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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The magical world of patriarchy : exploring gender representations and faux feminism in “The sleeping beauty in the wood,” Sleeping beauty, and Maleficent Humiski, Marlo


In recent years, there has been an increase of feminist narratives in contemporary North American popular culture. However, some of these narratives perpetuate traditional gender messages under the pretences of feminism. This study examines faux feminist narratives in children’s films and how they convey patriarchal concepts of gender by analysing the history and trajectory of gender representations from one traditional conservative text to a recent text that purports to be feminist. Through the critical framework of adaptation theory (Hutcheon 2006; Zipes 2013; Blankier 2014), this study analyzes three versions of the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” from three different time periods: Charles Perrault’s seventeenth-century tale “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood,” Disney’s animated film Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Disney’s live-action film Maleficent (2014). The gender roles and gendered social structures in each text are examined to explore which gender representations have changed over time, and which representations have persisted throughout the three “Sleeping Beauty” texts. This study finds that while Maleficent may have feminist revisions, the film duplicates many sexist representations of gender found in the film’s source texts, conveying traditional gender roles and gendered social structures to contemporary audiences under the pretences of feminism.

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