Rape and Incest and Ogres, Oh My!

SleepingBeauty

image source: http://www.swide.com

Alright, here’s a long one for you lovely thinkers to contemplate over the weekend and I know it’s like beating a dead horse, but I can’t help myself!  With a show of hands, how many of you know the true origins of your favorite fairytale?  I’m just kidding, I can’t really see your hands. You can put them down now.  Nothing about the title of today’s post is a laughing matter, by any means, but did you know that they play a major role in your favorite princess’s tale?

Warning: We’re about to enter geek-mode, strap in and grab your fanny survival packs.

The Grimm… er, grim…fact is that our beloved Deutschland brothers took quite a bit of creative license when they set out to ‘collect’ the oral legends.  Maybe some of you already know this, and that’s great! That means you might have a select fable of your own that gave you a moment’s pause upon reading the original version, right?  I know, I do!

Dornröschen or Little Brier-Rose was hardly the first version of the Sleeping Beauty tale.  In fact, it wasn’t even the only Sleeping Beauty themed story the Grimm’s ever told.  There was another one tilted The Glass Coffin, where a cursed princess is freed by a tailor, and then they set out to release her entire kingdom from enchantment – only the antagonist is a traveling male magician and not a malevolent fairy.  When Disney got a hold of this story, he pawned the glass coffin off onto Snow White.  Poor girl, she can never catch a break.

Has anyone ever heard of Charles Perrault?  Please, don’t raise your hand.  In 1697, two-hundred years before the Brothers Grimm published their book, Monsieur Perrault published his own collection, which included The Sleeping Beauty or The Sleeping Beauty in The Wood… only, you know, in French.  The stories didn’t differ that much, except that in this earlier version, the prince never got the chance to kiss his princess, before she just woke up.

Actually, there isn’t a single Sleeping Beauty story, where “True Love’s Kiss” exists at all.  Grimm and Perrault’s version simply places the prince in the right place at the right time – the exact moment the 100 year sleeping curse is over.  Talk about falling for a guy for his promptness!  The Magic of Love was definitely a Disney gimmick and it worked like a charm… yeah, I could totally play on these words all day, but I won’t, because…

SleepingBeauty2

image source: the-dark-side-of-fairytales.tumblr.com

You’re still wondering what any of this has to do with rape, incest and ogres?  I’ll tell ya.  Before Monsieur Perrault, there was an even earlier version of Sleeping Beauty written by a guy named Giambattista Basile (^5 to anyone who can pronounce it) titled Sun, Moon and Talia, ca. 1634 and according to Wikipedia, there’s a Sleeping Beauty theme in a part of the Perceforest (a collection of romantic prose spanning six volumes published between 1330-1344), where the “prince” rapes the princess in question while she’s still sleeping.  Call it ‘unconscious intercourse’ all you want, dude, it’s rape.

In Mr. Basile’s version, Talia doesn’t wake up, but gives birth to twins (sun & moon) who upon searching for nourishment, sucks the poisoned flax from mom’s finger, thus waking her.  It has nothing to do with love or a 100 year deadline.  In fact, though Mr. I’m Too Sexy For Conscious Sex is so taken by the sleeping beauty, he forgets all about her when he returns to his kingdom, marries someone else, and then ‘suddenly’ remembers her and begins having an extramarital affair with her behind his wife’s back – who…drum roll, please…happens to come from a line of Ogres.

The ogre theme was carried over in Perrault’s version, only the woman in question was the Prince’s mother, instead.  Both she-ogre’s attempt to have the princess and her child(ren) murdered and fixed as dinner she then happily feeds to her cheating/secretive husband/son… ugh, you get the point: Ogres bad!

Poor Brier-Rose/Talia/Dawn whatever the hell her name is, isn’t the only unfortunate princess.  There are countless “Cinderella” stories that covers the highly taboo subjects of incest and domestic violence, where the princess was lusted after by her own father and then upon meeting the ‘prince’ while disguised as a servant, is repeatedly abused until he discovers that she’s the mysterious princess that he’s been dancing with at the ball.  Nice guy.  Yeah, I’d totally pick him over everyone else.

In conclusion, there isn’t a single one of our beloved fairytales that began as the enchanting, romantic story we grew up reading/watching thanks to Mr. Disney.  About the only one he copied nearly to a T was Belle et la Bête (Beauty and The Beast) written by Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756, yet the Grimm Brother’s didn’t base their tale from this version at all.  Go figure.

p.s. I could get really geeky on you, and go all of the way back to the Old Norse Sagas to point out the similarities between Sleeping Beauty and Brunhilde… but I’ll be nice and save that for another day. 🙂

Friendly challenge: Find an older/original version of your favorite fairytale and write a post about the differences between it and what you’ve always thought it to be.  Which version do you prefer? Which parts are better than others?  Which parts shocked you the most? Make sure to leave a pingback in the comments below for your post, I’d love to read it!  Have a great weekend everyone!

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