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Fairy Tales, Mothers in

  • By: Gillian M.E. Alban
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Fairy tales represent the full range of loving and caring mothers, from those who protect, nurture, and sacrifice themselves for their children, to those acting carelessly, irritably, or with favoritism. They usually teach morality and life lessons, although at times the mother sets herself up as a rival beauty to her daughter. Alternate mother figures, particularly stepmothers, are frequently shown, since mothers often died early, especially in childbirth. Any orphaned child left in the care of the father's second wife was not preferred over her own children; similarly, mothers-in-law often show little fondness for their charges. The stark simplicity of folk tales exposes people's weaknesses, whether they protect or exploit the person closest to them, such as stepchild or sister's child.

Sociological Representations of Mothers

Ordinary mothers ...

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