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Stepmother Archetype in Grimm Fairytales

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In the Grimm Fairytales, there are many antagonists. The most occurring, however, is the Evil Stepmother archetype. In most stories, this character is insensitive to the familial needs, “No, Aschenputtle, you have no proper clothes, and you do not know how to dance, and you will be laughed at!” (Aschenputtle) , opting instead to follow the path of greed or vanity. Almost always beautiful, the evil stepmother often strives to maintain that beauty and fortune for the sake of self “Queen, you are full fare, ’tis true, But Snow-white fairer is than you” (Snow-White). Now, in classical literature, Step-parents were often associated with grief and loss. In order for them to exist, a parent would have had to have died. In addition to this, she also could represent the fear of aging that the people of that time had.

She represents the resentment the child has for the so called “replacement”. In addition to that representation, she could also represent the dark side that children see in their own mothers. In the stories she is present in, she is always cruel. From making the step daughter do mindless and menial chores, such as in “Aschputtle” to attempting to completely destroy the lives of the children, such as in “The Six Swans”, she is completely self centered and spiteful towards those she perceives could overtake her view in the eyes of those in power. However, hope still prevails, and the plans enacted never take place. Instead, someone clever and of nobility intervines and stops the evil schemes. The end for the Evil Stepmother is often violent and ultimately fatal.

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