Stereotypes through stories

Hello all!

We are small group of students called Vaskikellot from HAAGA-HELIA UAS. and our group’s work is to find out how stereotypes were created and how those are shown here and now. We selected three different stories: Ugly duckling, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas and stereotypes, which are easily recognized from the stories, are easily compared to a modern world.

Ugly Duckling, which is written by H.C Andersen in 1843, tells about a little bird who suffers abuse from his family until he turns into a beautiful swan. Hunchback of Notre Dame is a story about Quasimodo, a deformed child, who lived in a church tower, hiding from society. Pocahontas tells about Indians and European settlers, who came to conquer the New World, having a gold blink on their eyes.

All of these stories have almost same themes such as discrimination, racism, disrespect and inferiority. People form prejudices about differences because they don’t understand or don’t even want to. They also might be insecure or jealous about those, who are “significantly” different.  Things for example races are easier to deal with larger volumes.

Can you think of any other stories where similar themes appear?

We are looking forward reading your replies


The group of Vaskikellot

Keywords: , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Stereotypes through stories”

  1. Jaclyn Breg says:

    Hello group of Vaskikellot,

    After reading your post on stereotypes are reinforced through stories, I began to talk to my housemate about it because she took a children’s literature course last semester. Her course analyzed how certain roles and groups of people are portrayed in children’s stories and how that subtly affects the viewer’s stereotypes. She was telling me about how there is a lot of racial discrimination in Disney movies especially. For example, in the movie Tarzan, though it takes place in Africa, there are no African people shown. In The Lion King, the portrayal of the hyenas reflects the slang speech of some African American groups. Also, in Lady and the Tramp the characters of the Siamese Cats are depicted as Asian.

    My housemate was saying that, in Disney movies, any rebellious or antagonistic characters tend to be portrayed as being from another race. This was an interesting point which I have never noticed, but after hearing all of her examples, I realize that it is true. It is kind of frightening to think that children are learning these racial stereotypes through their entertainment. Are you familiar with these Disney stories?

    • Piia Samsten says:

      Hi Jaclyn,

      Yes we are and actually never thought about those stories in that way before. As a relief other stories like Cinderella popped into our minds. In Cinderella story there were evil step mother and evil step sisters, who abuse Cinderella and they were all same race and also from same social class. And speaking of social classes and their differences it’s an endless road. It’s been gone for too long and even in twentieth century the discrimination between them still happens. The story about Rose and Jack on Titanic, Lion King 2, where Kiara isn’t allow to hang out the Outsiders and Robin Hood, where rich ones try ruthlessly control poor ones with taxes.

      But then again the story about Aristocats came into our minds. In that story cats from different social classes danced together and fell in love with each other. Not forgetting Lady and the Tramp too. So our point is that even though all children’s stories are full of discrimination they still teach not to discriminate anybody. Good always wins at the end, right? So we think that way children learn what is right and what is wrong and see that it’s better to except other like he/she is (Lady and the Tramp, Aristocats, Titanic) and not care about differences. Difference is a gift and all of us should cherish it.

      So we think we should focus for the good things stories are giving to us. What do you think? Can you remember other stories, which have also happy endings?


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.