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Fiona from 'Shrek' as a Manly Woman: Character Analysis

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Between the clichés of a love story and a fairytale, the film ‘Shrek’ through the feminist lens shows defiance against male patriarchy, female weakness and self-acceptance issues through Fiona as the storyline follows. Despite Shrek’s wishes to not follow a fairy tale type of storyline let alone any type, he as an ogre falls in love with Fiona unbeknownst that she is an ogre, and likewise, Fiona’s emotions make the story readily a fairytale. Although Fiona is portrayed as a stronger and more powerful female character, there are still many instances of feminism apparent throughout the journey especially when she was an ogre rather than human.

Fiona is a perfect example of feminism in fairy tales. Even as she was once a captive and objectified as a female, she later demonstrates her capabilities as a martial artist and aspects as a strong character while accepting her true identity as an ogre in place of her beautiful looks through her transformation. Though, Shrek himself is not after anything since he accepted himself as undesirable, his encounter with Fiona changes this and sparks a new hope of a life filled with love when he goes out to save the princess who is trapped within a castle so that Farquaad may wed this princess and gain royal status. Aside from Fiona, two other choices for Farquaad were presented as Cinderella and Snow White in stereotypical and domestic ways such as loving to cook and clean, being naive and weak, and relying on men to save them. This is a perfect example of the objectification of women, as Farquaad had only wanted to marry a beautiful princess for the opportunity to become a king, not even going to save the princess on his own.

Furthermore, throughout the film, Fiona seeks validation from others because she thinks that it is not right about herself being part-time ogress. Although despite being rescued at the beginning of the film, Fiona never really gave in to the patriarchal society. Instead, she accepted herself, those she cared for, and fought for what she thought was right. She can be described as a strong heroine who saves herself and loved ones, and ultimately embraces the ogre aspects of herself that she never really fit into her standards. Fiona completely has ridden any types of misconceptions of the passive princess stereotype, categorizing herself into a strong female character who is able to stand up for herself and fight in ways that would normally be considered to be somewhat more masculine.

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To add, Fiona’s concern over her appearance is vital to note because it shows the ways that women are expected by society to have a certain standard of beauty which ends up triggering competition between them. In this society, female characters are often portrayed as secondary characters defined by their beauty, and also that they are unable to be both feminine and strong at the same time.

Though, the main issue for Fiona revolves around living up to a stereotype, the idea represented in fairy tales that if one looks a certain way and act a certain way and sit still and look pretty then Prince Charming will come, dismissing this as an unrealistic and unhealthy approach to finding romance. Once Fiona was freed from the tower with help from Shrek she finally realizes after spending time with him that her idea of ‘Prince Charming’ differs from what she had been taught to expect. Instead, she realizes that someone else can love her for who she truly is, and not what society expects her to be.

In conclusion, in ‘Shrek’, Fiona defies male patriarchy, female weakness and overcome her self-acceptance issues and brings a well-established female character at the end.

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Fiona from ‘Shrek’ as a Manly Woman: Character Analysis. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from
“Fiona from ‘Shrek’ as a Manly Woman: Character Analysis.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023,
Fiona from ‘Shrek’ as a Manly Woman: Character Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2023].
Fiona from ‘Shrek’ as a Manly Woman: Character Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jan 31 [cited 2023 Sept 24]. Available from:
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