Third-Party Education of Girls in Kinder-und-Hausmärchen
In this research, I am exploring the idea of third-party education in three fairy tales from the Grimm brothers’ Kinder- und- Hausmärchen. Using historical, cultural and biographical information, I will analyze the role and function of third-party educators in these fairy tales geared primarily toward bourgeois readers. The French Revolution did not only create social change in France, but it also impacted the German states. Politically and socially Germans, and especially members of the German bourgeoisie, began to redefine themselves. The roles of bourgeois women changed, and hence, their education had to change, too. This research analyzes Grimm fairy tales that exemplify the concept of third-party education of female characters as a means to create an ideal bourgeois woman, a concept that was not only promoted in the Grimm fairy tales, but that was also lived in the Grimm family. “Frau Holle,” “Snow White¸” and “Mary’s Child” all demonstrate the use of an outside party to educate a young woman in the art of domesticity and social responsibility. These fairy tales all present a reward and punishment education; the women who are obedient and productive are rewarded, while those who are obstinate and lazy are punished. Third-party educators become instrumental in the formation of the ideal woman as defined by nineteenth-century German bourgeois society.