The Great Cat Massacre Analysis

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In his book The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History, American cultural historian Robert Darton argues that readers can access the “social dimension of thought” via folktales because stories are often influenced by the “surrounding world of significance” (6). He claims that folktales often evolve to reflect the social attitude at the time at which they are told. Thus, as Darton suggests, it is “…unwise to build an interpretation on a single version of a single tale (18)”. Focusing especially on the evolutionary aspect of folktales, Darton provides a comprehensive tool to interpret what different versions of the same fairy tale suggest about changes in society.
In this essay, I will use Darton’s theory to analyze
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In this classic version of Sleeping Beauty, the prince risks his life passing through the thorn hedge to save the woman he is in love with. Unlike Basile’s tale, the prince “… bent over and gave [the princess] a kiss,” waking her with an act of true love (Grimm). The pattern of Sleeping Beauty‟s parents—from only Lord, to King and Queen, to only Queen—shows a swing from the patriarchal to the matriarchal, while the pattern of the prince shows a swing from princes being crude and violent to being respectful, kind, loving, and sensitive. Guided by Darton, who argues that understanding cultural background is important in understanding folktales, I find that the Grimms’ works are strongly influenced by nationalism. By collecting examples of German folk literature, and emphasizing the uniquely German characteristics of that literature, the Grimms hoped to make a statement about the importance and value of German culture. The Age of Enlightenment brought a consciousness of feminist thinking to England and France, most influentially in the works of Mary Wollstonecraft. Feminist ideas still began to spread, and some radical women became outspoken in promoting the cause of women 's rights. Sophie Mereau launched the Almanach für Frauen (Women 's Almanac) in 1784.Feminism as a movement began to gain ground toward the end of the 19th century, although it did not yet include a strong push to extend suffrage to German women (Sagarra 407). In this way, the Brothers Grimm transformed the original story’s rape and cannibalism into love and family. The awakening of the princess is accomplished by fidelity and devotion. The prince has to fight to save the princesses. This not only parallels the 19th century culture when people start to value families, but also shows that people had gained more respect to women as not

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