Within the novel, Jeanette Winterson utilizes the individual stories of The Twelve Dancing Princesses in order to make a statement about the usual, subversive nature of femininity in a patriarchal society. In this reclaimed story, the author chooses to give the women princesses a voice of determination, one that undercuts the nature of the usual fairy tale story ending. In each of the stories that the princesses tell, the male figure is oppressive, dominating, foul, and overall a burden to the women. In turn, the women decide to run away with secret lovers, or to kill their respective husbands in order to live a better life. Through the use of this story, Winterson achieves further contrast to the main characters' story lines given that Jordan is in search of a meaningful link between himself and the gender roles offered in society while Dog Woman is consistently portrayed as a highly masculine character with larger than life qualities that set her apart from the standards of femininity according to societal norms.
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