A Stoichiometric Analysis of Gender Depiction in Selected African and European Folktales

  • Peace Sorochi Longdet
Keywords: stoichiometry, gender, violence, the female body, Euro-Afrocentric, folktales


This paper explores the application of stoichiometric analogy to understand the presentations of gender in African and European folktales. The cultural context of both settings is crucial in understanding the perception of gender constructs in the folk culture of these two geographical settings. The female characters are the focal point of this interpretative reading and allow the reader to view the presentation of the women as multidimensional in various cultural settings. I seek to unearth how seemingly harmless assumptions about female form part of a much larger, subtle and profoundly chauvinist system of gendered power inequality and the struggle between men and women. The analysis will also focus on identifying the culture’s core concerns about and preoccupations with the relationship between the sexes. The analysis suggests that cultural materials are a leeway to a people’s collective conscience, and include gendered patterns of inequality, obsessions, overt control and fears. The work studies the depiction of the female characters in the selected folktales to reveal a social system in which all women (Eurocentric and Afrocentric) are both vulnerable and acutely aware of their gendered vulnerability and perception. The primary texts that I will analyse are; ‘The Fisherman and his Wife’ (Germany), ‘The White Maiden’ (Germany), ‘The Magician's Daughter’ (Sweden), ‘The Slave Girl who tried to kill her mistress’ (Nigeria), and ‘The Doomed Prince’ (Egypt).