Emma Dononghue’s and James Finn Garner’s Rebellious Cinderellas: Feminism and Satire for Empowerment in Contemporary Fairy Tales

Maria Amor Barros-del Rio


The end of the 20th century witnessed a rewriting of traditional tales for children in English. In 1997, Irish writer Emma Donoghue published Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins, a sequence of re-imagined fairy tales that was shortlisted for the James L. Tiptree Award. In 1994, American writer James Finn Garner had also re-written many well-known stories for children and had them compiled in a single volume: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. These new versions of Cinderella incorporate formal, structural and ideological alterations that subvert the traditional fairy tale genre. Using intersectionality as a theoretical research framework, the analysis of these works demonstrates that when the matrix of social power is dissected, the existing networks of oppression are exposed. While both versions are centred around gender, Donoghue and Garner employ different strategies, namely queer alliances and parodic scenes respectively, with the aim of overcoming the same structural obstacles. The resulting characters are rebellious and successful women who challenge tradition and open new horizons for female empowerment through the reinvention of the fairy tale genre.


Fairy Tales, Gender, Intersectionality, Cinderella, Emma Donoghue, James Finn Garner

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.5p.239


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