A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Women’s Roles in the Algerian Folktale

Issue 46
Women’s Roles in the Algerian Folktale

By Abdul Hamid Burayo


In this study, our aim is to examine tales that focus on women and that are narrated by women at home at specific times. These include:


  1. The fairy tale (a tale of wonders) in which a woman is a victimised heroine
  2. The fairy tale (a tale of wonders) in which a woman becomes an aggressor or is allied with aggressive monsters
  3. Tales of social realism (some folk tales have a special meaning) in which women break the rules and values of the predominant social system by playing the role of the aggressor or villain.


  1. First type:

The first type is the pure folktale or ‘contes merveilleux proprement dit’, which belongs to the second type of fairy tale identified by Vladimir Propp, the famous Russian folklorist.


  1. Second type:

In this type, the role of the hero is played by a young man who is accompanied by his sister or mother at the beginning of the story. Over the course of events, the woman (sister or mother) shifts from the role of the hero’s supporter (protagonist) to the role of the aggressor (antagonist). The woman who initially appears to be a victim becomes an aggressor and threatens the hero's life towards the end of the tale.


  1. Third type:

This type of tale depicts social and psychological reality and adheres to a norm that is very different to those identified by Vladimir Propp. When analysed, we find it is restricted to a very limited number of functions and almost without the wondrous element that is abundantly available in the previous types of tales. In this genre, heroism is based purely on human abilities and is not supplemented by supernatural powers. The other world (the unknown or metaphysical world) disappears, and the conflict is between human forces or masculinity and femininity.

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