Psychiatry Investig.  2019 Nov;16(11):836-842. 10.30773/pi.2019.0132.

Shift from Wicked Stepmother to Stepmother in Eastern and Western Fairy Tales

Affiliations
  • 1Deparment of Psychiatry, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea. mompeian@khu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Myongji Hospital, Goyang, Republic of Korea.

Abstract


OBJECTIVE
The image of the wicked stepmother has created a prejudice against stepmothers, which makes it difficult for them to adjust to their stepfamilies. This study compared fairy tales from different cultures to reestablish the nature of stepmothers.
METHODS
Grimms' Fairy Tales (GFT) was used to represent Western culture, with stepmother characters appearing in 15 out of 210 tales. "The Collection of Korean Traditional Fairy Tales" (KFT) was used to represent Eastern culture, with stepmother characters featured in 14 out of 15,107 tales. We examined the relationships between stepmothers and stepchildren in GFT and KFT.
RESULTS
Daughters were abused more often than sons in both genres. In GFT, jealousy spurred the abuse in 12 of 15 cases, while in KFT greed was predominant in 12 of 14 cases.
CONCLUSION
The fairy tale portrayals of wicked stepmothers may be associated with the stigma children place on their stepmothers, which needs to be overcome.

Keyword

Stepparent; Culture; Folklore; Divorce; Marriage

MeSH Terms

Child
Divorce
Folklore
Humans
Jealousy
Marriage
Nuclear Family
Parents
Prejudice
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