I was surprised to find out that the fairy tale I grew up with does have another chapter that was totally new to me.
The earliest known versions of Sleeping Beauty are found in the 14th century in the long Arthurian book Perceforest. I grew up with the Grimm´s version which is based on Perrault 1628-1703 and is the most popular today.
(Charles Perrault was one oft he first Europeans to put together popular fairy tales and he inspired many for example the Grimm brothers who lived in the middle of the 19th century. )
The story of Sleeping Beauty I am familiar with
At the christening of a king and queen’s long-wished-for child, seven good fairies are invited to be godmothers to the infant Princess. The fairies attend the banquet at the palace. Each fairy is presented with a golden plate and drinking cups adorned with jewels. Soon after, an old fairy enters the palace and is seated with a plate of fine china and a crystal drinking glass. This old fairy was overlooked because she has been within a tower for many years and everyone had believed her to be deceased. Six of the other seven fairies offer their gifts of beauty, wit, grace, dance, song, and goodness to the infant princess. The old fairy is very angry about having been forgotten, and as her gift, enchants the infant Princess so that she will one day prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The seventh fairy, who hasn’t yet given her gift, attempts to reverse the evil fairy’s curse. However, she can only do so partially. Instead of dying, the Princess will fall into a deep sleep for 100 years and be awakened by a kiss from a king’s son.
The King orders every spindle and spinning wheel in the kingdom to be destroyed, to try to save his daughter from the terrible curse. Fifteen or sixteen years pass and one day, when the king and queen are away, the Princess wanders through the palace rooms and comes upon an old woman, spinning with her spindle. The princess, who has never seen anyone spin before, asks the old woman if she can try the spinning wheel. The curse is fulfilled as the princess pricks her finger on the spindle and instantly falls into a deep sleep. The king has the Princess carried to the finest room in the palace and placed upon a bed of gold and silver embroidered fabric. The king and queen kiss their daughter goodbye and depart, proclaiming the entrance to be forbidden. The good fairy who altered the evil prophecy is summoned. Having great powers of foresight, the fairy sees that the Princess will awaken to distress when she finds herself alone, so the fairy puts everyone in the castle to sleep. The fairy also summons a forest of trees, brambles and thorns that spring up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world.
A hundred years pass and a Prince finds the hidden castle during a hunting expedition. An old man recounts the story: Within the castle lies a beautiful Princess who is doomed to sleep for a hundred years until a king’s son comes and awakens her. The prince then braves the brambles and thorns and enters the castle. He passes the sleeping castle folk and reaches the chamber where the Princess lies asleep on the bed. Struck by the radiant beauty before him, he falls on his knees before her. The enchantment comes to an end by a kiss and the princess awakens and converses with the prince for a long time. Meanwhile, the rest of the castle awakens and go about their business. The Prince and Princess are married by the chaplain.
Disney and all other popular narratives end with this scene.
The part of Sleeping Beauty that was new to me
After the secret wedding the Princess bears two children, Aurore (Dawn) and Jour (Day), unbeknown to his mother, who is of an ogre lineage. When the time comes for the Prince to ascend the throne, he brings his wife and children.
The Ogress Queen Mother sends the young Queen and the children to a house secluded in the woods and directs her cook to prepare the boy for dinner. The kind-hearted cook substitutes a lamb for the boy, which satisfies the Queen Mother. She then demands the girl and the cook this time substitutes a young goat, which also satisfies the Queen Mother. When the Ogress demands that he serve up the young Queen, the latter offers to slit her throat so that she may join the children that she imagines are dead. While the Queen Mother is satisfied with a hind in place of the young Queen, there is a tearful secret reunion of the Queen and her children. However, the Queen Mother soon discovers the cook’s trick and she prepares a tub in the courtyard filled with vipers and other noxious creatures. The King returns and the Ogress, her true nature having been exposed, throws herself into the tub and is fully consumed. The King, young Queen, and children then live happily ever after.
There are many modern adaptions of the Grimm story: movies, ballets and operas:
- The Sleeping Beauty (1890), a ballet by Tchaikovsky.
- Dornröschen (1902), an opera by Engelbert Humperdinck.
Here are two contemporary examples:
1. The animated movies featuring Shrek by Dreamworks are very funny: They play with appearances of the protagonists of this Sleeping Beauty story. An ogre rescues Princess Fiona who turns out to be an ogre herself.
2. The book Reckless The Petrified Flesh
is the first of a three-piece-series called Mirrorworld by Cornelia Funke. She is a multiple award-winning German illustrator and storyteller, who writes fantasy.
Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a mirror that is a portal in his father’s abandoned study.
In these books Funke mixes up all kinds of fairy tales. People go on quests and discover treasure. What intrigued me was that the protagonist discovered a Sleeping Beauty who had died sleeping in her castle. Nobody had managed to save her in time. She had lain in her perpetual sleep for hundreds of years while hundreds of potential saviours were killed. Perhaps the good fairy´s magic was sloppy?
Behind the Scenes information on Sleeping Beauty
Discovering the last part of Sleeping Beauty I now understand why this fairy tale is popular in the Fairy Tale Dimension. The sleeping part is boring because it only offers little adventure. The fairies can bring some variety with all kinds of wishes: flying, dancing, magic. The really interesting play starts with the evil mother-in-law trying to eat her son´s family.
Death is not final in the Fairy Tale Dimension
To end your stay in the Fairy Tale Dimension you have to engage the Grim Reaper to escort you out. Inside of the dimension you can die as many times as you want only to reappear in an instant.
This explains why you will find people getting cooked in pots all the time reappearing instantly. You can picture this like wild hot tub parties. Giants even host big cooking events in swimming pool-sized pots.
In the Fairy Tale Dimension you can also jump a hundred times off a steep cliff and be smashed to bits and just stand up the next moment all healthy and restored ready for another round.
There is no pain
I have been cooked myself plenty of times while visiting the Fairy Tale Dimension with friends in dreams and we laughed our heads off while in the pots. We did not feel any pain. In our reality being cooked is cruel. In their reality it is not. This is why fairy tales often seem so cruel to us.
This makes people in the Fairy Tale Dimension very flexible. Something that we can profit from when we visit. There are not many rules scientific or otherwise and the use of magic enables even a bigger variety of outcomes of any fairy tale.
In Sleeping Beauty sometimes the evil stepmother gets to eat her prey and sometimes she is cooked herself.
The part of the evil stepmothers is a very popular character.
Wolves from Little Red Riding Hood like to play it as well as other animals, monsters, humans or trees.
Sleeping beauty is not always an innocent naïve creature.
I especially enjoy the Ninja version of Sleeping Beauty. She is a martial arts expert and enjoys fighting very much. The prince has to be her equal in battle to be accepted as a partner. Imagine the princess being woken up and doing Taekwondo moves! She can definitely take care of herself. This makes her a great adversary for her mother in law, too.
Can play a very important role in the story and many young ones like to take part in the play rescuing their parents or plotting with their evil grandmother. There is an endless possibility of outcomes.
Were you aware of the evil mother-in-law ending of Sleeping Beauty and how do you like this end?
Surla lune fairy tale blog has a very comprehensive list of books, which feature Sleeping Beauty. So many people tap into this fairy tale, it is amazing.
Images by Gypsy Thornton from Onceuponablog Sleeping Beauty Pinterest Board
Pictures: Open source by Wikipedia
© Inge Schumacher