Molly Saunders, an English and Classics Major, presents a project based on her English Senior Seminar entitled “Everything is a Story: The Power of Storytelling Girls in Victorian and Edwardian Children’s Literature. Never have I been so tempted to read Victorian literature, in particular “A Little Princess”, “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” and “Peter and Wendy”.
The “story-telling girl” is a trope that had not been mentioned in this particular field before Molly decided to explore it. Molly claims that these young girls are self-conscious story-tellers who use literature to “create [their] own world”. For example, Sara from “A Little Princess” uses reading to critique social norms in society, including class structure, the British colonialism of India, and the method of education. In Molly’s own words, the “Storytelling Girl” trope represents a pattern of female empowerment in literature for children beginning in the Victorian Era and continuing through to today.”
Although story-telling in these novels is not infallible (since reality is eventually asserted in every story) the young girl’s “story-telling magic” manages to transform their worlds in some way. Sara, Wendy, and Alice find within themselves the power to use story-telling from a fictional base in order to affect the reality around them, despite the many adversities that they face. By the end of the presentation, every member of the audience seemed convinced of the female empowerment revealed in the actions of the little girls. The hands immediately went up, ready to unleash a barrage of questions on the young senior. I can’t help but believe that everyone in that room left as inspired as I did.