Curses, Ogres and Lesbians : An Examination of the Subversion and Perpetuation of Fairy Tale Norms in Two Adaptations of Beauty and The Beast
Fairy tales as a form of social acculturation can subvert and/or perpetuate potentially harmful social norms. In this essay, Chris Anne Wolfe’s lesbian romance novel Bitter Thorns (1994) and the film Shrek (2001) are analysed as adaptations of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, with a focus on the extent to which they challenge and/or reinforce three fairy tale norms: women as tradeable objects, heteronormativity and idealised beauty. Both these texts can be seen as subversive, Bitter Thorns in how it challenges heteronormativity and Shrek in how it challenges the norm of idealised beauty. This subversion, however, is limited, as both texts do more to perpetuate fairy tale norms than to challenge them. They both reinforce the idea of women as objects for trade, Bitter Thorns perpetuates the norm of idealised beauty, and Shrek advocates heteronormative relationships and the dominance of heterosexual masculinity.
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