7 ♦ Hansel and Gretel

I have memories of sitting in a computer science lecture and viewing a graph of what looked to be white noise.  “You may think it looks random, but a truly random pattern wouldn’t look so evenly distributed.”  This Deal Me In challenge is confirming it in every respect – my thorough shuffling may have been random, but that doesn’t necessarily equal balanced!

I’ll assume you know the story of “Hansel and Gretel”…there is really not a whole lot I can add to it.  It does bring me to the question – why are the antagonists in fairy tales so very often female?  And not just female, but in a twisted mother-figure role: the stepmother in “Hansel and Gretel,” the stepmother in “Cinderella,” the Snow Queen, all the witches, etc.  Now I’d be curious to know whether the original storytellers were male or female, and whether any of these stories were based on real life events.  After I finish this challenge, I think I’ll be seeking out further reading about the Grimm brothers and their collection of stories.

What say you – any theories as to why it’s always evil stepmothers and wicked witches?