hi-jinks.  She serves to act as the logical voice of reason and as they mature together Hermione grows into not just the bookworm but she becomes the feminine touch in their friendship. This contrast may not be obvious but it does hold a valid point because of how the balance of stereotypical gender roles in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban does not leave women out of the picture, JK Rowling puts a positive spin on strong women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One life cannot be without one death

Ged eventually defeats the shadow by following it to the Island of Iffish, where he eventually encounters someone who has not been tricked by the Shadow. Estarriol was one of Geds closest friend at school, and he offers to help Ged on his journey to find the Shadow. The two men venture out to sea in hopes of using Geds new found connection to track his enemy. They follow this untill they meet a shoreline. Here is where Ged comes face to face with the Shadow, he realizes that one cannot exsist without the other and that to become a successful wizard he must incorporate his counterpart into his self. This is where he unites his life with his inevitable death.

Gender Roles: Peter and Wendy

Fairy tales are infamous for having a very strong underlying commentary on gender roles within society. This is no different when it comes to the tale of Peter Pan, written by James Matthew Barrie; in fact it is even more evident in this specific case. The Scottish author writes his hero and heroine as archetypes of the classic husband and wife. Wendy eagerly takes on the task of being a motherly figure towards her brothers and to Peter. Even Mr. and Mrs. Darling mirror Barrie’s opinion on the relationship between woman and man in a marriage. For example when Mr. Darling is having trouble with his tie and begins to throw a bit of a tantrum about how if he can not impress his colleagues that night they will all starve. After Mrs. Darling calmly helps her spouse the narrator explains “Some men would have resented her for being able to do it so easily, but Mr. Darling was far too fine a nature for that; he thanked her carelessly, at once forgot his rage, and in another moment was dancing around the room with Michael on his back.”(Barrie 14) In my opinion this scene perfectly represents how the characters Peter and Wendy would evolve into. Peter being quick tempered due the way he has grown up; knowing that he can get away with an erratic display of emotion and complete lack of appreciation for Wendy’s affection. Peter is also naive to the notion that girls are attracted to him, ““You are so queer,” he said, frankly puzzled, “and Tiger Lily is just the same. There is something she wants to be to me, but she says it’s not my mother.”” (Barrie 95) He says when he and Wendy are talking about their role as the lost boys mother and father. James Barrie created the characters of Peter and Wendy to illustrate how early in children’s lives the insertion of gender stereotypes begin, and how thoroughly they are adopted. Whether it is in Never Never Land or in late 19th century London Barrie translates societies need to conform its members, no matter how young, to their “rightful” place in the household.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The Story of A young lady, named Alice, Who finds herself following a white rabbit into a land of wonder has captured the interest of generations and people of all ages.  The reason for this being that the author, Lewis Carroll, of this story utilized double entendre to hide underlying sexual innuendos.  This is especially evident when you focus specifically on the comparison between the older women figures like the Queen and the Duchess and how they are portrayed in contrast to young Alice.  For example the color of clothing they wear is very expressive of how the writer wants his audience to see the woman Vs. the girl.  Carroll dresses Alice in a traditional girl’s day dress, while he illustrates the Queen of hearts as wearing the color red which is commonly linked to mature sexuality.  This element of comparison is used to make the main character seem all the more innocent and virginal which in turn accentuates Alice’s overwhelming childlike curiosity that propels the plot of this famous fairy tale.

Conflict Resolution: How Happily Ever After may have gotten lost in translation.

It is very common for Fairy tales to have underlying connotations or messages for the projected audience. In two of the Cinderella stories we read; Donkeyskin by Charles Perrault and Cinderella by The Brothers Grimm, They both had morals in the ending of the tale. Each had a different approach to the famous happy ending we all know too well, and because of that, each tale had their own distinctively unique implication.
For example, in Charles Perrault’s Donkeyskin, he tells in deep detail how horrible of a struggle this young princess had to go through to escape an incestual marriage, to only be forced into a servant’s life where everyone she knew saw her as “… nothing but a black drab, uglier and dirtier then the most filthy scullion.” (pg 114) In the denouement and resolution Perrault gave no insight as to what consequences the King would have to endure for pursuing his own daughter as his queen, instead “He had purged himself of all the lawless desires and all that were left in his heart of that wicked flame had been transformed into paternal devotion.” (pg 116). The final paragraph serves to tell the reader exactly what to take from the story; “that it is better to expose yourself to harsh adversity than to neglect your duty.” In short Perrault did not see this Electra-esk complex as an obstacle for a young woman.
On the other hand The Brothers Grimm took a very separate approach to the resolution of their adaptation of Cinderella. There affinity for giving the protagonists enemies a most violent and brutal demise was not wasted on this tale. The stepsisters of this most beautiful heroine were described as “two daughters, whose features were beautiful and white, but whose hearts were foul and black.” (pg 117) That evil can be dealt with in one way; “And so they were punished for their wickedness and malice with blindness for the rest of their lives.” This conclusion functions as a very cruel cautionary tale to any persons who does unpleasant things to another being, that they will not escape their fate. The Brothers Grimm are well known for injecting a lot of Christian views and harsh German zeal into their stories.
I have come to understand that within every culture there are different normality’s to appreciate when reading these diverse variations of the Cinderella fairy tale, especially when it comes to the happy endings. Whether it is the peaceful and forgiving manner of Charles Perrault, or the unforgiving violent ways of the Brothers Grimm they both have their own way of telling a timeless tale.