112th Annual Conference - Riverside Convention Center, California
Friday, October 31 - Sunday, November 2, 2014

This page is about the 2014 conference. For 2015 conference info, go to PAMLA 2015.

Like Mother, Like Daughter: The Apple Doesn't Fall Too Far from the Tree

Masha Grigoryan, Los Angeles Pierce College

This paper analyzes the mother-daughter relationship from two perspectives: how Disney’s versions of the mother-daughter relationship in popularized princess fairytales create a problematic picture of family; and how the mother-daughter relationship can be a deciding factor in the personality of the child and can promote unhealthy lineage, using the developed Snow White story in the new TV series Once Upon a Time.

Proposal: 

In general, most stories are a reflection of who we are and who we want to become. This is why many stories present child protagonists who are guided by or protected by adult characters, often parent figures. A good parent, we are told, strives to protect his/her child from the dangers of the outside world. But what if that parent fails? And not only fails, but intentionally puts the child in harm’s way? Or even worse, is absent altogether, unable to provide protection? In many of the popularized Western fairytales most of us have come to know, the story centers on a parent-child relationship, yet oftentimes the mother is either missing altogether or is replaced with an evil stepmother who wishes to destroy the (usually female) child. Children, who are to continue the lineage, come to lack the very fabric of family: love, care, nurture. What does this say about our society? What do we expect of our children, especially our daughters? There has been much feminist criticism over the years about the delusional fantasies that fairytales imbed in young girls about true love and waiting for her personal prince charming on a white horse. However, there hasn’t been very much scholarship on the subject of mother-daughter relations in these stories and what role the adult figure plays in the child’s life, and how telling our children such stories influences them in turn. This paper analyzes the mother-daughter relationship from two perspectives: how Disney’s versions of the mother-daughter relationship in popularized princess fairytales create a problematic picture of family; and how the mother-daughter relationship can be a deciding factor in the personality of the child and can promote unhealthy lineage, using the developed Snow White story in the new TV series Once Upon a Time. Through this analysis, I hope to show that while having a mother figure in a story for children is important, it is more important to take notice of what kind of mother figure she is, for not all mothers are inherently inclined to strive for what is best for their child, and, unfortunately, children tend to follow in their footsteps.   

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