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Title:Louisa May Alcott and the Female Fairy Tale (Form, Massachusetts)
Author(s):Zehr, Janet Susan
Department / Program:English
Discipline:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Biography
Literature, American
Abstract:When Louisa May Alcott wrote her first book, Flower Fables, at the age of sixteen, she had already discovered the form that would shape many of her fictions: the female-centered fairy tale. Her version of it, appearing repeatedly in her popular children's fictions, features a heroine, frequently orphaned, who either desires something or, less often, is wronged by a villain. Traveling forth to look for her desires, she is helped by a wise donor. The tales climax in difficult tasks or struggles with villains. Finally, the heroine triumphs, is transfigured, and is rewarded with marriage and sometimes a type of coronation.
Though Alcott seems to affirm womanly strength through this form, she manipulated its predictability and capacity for infinite expansion pirmarily to meet her audiences' demands for excitement, realism, and instruction. Both her iconoclastic sensation stories and her personal correspondence indicate that she had little respect for this genre. Because she so frequently wrote formulaic fiction "to suit customers," as she put it, Alcott's real opinions about women and their roles elude the reader.
Issue Date:1985
Type:Text
Description:221 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/69446
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8600357
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1985


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