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Patriarchy in Fairy Tales - A Feasible Idea?

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The rough draft of my EE is due to my adviser on November 20th and I am freaking out. I asked my first- and second-year English Lit HL teachers (both of whom are trained to be EE advisers, one of them being mine) if it was a feasible idea to write about patriarchy shown in Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. One said yes, the other said I would need to narrow it down to an archetype (such as damsels in distress). However, I have spent hours and hours researching this topic and I just can't find articles or journals or any secondary sources that really work with my topic. So I suppose my question is: how important is it to have secondary sources such as literary criticisms that back up my claims? I am planning on exploring women's rights movements in Denmark during the time when Andersen wrote and published his most famous works (like The Little Mermaid) as well. I am so scared about this. 

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Don't be scared; you're working hard and that's a recipe for success; be kind to yourself. The EE is undoubtedly extremely tough, but it will all be okay and one day you'll look back on it and probably think of a combination of choice words and also not remember it much. I do have to ask you a few questions: 

Are you reading the original stories in Danish and writing the essay in Danish? If not, why are your teacher's advisors allowing you to this? IB does not allow this.

Because you would be analyzing the women's right movement in Denmark at the time, etc.; something outside of sources allowed for categories 1 and 2 (that is not the text of scholarly analysis of the text, author interview, etc.) this is a category 3 essay. The problem is that you use this as a category 3 essay because you not analyzing something originally produced in English. If you analyze the women's right movement in Denmark at the time, etc., that is a category 3 essay to my understanding. You should not include that in a category 1 or 2 essay as IB does not consider that to be valid literary analysis.

I'd really recommend sticking to lit analysis as you're in Lit HL and not Lang. Lit. If you stick to just literary analysis, then assuming you aren't writing and reading in Danish, you'd have to compare one or more of Andersen's works to a work originally published in English. This would be a category 2 essay. Avoid analyzing/making claims about how it affected society. Just focus on the messages of the texts and how those messages were achieved. There' s a lot more in-depth posts on this in the Lit forum and honestly your Lit HL teacher should be able to help with that.

You should consult the EE subject guide for literature and language essays (categories 1, 2, and 3) Frankly, I'd be shocked if it's the case that your mentor/teacher would not have known to question you about analyzing just translated works and not an English counterpart. But it's also okay if he/she hasn't, you've been working hard and you can take that work and combine it with new analysis on another book. Who knows, it might even make things easier. Good luck and try not to worry too much. Question your mentor/teacher.IB coordinator about the category 1/category 2 issue I raised. Also, if you know any kids who have gone through the EE process and graduated or just your friends who are going through it now; talk to them, cry to them, and laugh about its absurdity. They're there.

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Thank you so much, Nomenclature! I have no clue why my adviser did not catch this - but she emailed the IBO and then I was told I couldn't do my topic anymore. I now have 7 days and I have no ideas on what to do. Your insight saved mine and two other EE grades. But now I am so stuck! I don't even have any ideas on a topic??!


EDIT: Could I do an analysis of the biblical parallels in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? That is originally written in English, although the Bible was translated from Hebrew/Greek.. so would that be 1. feasible and 2. category 2?

Edited by Vampy1816

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Yes, that is a viable topic.

Being really technical, I'd honestly classify that as a category I essay because you aren't actually analyzing the Bible, even though you're using it as a source and can quote from it in your essay (you're analyzing the effect of biblical allusions in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; nothing else).

But that doesn't matter; it's a good essay topic. Happy reading and although it may be stressful, just remember you're doing a good job, so try not to stress. You aren't going to fail (that's the most important thing with the EE), and potentially will get a good score because Literature is one of the easiest topics to score well in on the EE. Good luck.


A bitter person who did a History EE :P

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