Every so often, I find an article or image that depicts the origins of a beloved fairytale that shows how the actual tale has been drastically adapted to be suitable for humans.
I decided to retell some of them. Let’s have our childhood defaced together.
From my understanding back in the day when all was good and green, Sleeping Beauty told the tale of a princess who was cursed on the day of her birth to prick her finger on a spinning wheel when she was 18, and then die. Another fairy said she couldn’t remove it but adjusted the curses to say that the princess would just fall asleep once she pricked her finger. King got rid of all the needles, she pricked herself anyway, fell asleep, got sent to the highest room of the tallest tower, guarded by an evil dragon. Prince rescues her, she wakes up, happy days.
The Perrault version of Sleeping Beauty originates from Basile’s “Sola, luna, e Talia”, which is a tale that is a little more grim and uses a completely different tone in it’s telling. In Basile’s version, the sleep was brought upon by a piece of flax, and was actually prophesied, not cursed upon. The main difference is that the king didn’t wake Talia with a kiss. Get this, he raped her whilst she was asleep. Whilst still sleeping, she also gave birth to two children, which I find odd. Apparently, one of the children mistook her finger for a nipple and suckled on it, thus removing the flax splinter and waking her up.
Apparently the woman who attempted to eat the princess and her children was actually the King’s wife, not his mother.
Another earlier retelling (we’re talking 1528) in a text called Perceforest, the princess is raped in her sleep and gives birth to one kid. The prince then removes the flax and marries her. Medieval rohypnol.
The Snow White I’m familiar with is the version where the Queen has a mirror that tells her she’s beautiful. One day the mirror says Snow White looks better and the Queen decides to hire an assassin to kill her. The assassin can’t bring himself to do it because Snow White is such a stunner, so he lets her go and tells her to run into the woods and hide. She goes, makes friends with dwarves and has a merry old time. Meanwhile, assassin tells the Queen that he killed her, but the mirror still says that Snow White is the fairest of them all, implying that she’s still alive. So the Queen puts on some makeup, makes some poisoned apples, finds Snow White and poisons her to sleep. Standard procedure. Prince find Snow White and kisses her, and she wakes up. Queen dies somehow. I think the dwarves had something to do with it.
The first Grimm’s version has the Queen as Snow White’s mother. The queen eats the lung and liver of her daughter (not really hers, I think the hunter in charge of presenting the organs actually decided to get them off a bear). As the daughter is alive and well, lung and liver still in her possession, the Queen tries to strangle Snow White with some lace, which again doesn’t work for some reason. The main point of this story is that she ends up dying from a poisoned apple, and prince finds her body in the forest and insists on being with her for the rest of his life. Apparently, he won’t go anywhere without her, even eating his meals with her corpse next to him. Story goes that his servants get so annoyed with carrying her around that one of them picks her up and beats her. This trauma dislodges the apple which brings her to life. The Queen is consequently forced to wear red hot iron shoes and dance in agony until she dies.
Little Red Riding Hood
The version I heard as a kid was basically a little girl in a hood who walks through the woods to deliver food to her sick grandmother. A wolf wants to eat her, but is too shy to publicly do so. Instead, he waits in the forest, finds out where she is going, and eats her grandmother. He then poses as her grandmother and eats her too. He then falls asleep and a lumberjack gives him a C-Section with his axe, from which Little Red Riding Hood and Grandmother emerge unharmed. They fill the wolf (alive AND still cut open) with rocks so that when he tries to run away, he can’t, and he dies.
The girls grandmother is eaten and disemboweled before the girl arrives. In an Austrian version I found a synopsis of, the grandmothers entrails are used to latch the door and her teeth, jaws and blood are stored in a cupboard. When the girl arrives, she’s pretty hungry, so the wolf masquerading as the girls grandmother directs the girl to eat the grandmothers teeth and jaw, and drink her blood. These are portrayed as rice, chops and wine. After eating her nutritious grandmother, she is invited to strip her clothes off and join the wolf in bed, after which she is eaten.
Is it bad that even though these new stories are so gory and twisted, I can accept them? I think it’s because these details put a very mature spin on stories I grew up with and loved, and I’m mature aged now.
Anyway, hope you all enjoyed this morsel of information as much as I did!