Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Modern Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Erika Nelson




fairy tales, Bruder Grimm


This thesis analyzes the portrayal of mother figures in German fairy tales. Given Western patriarchal society's need for good mothers, and the incredibly high standards for mothers to be considered good, there exists a dichotomous representation of mothers in fairy tales. Mothers are commonly represented as being absent in fairy tales, very often dead before the children in the story reach puberty. Another common representation of mothers in fairy tales is being evil, usually with a vendetta against the main character or characters. The evil mothers are often stepmothers who have taken the place of the deceased mother or mothers-in-law who feel threatened by the daughters-in-law. Unable to meet the almost unattainably high standards for good mothers, fairy tale mothers are instead condemned as bad and evil. Using fairy tales primarily from the Bruder Grimm collection, this thesis will compare representations across fairy tales and delve into the meanings behind the mothers' roles in the stories.