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Gender Studies I
EN2011 – Fall 2010 – Terry Goldie
Lecture 3 – Sept 30
Marchen (Germany) – means wonder-tales, things that are magic.
Called wonder-tales instead of fairy tales because they don’t have fairies in them,
they have magic and often animal transformations.
They are folk-tales (a special branch that has wonder and transformation).
What makes a folk tale?
 Not about what they say but rather how they work.
o An oral tradition
 Why an oral tradition?
 The people were not literate.
 The oral form is the form of tradition that goes through a
 Oral is what makes a folktale.
 You can write it down but you have to have an oral story.
 Primarily told by the story teller of the community: kind of like
an authoritative figure.
 Oral has greater presence and greater truth.
 Traditional.
 Room for variation and change that leads to a certain kind of
 As culture develops it says ‘yeah we agree with that’ or ‘no
we don’t agree with that’ and certain elements of the story
are kept and other elements are dropped.
It’s possible that these tales appear in different cultures because it’s tales that
people create no matter where they are.
It’s possible that Cinderella turns up in different forms because the human nature
wants it.
The fear that we all have of losing our family (i.e. losing our mother).
Blood relations are good and non-blood relations are bad.
The most common blood relation is the mother and the most common non-blood
relation is the step mother.
What the folktale does has a strong morality, but they tell you that out there,
there is a really dangerous world and those weird things that happen are directly
reflecting in your real life.
Fear of the dark – a memory that tells you that the dark is dangerous; i.e. in fairytales – beauty and the beast – there may be wolves.
When it comes to our understanding of what stories are we usually reflect to
One of the places we usually end up in is psychology and we will usually explain
a folktale explaining psychology and sometimes we will explain psychology using
a folktale.
Peter Pan is an example of a folk figure called the Puer Aeternus (the eternal
boy); when Peter Pan was written he was simple taken a character that was
already written.
Peter Pan syndrome – the kids that do not want to grow up; Males not growing
up. The men who want to watch football on TV instead of taking out the garbage,
the men who won’t do the dishes because they are too busy playing poker.
Alternative to Peter Pan – Wendy, she is the mother figure – she looks after the
young boys. At the age of 12 she is in charge of the household, she is already
domesticated; she mends clothes and makes sure she grows up.
The woman behaves a certain way and the man behaves a certain way. What
you’re doing is using a fairy tale model to explain the psychology of life.
The reason the stories become uniform in a narrative proses that doesn’t change
is because it so reflects our experience of humanity that it has to be that way.
That Cinderella can’t have a step mother that is nice to her, and she can’t have
big feet.
That sense in which somehow or another cultural truths are maintained.
The Story of the Bloody Chamber
- 6 things in the bloody chamber related to the Bloody Chamber or gender:
o The keys
 When he handed them to her, she knew she was tested; her
curiosity was tested to open the closet.
 ‘Well he knew this was going to happen.’
o The female in the bloody chamber does not have a name and is treated as
a child.
 Paragraph 1 – About marriage and becoming a woman and sexual
imagery. The distance is between childhood and becoming a
woman. The colour white. It’s one sentence. There are a lot of
motion but there it is also very full. It’s decorative, like a romantic
novel. She uses a lot of adverbs and adjectives. Her use of adverbs
and adjectives add colour in the sense of emotion and power. Why
first person? It allows us into her experience.
 In most stories when they are written in first person, you find out the
name because people say it, not because she herself says it.
o Stains
 The stains throughout when she gets the curiosity there is a stain
on the key and the stain stays on the forehead forever…
 The scarlet letter: the stain on the female. Her red dot on her
forehead represents her lack of sexual interest.
 The mark represents her failure as a young sexual female.
o Flowers/atmosphere
 He is like a lily; symbol of purity and death.
 The lily in many ways is a symbol of beauty being closely related to
 His flowers and the smell of the castle should lead her to question
o Wealth/power
 The contrast from her old life to her new one.
 We assume that wealth and power will give us power and
understanding and knowledge.
 When she claims she is not sad because she has all that money.
 Her mother asks if she’s sure she loves him and she says ‘I’m sure
I want to marry him’.
 Marriage for a woman is something that gives you opportunities
that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Simple feminism is probably true of this story but not of the others.
Whenever you read fiction of any sort re-read the first page when you’re done the
whole book.
‘I’ve become the man I wanted to marry.’
Marriage becoming the vehicle to opportunity.
To a certain extent many of us think of nature as enchanted butterflies but to
people who are from the older age, the city was safe and the outside was the
dark and scary.
Adverbs and adjectives make weak sentences because they discredit your verbs.
Central to Blue Beard’s castle: would remarry and kill his wife and marry again
and kill again.
o Why?
 To take their virginity.
 Because they could not provide him with a male heir.
 Because he can’t trust her.
 The idea of the male being old and the female being young.
Therefore killing them to have a young wife.
Is her curiosity about her being female, young or simply human?
Why can’t the female be wealthy and the male be young? Because the males are
in a lineage of wealth.
The bloody chamber – the vaginal chamber, the bloody room, the bedroom.
o Why?
 Typically when women lose their virginity it’s bloody.
 This is the first time he’s had the bloody sheet to prove the virginity
being taken.
 Once it’s broken that’s it.
 A way of modifying women.
 The virginity of women represents the care of the mother and the
honour of the father.
The idea of the honour killing is that the woman’s innocence is the honour of the
In this case, we are not shown a father.
The bloody chamber in sense of the virginity represents the honour of the father
and of the mother.
Menstrual blood is important because blood among men is violence and blood
among women is reproduction.
Menstrual blood is a surprise that is often used because it has no sense unless
you are explained.
Menstrual taboo – are created because men find menstruation so confusing that
it represents female power.
The bloody chamber is central to men’s irrational fear of a powerful woman.
Presumably it’s not all hate, it’s fear. Fear of what?
Sexuality for him is darkness, death, evil and dangerous.
Another character – the housekeeper who seems to get along with him and
support him.
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