Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Shawna Lichtenwalner

Committee Members

Ana Grinberg, Theresa Lloyd


This thesis provides a comparative analysis of seven different variants of the fairy tale commonly known as “Donkeyskin,” classified in the Aarne-Thompson-Uther folktale motif index as ATU 510B. By comparing so many different iterations of one fairy tale, it is easier to recognize the inherent attitudes concerning women and their place in society contained in this tale. Additionally, reading multiple variants from different centuries lends a perspective on the way that these attitudes changed over the centuries. Each of the thirteenth century texts considered end with their heroines trapped in loveless marriages, much like the seventeenth-century fairy tale, “Donkeyskin,” their direct literary descendant. The nineteenth century texts then present death or marriage as the alternatives for women, while the twentieth century brings the first instance of a heroine choosing for herself. This comparison allows the reader to learn not only what was considered a “happy ending” at the time, but also to gain a better understanding of the means by which a woman could gain agency.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.