The thesis is exploring the gender roles of women and men acting as literary characters in Slovenian folk tales and modern fairy tales. I compared them and explained the causes and the origin of sexual stigma of fairy tales.
In the first part of theoretical part of my thesis, I presented the construction of gender roles through social processes of socialization and characteristics of previously mentioned gender roles. Those gender roles vary depending on a male or a female gender. The focus was placed on our stereotypical views of male and female gender roles, which are the result of different social factors.
In the second part of the theoretical part of my thesis, I described the role of fairy tales and how social constructions of gender roles influence them, and how fairy tales differ from each other; the time of their creation was also very important.
In the analytical part of the thesis I focused on analysing male and female characters in Slovenian folk and modern fairy tales and I compared their gender roles.
The aim of this thesis was mainly to determine whether the gender roles of male and female literary characters of contemporary Slovenian fairy tales differ from their older predecessors - Slovenian folk fairy tales, and whether these gender stereotypes are on one side, in folk tales really more hierarchical and patriarchal, but on the other side, in modern fairy tales more democratically distributed, rather than sexual marked.
In my analysis of male and female literary characters, I used 10 different fairy tales, of which 5 tales are of a folk origin, 5 fairy tales are written by modern Slovene artists - storytellers.
In fairy tales I chose, the majority is of human figures, but there are also some animal characters.
By analysing the fairy tales I found out that in folk tales there are presented typical patriarchal patterns of society, which are reflected through uneven distribution of gender roles between men and women. Men are typed in bold as vigorous, independent and prudent heroes who with their ingenuity and wisdom overcome barriers on the way to their destination. Most of them have the role of mighty kings, cheerful shepherds, poor sons and boys with a good heart.
In folk tales, the marginal role belongs to two different types of female characters. On one hand, a passive, silent, hesitant, humble, but beautiful princess, who is also the youngest daughter and who with the help of the main male character - the hero, in the end lives happily ever after. On the other hand, there is a wicked stepmother, a wicked witch, a twisted fiancée, also greedy mother that only makes everything difficult for the protagonist to reach his/her goals. These women always end up punished for their bad actions. In folk tales, there are also some main female characters, but they also mirror the patriarchal society at that time - these women are presented as busy housewives or poor and humble stepchildren who patiently wait and are without their own expectations and who with the help of other good characters reach their happy ending.
I also found out that in modern literary fairy tales characters are neutral in gender and that previously typed gender roles of male and female characters of folk tales in modern tales become mixed and changed. Many women assume male roles, while men assume female roles. Women in modern fairy tales can be brave and resourceful heroines, while men are often frightened and vulnerable. Their relations are no longer patriarchal but democratic.
All this means that modern fairy tales make every effort to supplant the old stereotypical patterns of male and female gender roles, which are today still present among us, but by the democratic organization of society we make them less obvious.
I can conclude that fairy tales in fact reflect the society and are one of the main media that transmits social norms, mind-sets, values and attitudes to children.