Shedding Skin

In order to support my claim, I used the AntConc tool in order to pick out patterns throughout my corpus by searching through terms such as “bride,” “woman/women,” and “wife”. Please select the downward arrow on the far right of the titles to see the results.

I searched “bride” and found that most of the results connect to the titles of the stories and the act of mortal men finding their brides. The word either appears the when the mortal husband-to-be begins their active search for a bride or when they ask/decide that the shapeshifting animal would be his bride.

Concordance Results
Concordance Plot Results

After the results of “bride,” I added “woman/women” into my search terms. I searched the term “wom*” and found that the results are significantly greater than “bride”. Most notably, the results that refer to the Animal Bride connect the word to “beautiful” and “lovely” as seen below.

Concordance Results
Concordance Plot Results

After searching the term “wife,” the term is mostly used for Animal Brides who have already crossed over to the realm of man after marrying their mortal spouse. And, when not attached to the Animal Bride, it is used as a potential possibility as the human groom sets out to find a wife to marry.

Concordance Results
Concordance Plot Results

For the Concordance Plot Results specifically, it is important to note that “wife” appears later when compared to the Concordance Plot Results for “wom*” (woman/women).

Analysis of Results

At first, I only limited by search terms to “Bride” and “Wife” since I assumed that those titles would be a shared pattern throughout all of the stories. I realized only after searching “Bride” that, despite falling under the archetype titled “Animal Bride,” the brides are not referred to as such until they reveal their human forms and, even then, the Animal Brides were seen as potential “wives” to the human men instead of “brides”. Though the terms “woman/women” does not replace “brides,” the result still shows how the Animal Brides are not recognized as spouses (“wife”) until their beautiful and lovely forms (“wom*”) are revealed.

When looking back at the cultures that the fairy tales and folktales came from, there are parallels between the brides and wives in the Animal Bride tales and what women experience since many societies expect wives to not only leave her home after marriage, but to also adapt into their new surroundings, which is the familiar to their husbands.

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