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The Power of Women in The Pan’s Labyrinth

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In the movie Pan’s labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro, describe the way women used to live after wars in Spain. Living with harsh man, such as Vidal, women had no right at all. In the begging of the movie, they are seen weak and powerless, but at the end one of the female characters shows how women are intelligent and have power. The movie revolves around three women, each has her own quest to achieve. During their mission, they have to fight the personality of harsh and severe men. Ofelia, Carmen’s daughter has to fight both men’s injustice of the captain and of the Faun in order to complete her mission which is to return to her true home and reach her real parents. Carmen, her mission was to deliver Vidal’s son as well as obeying to Vidal without contravening him. Finally, Mercedes, her mission was to help her brother who is part of the rebels, that Vidal is fighting. Throughout the movie these three women had no right, all they had to do is to be submissive. However, these women were clever and have proven that women are worthy and that they had so much power that it can appear to be.

This movie is revolved around three women who are trying to survive the brutality of men at the time. To begin with Ofelia, the main protagonist. She is the daughter of Carmen. She is an innocent and intelligent girl that was affected by the brutality of two men in this movie. Ofelia was also known as Princess Moanna and she is the daughter of the king of the underworld as the faun describes her. In order to reaches her real parents, Ofelia has to make sure that she has not became a mortal, by completing three tasks given by the Faun. Each task is an opportunity for her to prove herself as well as, to show a form of female empowerment. The first task consists of putting three magic stones in the mouth of a giant toad living inside of a tree. Before entering the tree, Ofelia takes off her nice green dress given by her mother. This scene shows how Ofelia wants to separate between the real world and the world of fairy tales. The dress in this case represents the real world. In the first place, when her mother offered her this dress, she wasn’t existing about it. Her mother wants her to be pretty and this is emphasized on the fact that women are only worth on their appearances and not on their true values. 

The second task was very interesting, because Ofelia disobey to the instruction of the Faun. This wasn’t the first time she does so. The first time was at the beginning of the movie, when her mother told her to stay close to the car, but she didn’t follow her mother’s order and walked away. Her second mission was to get the dagger. It may seem as an easy task to do, especially that the Faun has given her some tools to use. But Ofelia couldn’t resist on not eating the grape on the table. By her disobeys, Ofelia made her quest much harder and the monster was almost catching her while she was escaping. This won’t be the last time Ofelia don’t follow the Faun’s commands. In her third and last task, she was asked to steal her brother and kill him so his blood can be dropped into the pool. Once again, Ofelia refuse to do so and didn’t give her brother to the Faun. In this scene, we can see how Ofelia proves herself by standing up for herself, and also evolves throughout the movie. She was able to refuse and oppose a few times. However, this opposition did not do her good because, at the end, she was killed by her stepfather. This also proves that men were empowered over women and only cared about themselves because Ofelia was trying to protect her half-brother which is Vidal’s son, and at the end, Vidal killed her.

In the other hand, Carmen is seen as very weak and submissive woman. Clearly, she got married to Vidal to present a better life to her daughter and her, but this didn’t go as planned. We can see how Vidal, her husband, treats her very harshly. All she does is to obey to his commands, and we can see this in the scene where he orders her to set in the wheelchair. Vidal didn’t care at all about his wife’s health, his main concern was his son and how it has to be a boy. That why he got so upset when the doctor mentioned that it can be a girl. Also, Vidal was the reason Carmen was dead, when he found the mandrake, that Ofelia has placed under the bed of her mother. He got so unhappy and almost throw it away. 

Lastly, Mercedes. Mercedes was a very smart women in the movie. She was able to help her brother and his gang by providing them supplies without Vidal noticing. Her brother was part of the rebels, who were being fighting by Vidal, which makes her task much harder. In the begging of the movie, Mercedes give us the impression that she is just a submissive maid that help Vidal in the house. However, at the end we see her true power and how was able to show him her strength and intelligence. The scene when she was caught by Vidal, he was underestimating her and told his guard laughing ‘she is just a woman’. This portrays how Vidal demonizes women and shows how he thinks women are inferior beings. Also, it contradicted the gender role presented in this movie which is that women are weak and submissive. It contradicted it because, in this scene, it shows that women are actually strong, which is demonstrated by Mercedes, when she fought Vidal and was able to escape from him. 

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The Power Of Women In The Pan’s Labyrinth. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from
“The Power Of Women In The Pan’s Labyrinth.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
The Power Of Women In The Pan’s Labyrinth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 May 2022].
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