Marital Violence in Fairy Tales—Hayden Fuchino, Guest Blogger
Today we share a post by a student in our Fall 2021 Introduction to the Fairy Tale course.
My name is Hayden Fuchino, and I am an English major at SMC and a part of the English 61 Fairy Tale class. I have become quite intrigued with the prevalence of marital and domestic violence throughout the fairy tales that our class has been going through. In "The Thousand and One Nights," the female protagonist is married to an abusive husband, with the threat of death constantly looming over her head. She knows that this man's previous wives have been killed by him, so she lives in constant fear as she tries to prolong her life by telling stories with cliffhangers. Another abusive and violent husband can be found in "Blue Beard," and the premise is similar to "The Thousand and One Nights." A woman is married to a man who she knows is a serial killer, killing his wives that do not obey him perfectly.
In our class, we have explored how fairy tales allow us to deal with and, in some ways, come to terms with the dark, violent, and scary parts of life and the world that are often so difficult to think about. Through simple and precise word choice and syntax, fairy tales provide us a literary space to negotiate and re-negotiate our relationship with the painful and traumatic. Abusive behavior and domestic violence are some of the most real and traumatic things that still exist today, affecting millions of people worldwide. In fact, during COVID, occurrences of domestic violence increased, meaning more and more people are coming into direct contact with these painful and atrocious crimes. So, to me, the prevalence of domestic violence in fairy tales seems to be due to its prevalence in real life, as fairy tale authors explore those dark things that do happen behind closed doors. Fairy tales allow us to think about those things that may be too painful to think about through the lens of real life.