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Social Construction in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Essay Sample)


All quarter, we've been reading, talking about, and writing about the course question:
How do Disney films contribute to the construction of society's values and norms about gender roles?
Everything that you've done in this class thus far is the foundation for your essay, because the essay is basically where you pull together everything you've learned from reading, writing, and talking over the last 8 weeks.
The script and accompanying materials (screen captures from your films, sources you/your group used) you put together for your portion of the podcast should be the starting point for your essay. You can also use any part of your exploratory writing, peer reviews, or annotations to build your essay and answer the question.
At this point, the hard part shouldn't be that you don't have anything to say in response to the course question. The hard part is focusing all that you now know into the best set of information for the purpose of this essay. Here are some of the requirements for the essay that should help you focus:
1. Write a thesis-driven essay. The thesis is your angle on answering the question. You can't cover every Disney film and every character--so you choose some examples from one film (or from a few films--no more than 3) and they help define the angle you're taking to answer the question.
The thesis is the main idea of the essay. It is a statement that answers the question in a specific way. The thesis "drives" the rest of the essay. In other words, keep every paragraph focused on developing the thesis.
2. This is an analysis essay, and more specifically a textual analysis essay, which means the essay is structured around a few specific excerpts from the text, and these examples all help to develop the thesis. Since you're analyzing films, the excerpts are scenes. Identify and analyze a few specific scenes from at least one (but no more than 3) Disney films from the list. Choose scenes that clearly help you develop your answer to the question.
You can refer to other films that are non-Disney (for example, earlier Iron Man films, earlier Star Wars, etc)--but do not make them the focus of your analysis. Use them only for comparison purposes. In other words, the scenes that you analyze should come from the Disney films on the list.
3. Include at least one image as part of your development. This image must be a screenshot from a film scene you are analyzing. Include a caption below the image to tell what film it comes from, and explain the image in the text of your essay.
4. Use at least 5 sources to help with the development. This does not include other films--these should be articles, essays, podcasts, blogs, etc. Sources that are talking about the films you are analyzing or that provide contextual information about the film.
5. Include a list of Works Cited at the end (MLA style; Recommended: use EasyBib

6. Minimum Length: 1300 words Maximum Length: 1500 words
● To check the word count of your essay: In Google Docs, go to the Tools dropdown menu (top of page) and then choose Word Count
● The word count does NOT include the Works Cited
7. Use MLA Style for formatting.
Links to Films & Essays We've Read
● "What is Toxic Masculinity?"
● "Looking into the Magic Mirror"
● "Did Disney Shape How You See the World?"
● "With Rogue One, the Star Wars Franchise Gets Even More Feminist
● "Masculinity, Marvel Style"


Social Construction in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Social construction refers to the joint construction of understanding that occurs as a result of human interaction – meanings, ideas, and beliefs are placed on objects as a result of human beings agreeing on a fixed perception for them (Leeds-Hurwitz). Knowledge is created within a social context with human beings having shared assumptions. This means that the meanings placed on a majority of things that may not be accurate reflections of the reality in question (Leeds-Hurwitz). For instance, human perceptions and values regarding gender are constructed by the social environment as opposed to the actual biological reality that one’s sex predisposes them to. Gender differs from sex with the latter being the biological reality of one’s body while the former has only been constructed by shared ideas that human societies have adopted over time. Human beings can either be male or female only by virtue of their biological configuration. However, the attributes and values associated with being either male or female are based on the perceptions that human beings have imposed on them throughout history. Therefore, being either male or female is an idea that has been constructed based on human beings sharing an understanding of gender that is not objectively real.
Disney is an especially important media company when it comes to shaping cultural values because of a variety of factors. The company’s reach is vast as evidenced by its mainstream success and massive revenues. Furthermore, its reach has been accelerated by technological developments such as the advancement of the internet that has enabled Disney movies to be viewed across the globe. Disney movies are among the most popular films that are considered family friendly – this means that several children grow up with their families exposing them to several of the films (Gray). For this reason, Disney films must have influenced several generations of people who have been watching them during childhood. It is also noteworthy that childhood forms the period in life when one is most impressionable. Thus, the impressions which Disney films have had on people today mean that much of the ideas people hold regarding the world have been affected by these films (Gray). In the same way, Disney has definitely contributed towards many people’s understanding of gender in the manner that social construction of ideas takes place.
One of the notable Disney films throughout history is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that was released in 1937. This movie forms an excellent example of the way that Disney is able to influence human understandings and values that are ascribed to gender. The movie was written by Ted Sears and directed by David Hand. Among the actors who played the characters in the film are; Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Harry Stockwell, Roy Atwell, Pinto Colvig, Otis Harlan, Scotty Mattraw, Billy Gilbert, Eddie Collins, Moroni Olsen, and Stuart Buchanan. The movie received generally favorable ratings such as 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.6/10 on IMDb. It also received a rating of 95% on Metacritic.
As previously mentioned, Disney movies are partially responsible for shaping the cultural values that society holds regarding gender. In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the protagonist is a young lady – this is a running theme with the majority of Disney films that are narratives regarding princesses (Hoerrner 214). In this film, Snow White is portrayed using a majority of gender stereotypes that undoubtedly become embedded within the audience’s psyche. The first stereotype that is evident in the film is that of gender roles. When the female character – Snow White – encounters the dwarfs, it is she who is tasked with doing household chores (Xu 328). The dwarfs who are all male are incapable of taking care of themselves leaving her with all the housekeeping duties. This is an obvious instance of this Disney film portraying gender roles (Xu 328). It is in so doing that the film reinforces the socially constructed idea that females are supposed to engage in housekeeping activities as males are incapable of doing the same.
Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 1: Snow White housekeeping
In this film as well, it is evident that several of the characters are obsessed with appearances. Snow White’s own stepmother is a vain queen who constantly asks her magic mirror to affirm that she is the most beautiful female in the land (Xu 328). The stepmother’s vanity is made apparent when she flies into a rage after realizing that Snow White is prettier than her. Snow White is then sent away by the huntsman who was supposed to kill her because of her stepmother’s jealousy regarding her good looks (Xu 327). Even the dwarfs she encounters are all struck by Snow White’s beauty. Therefore, this film shows a preoccupation with female appearances (Hoerrner 214). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a film that reinforces the stereotype that female value is based on having good looks and being pretty (Hoerrner 214). In so doing, this film contributes towards the social construction of beauty as an extremely valuable attribute for the female gender. Thus, the film shows how Disney contributes towards the gender values held in the society today.
Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 2: Snow White's evil stepmother and her magic mirror
Another of the ways through which Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs contributes towards gender values is evident in the stereotypical feminine traits displayed by the protagonist. This film implies that females must demonstrate stereotypically feminine traits such as those displayed here (Hoerrner 214). It is commonly believed that attributes such as kindness and thoughtfulness are traits that women must possess. These attributes are in abundance within this film as the protagonist displays when she sets out doing all the housekeeping for the seven dwarfs (Xu 327-328). Gender values such as thoughtfulness and kindness are widely associated with the female gender because films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs continue to further these ideas (Hoerrner 215). This is evidence of Disney helping to construct ideas about the ideal female nature by making the protagonist of its film demo

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