Friday, November 4, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday #5: Shoes

According to, "Shoes are a symbol of female sexuality." They can represent beauty, empowerment, independence, sexual nature, etc. Heels may show sexiness but also courage. (I mean, you must be brave to wear those high heels.) Boots may show toughness. Sneakers may show comfort and fitness.

When you think about shoes in fairy tales, the most likely image is of Cinderella's glass slippers. I can't possibly imagine a woman being comfortable in walking around in them, let alone dancing in them. Of course, if they are magical, then they probably feel like air. Charles Perrault was actually the one who introduce the glass slippers into his version of Cinderella. (He also added the pumpkin and the fairy godmother into the fairy tale.)

Glass shoes seem naked and fragile. What does this say about Cinderella?

According to
"The glass slippers provided by Perrault have also been the source of great debate among folklore scholars. For years, the predominant theory was that the original tale included "fur" (French: vair) and not "glass" (French: verre), but that misprints and mistranslations from French sources have given us the famous glass slippers. Now most scholars believe Perrault intended the shoes to be made of glass to add to their magical quality (Tatar 2002)."
In the Grimm Brothers' version, the shoes are made of gold which is still extraordinary. Gold is expensive. Gold is precious. Gold is sought after. Those female guests at the ball must have died of envy.

In "The Red Shoes," a girl who grew up poor, tricks her new, rich adoptive mother into buying her red shoes fit for a princess. This girl would wear these shoes to church all the time. Of course, the people around her are offended. Later on, the red shoes become her punishment when she can't stop dancing and eventually she has her feet chopped off.

The red shoes represent vanity. They shock people with the boldness of the color. In the fairy tale, the red shoes also become her punishment.

In "Snow White," the Evil Queen is punished with shoes. She is forced to step into heated iron shoes and dance until she dies. Here, she is punished for her vanity, her greed, and overall wickedness. Not only are the shoes made of heavy metal which would tire the wearer out, they are also on fire. Burn, burn, burn! The Queen can't stop dancing. Who would stand still while their feet are burning?

The heated iron shoes are meant as punishment.

Shoes may represent who you are, but be careful. They may end up punishing you!


Sonia said...

I think some of my high heels already do punish me. ; }

sugarpeach said...

Agree with Sonia. My high heels are punishment for me... but I still love wearing them. :D

Jennifer said...

When i think of fairytales and shoes i also think of Cinderella and the glass slipper. I never really thought about fairytales and shows before though.

Munnaza said...

I always knew shoes were significant in fairytales, but I never made the connection between empowerment and sexiness and courage, so that's incredibly interesting.

Shoes in these tales always make me think of Cinderella's glass slipper first. I love that you mentioned how naked and fragile they seem - I always thought they represented her in some way, so that's a great point to make.

For some reason, I didn't know that the evil queen even died in Snow White! Death by heated iron shoes! Huh. Wow.

(On the cover for Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Cinderella's shoe is featured, and it's red! With this post and your post on the color red, I'm going to be re-evaluating the entire book in my reread.)

Kulsuma said...

It's pretty strange to think that shoes are so important, but then again, shoes were important in China; they used to bind their feet.

FairyWhispers said...

Heated shoes?

I've never heard of them before actually

primrose said...

I never heard of The Red Shoes story before. Thanks for highlighting it. Shoes are such an important element for a woman. It's much more than an accessory. I think it's a symbol of feminine.

Post a Comment