Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Critical multicultural analysis of reconstructed folk tales: Rumpelstiltskin is my name, power is my game

Jane Elizabeth Kelley, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Many people believe folk and fairy tales convey a set of universal truths and beliefs; however, scholars, researchers, and folklorists have questioned or challenged this supposition. There are many versions of traditional tales and reworked tales that provide different points of view. Tale Type 500: The Name of the Helper, classified by Aarne-Thompson, is one tale that has a number of counter perspectives. While there are many variations of this tale, the Grimms' Rumpelstiltskin is the most well known. There is a lack of scholarly investigation of both the original tale and its manifestations and reconstructions. Reconstructed versions of Tale Type 500 provide more information about characters' motives with the intent of providing a different ideology. The methodology of this dissertation applies a critical multicultural analysis (Rudman & Botelho, forthcoming) to examine power in adaptations of Tale Type 500 written for children and young adults. Critical multicultural analysis is an approach that helps readers identify and analyze power relations in literature. Specifically, this study examines the fluidity of the power that characters exercise on a continuum: domination, collusion, resistance, and agency. First, this study examines characters' actions regarding how power is exercised by identifying the power on a continuum of domination through agency. Second, this study examines which characters benefit from the power exercised, and how they benefit. Third, this study identifies which characters are disadvantaged from power and how. Following each analysis is a discussion about the implications for children in America's society today. The findings of this study, indicate that power relationships are a prominent theme in the reconstructed versions of Tale Type 500. Three general themes emerged in this study: (1) readers can look at power relations in children's literature and see how the texts reflect critical theory about power relations, (2) some authors of children's literature consciously apply critical literacy practices, and (3) few texts portray characters exercising the power of agency. By identifying social implications of text ideologies and questioning the issues of power in children's literature, critical readers can consider how texts counteract, maintain, or promote alternative systemic power structures.

Subject Area

Language arts|Curricula|Teaching|Literacy|Reading instruction|Folklore

Recommended Citation

Kelley, Jane Elizabeth, "Critical multicultural analysis of reconstructed folk tales: Rumpelstiltskin is my name, power is my game" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3118309.