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Essay One

Two well-known fairy tales are Cinderella and The Ugly Ducking. These fairy tales
share similarities in that both stories have a main character- Cinderella and the Ugly Ducklingwho is mistreated and viewed as an outcast by the rest of society. However, the stories each
conclude with a happy-ending leaving the main character content with a new life. Although the
suggested theme would concern an individuals triumph through hardship, there exist subtle
themes as well. An implicit theme observed in these fairy tales deals with the ideology of power
relations. Power relations exist and are the driving force of the plots.
In the fairy tale Cinderella, the power relations that exist in this story are a practice
closely related to hegemony. Cinderella is under the hegemonic rule of her stepmother. Her
stepmother sees her as nothing more than a slave to the family; she works for the luxury of her
stepmother and sisters with nothing in return. This is a case of hegemony because not only is
Cinderella treated inferior to others, but she is taught by her stepmother that she has no value and
her only priority is to serve. According to Raymond Williams, he describes hegemony as, A
more general predominancea particular way of seeing the world and human nature and
relationships (Williams, 145). Cinderella is coerced into this practice. Hegemony can be the
underlying theme in Cinderella because it controls the ideas of what characters follow and
In The Ugly Ducking, the power relations associated with this story are tied in relation
to ideology. Power itself is an ideology in this story as John Lye justifies, How the dominant
institutions in society work through values, conceptions of the worldin order to legitimize the
current order (Lye). The dominant institution is the Ugly Ducklings mother. She had created
the belief that in order to belong to a certain group, you must also look a certain way. Because he

was born differently than the other ducklings, she questioned his flaws, Why are you so
different from the others? thus everyone else saw him as ugly and different. The social order of
this story is ruled by the ideology of the mother and it relies on her role as the dominant
institution to orient peoples thinking in such a way that they accept the current way of doing
thingsand the current understanding of their roles in society (Lye). The roles of the other
characters had structured the story to make the Ugly Duckling feel different, otherwise they
would not have known any better, had there not been the presence of an ideology.
In the two fairy tales Cinderella and The Ugly Duckling, both stories share an
implicit theme of power relations. Both stories can be recognized to have a plot and the roles of
the characters are predetermined by how the power relations are set up. In Cinderella, the
power relations are a practice of hegemony with Cinderella being subject to be ruled by it. In
The Ugly Duckling, the power relations can be seen as ideology formed by the mother in the
story; she created this ideology that in a society, one must fit in by looking like its members. The
practice of ideology was much more effective because the society is coerced into specific ideals
which become their foundation. It can be recognized that since power is exercised in every
relationship, group, and social practice (Lye) power relations can control ideas in literature.