Children's Literature and Sexism Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

children's stories can also express complex feelings meant to instruct young individuals regarding attitudes that they need to employ in order to integrate society as healthy persons. In addition to providing their readers with intriguing events, writers also focus on introducing social issues with the purpose of having their readers acknowledge the fact that society has a tendency to discriminate particular individuals or groups. While Robert Munsch's "The Paper Bag Princess" displays the difficult relationship between an intelligent princess and her sexist prince, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson's "And Tango Makes Three" goes at proving that a couple does not necessarily have to adapt to social norms in order for it to experience happiness.

One of the first things that someone is likely to think about when considering children's books would be that they are essentially meant to assist young people as they try to understand society. However, while these books would primarily be meant to teach them the difference between right and wrong and to educate them with regard to the behavior that they should put across in order to be accepted, some texts go further and teach them concerning how society can be a place filled with stereotypes. Moreover, these books instruct children and influence them in developing thinking that treats all people equal regardless of their background.

The protagonist in Munsch's "The Paper Bag Princess," Princess Elizabeth, is initially inclined to act in accordance with social norms and express little to no hesitance in regard to wearing expensive outfits, even with the fact that she seems to be acquainted with the fact that people worldwide suffer as a consequence of poverty. However, while most readers are likely to discriminate her as a result of her apparent snobbish attitude, her character rapidly progresses as she comes across a situation that requires much more than being a princess.

Elizabeth realizes that it is up to her to save her prince and does not feel impeded by the fact that he no longer has her clothes to assist her in doing so. Even with the fact that society's pressures imposed a certain dress code when considering a princess, Elizabeth feels that she no longer needs to focus on material values and that it is essential for her to get actively involved in saving Prince Ronald.

Some parents might feel disturbed as a consequence of thinking about their children picturing Elizabeth as she loses one of the most important things in the world -- glamour. However, this is exactly what the writer intended at the moment when he wrote the book. He wanted his readers to understand that a person's actual value can be seen at the time when he or she is no longer assisted by material values. Most of the world would behave similar to Prince Ronald after seeing Elizabeth dressed in a paper bag. This is because society teaches individuals in regard to how material values are very important for someone to succeed.

Prince Ronald is the perfect embodiment of social attitudes regarding materials values. He considers that a princess needs to wear expensive garments in order for her to truly put across her attributes. He is unable to see beyond Elizabeth's appearance at the time when he sees her dressed in a paper bag. He wants Elizabeth to return when she is "dressed like a real princess" (Munsch).

One can go as far as to say that Elizabeth indirectly promotes feminist values as a result of the fact that she singlehandedly gets involved in a difficult mission even with the fact that most people would not expect this from a woman. She basically rises above stereotypes associated with women by proving that she is capable of acting in disagreement with most traditional children stories that involve a prince saving a princess. Some people are even probable to dislike "The Paper Bag Princess" because it virtually has very little to do with children stories that have clearly defined roles -- princes are saviors while princesses are damsels in distress.

Prince Ronald is surely a sexist when considering his attitude concerning Elizabeth. Taking into account his reaction at the moment when he realizes that Elizabeth is wearing a paper bag, one might be inclined to consider that he feels less attracted to the princess as a result of how he comes to perceive her. It is probable that Ronald feels that he cannot stay with a girl who took on the role of a savior and directly diminished his position by doing so.

By realizing that she had the power to save Prince Ronald, Elizabeth no longer feels that she needs to depend on someone in order to feel happy and does not feel sorry at the time when the prince no longer wants to be with her. Ronald indirectly made it possible for her to become independent by providing her with the opportunity to save him. Elizabeth's feelings play an important role in assisting her as she discovers her abilities and the fact that she has all she needs in order to feel happy.

Munsch apparently wants readers to understand that one first needs to go through a shock in order for the respective person to be able to have a complex comprehension of the world. Elizabeth acted in disagreement with how stereotypes would normally influence individuals in thinking that she would act. This is owed to the fact that she considered that she had a strong connection with Ronald -- a connection that did not have anything to do with material values. The writer emphasizes that he is in favor of Elizabeth's decision by closing the book with the phrase: "They didn't get married after all" (Munsch).

Ronald is frustrated with his situation and cannot possibly imagine himself alongside of a woman who is equal and even stronger than him. This fuels his sexist attitude and makes it impossible for Elizabeth to be appreciated as a result of her actions. There is no place for women like Elizabeth in a patriarchal society that considers that it is important for men and women to take on their traditional roles. "The Paper Bag Princess" is intended to have readers learn that sexism is particularly harmful and that they should first concentrate on positive attitudes before they jump to conclusions. Ronald was unable to see Elizabeth for who she really was because she was influenced by the society that he lived in.

Roy and Silo, the two main characters in "And Tango Makes Three" are intriguing primarily because they do not want to act in agreement with nature's legislations. These two penguins are apparently well-acquainted with their natural role, but are reluctant to act in accordance with natural laws because they feel that it would be absurd for them to do so in an environment that provides them with little to no opportunities. It appears that the book's writers went through great efforts with the purpose of creating an account that would generate significant controversy. The zoo keeper appears to have an open mind and believed them to "be in love" (Parnell & Richardson).

Similar to Munsch's "The Paper Bag Princess," this book is directed at criticizing social attitudes regarding sexuality. By showing Roy and Silo, the text apparently wants readers to feel compassion and to consider that it would be wrong for them to condemn these animals simply because they feel connected to each-other. In contrast to the social order in "The Paper Bag Princess," the one in "And Tango Makes Three" actually seems to express support regarding the central characters. This is also one of the main reasons for which this book is much more controversial in comparison to Munsch's manuscript.

Munsch only introduces an idea to the world and refrains from actually discussing in regard to it in the book. In contrast, Parnell and Richardson emphasize that society does not hesitate to support the two penguins and that the fact that they receive social acceptance makes it possible for them to cooperate in hatching an egg that would otherwise be lost. Most people traditionally see animals as being 'normal' and criticize ideas relating to homosexual tendencies observed in the animal world.

It is difficult and controversial to get involved in a debate regarding whether or not it would be right to allow children to read "And Tango Makes Three." While some people believe that this book teaches children about deviant attitudes, others believe that it is actually important because it provides young individuals with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of social relationships. One can observe how Parnell and Richardson are more straightforward as a result of the contents of their book and that they seem determined to make a change through their ideas. The writers want people to understand that something good can come out of something that society generally perceives as being bad, considering that Tango was "the very first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies" (Parnell & Richardson).


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