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Saturday Smackdown: Fairy Tale Style

December 12, 2009

In honor of The Princess and the Frog today, our Saturday Smackdown features two classic princesses that have inspired generations of girls for more than half a century each. Arguably, since both are based on classic fairytales that are centuries older than their animated counterparts, their influence is considerable on classic and modern romantic literature.

Fairy Tales

The beauty of a fairy tale is the transcendence from everyday life to a magical place or time where happily ever after is not only possible, it is required. As a culture, we love fairy tales; we love the idea of the underdog triumphing, of true love’s first kiss and of love at first sight. We believe in men who will slay dragons to be with the one they love and of men who see beyond the shallow and innocuous to the true beauty that is within. You will find all of these qualities in our two superb fairy tale contenders. However, it is up to you to choose which one is the better.

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One Comment

  • Mary Anne Landers December 13, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Thank you for your post, Heather. I've never come across a fairy tale I didn't like, but I have my favorites. Alas, they don't include "Cinderella."

    Despite some points of interest, basically it's just a wish-fulfillment power fantasy. The put-upon heroine is vindicated, triumphs over those who made her miserable, and marries an heir apparent. It's the archetype for much mediocre or worse popular fiction.

    "Sleeping Beauty" is far more meaningful and profound, with fascinating mythic themes and subtext. Far from a power fantasy, it's about being without power.

    Princess Aurora must be the ultimate passive character. Events happen around her and other characters do things to her. But what does she do? In particular, for which actions is she best remembered?

    While under a spell, Aurora pricks her finger on the distaff of a spinning wheel. She sleeps for a long time. She is awakened by her true love's kiss. Aurora does nothing of her own volition.

    Her course of destiny isn't fair, and must make no sense to her. Yet she endures adversity to attain a happy, fulfilling new life.

    Her sleep is a metaphor for death or a death-like existence, the cruelest of fates. Yet she awakens from it; how? Through the power of love, embodied by Prince Phillip. Such a wonderful statement about what love can do.

    As for your question about magic, no, I don't believe in it. Today we have science and technology instead of magic and miracles. However, it's still a powerful and meaningful element of myths, fantasies, and fairy tales.