Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Comparative Literature


Dr. Angela Borchert


This thesis seeks to explore the ways in which women and beauty are depicted in the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile, the Grimm Brothers, and 21st century fairy tale films. A dominant beauty ideal in the genre has established a splitting of female characters into strict dichotomies that reinforce beauty and good moral behaviour while also propagating antagonistic female relationships. The use of spectacle to highlight the physical rewards of beauty and the violent punishments of ugly women have created a stable pattern in the genre that is maintained regardless of time period or context. It is the aim of this thesis to pursue an aesthetic approach to the tales that focuses on the beauty ideal, anxiety, spectacle, and the grotesque, to explore the ways in which this seemingly static genre has been able to challenge the impossible ideals of beauty it overtly emphasizes.