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Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty ("La Belle au Bois dormant" (The Beauty asleep in the wood) is a fairy tale classic, the first in the set published in 1697 by Charles Perrault, Contes de ma Mère l'Oye ("Tales of Mother Goose").

While Perrault's version is better known, an older variant, the tale Sun, Moon, and Talia, was contained in Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone (published 1634). Professor J. R. R. Tolkien noted that Perrault's cultural presence is so pervasive that, when asked to name a fairy tale, most people will cite one of the eight stories in Perrault's collection. Since Tolkien's generation, however, the most familiar Sleeping Beauty in the English speaking world has become the Walt Disney animated film (1959), which draws as much from the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ballet (Saint Petersburg, 1890) as from Perrault.

Perrault's narrative

The basic elements of Perrault's narrative are in two parts. Some folklorists believe that they were originally separate tales, as they became afterward in the Grimms' version, and were joined together by Basile, and Perrault following him.

Part one

At the christening of a long-wished-for princess, fairies invited as godmothers offered gifts, such as beauty, wit, and musical talent. However, a wicked fairy who had been overlooked placed the princess under an enchantment as her gift, saying that, on reaching adulthood, she would prick her finger on a spindle and die. A good fairy, though unable to completely reverse the spell, said that the princess would instead sleep for a hundred years, until awakened by the kiss of a prince.

The king forbade spinning on distaff or spindle, or the possession of one, upon pain of death, throughout the kingdom, but all in vain. When the princess was fifteen or sixteen she chanced to come upon an old woman in a tower of the castle, who was spinning. The Princess asked to try the unfamiliar task and the inevitable happened. The wicked fairy's curse was fulfilled. The good fairy returned and put everyone in the castle to sleep. A forest of briars sprang up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world: no one could try penetrate it without facing certain death in the thorns.

After a hundred years had passed, a prince who had heard the story of the enchantment braved the wood, which parted at his approach, and entered the castle. He trembled upon seeing the princess' beauty and fell on his knees before her. He kissed her, then she woke up, then everyone in the castle woke to continue where they had left off... and, in modern versions, starting with the Brothers Grimm version, they all lived happily ever after.

Part two

Secretly wed by the re-awakened Royal almoner, the Prince continued to visit the Princess, who bore him two children, L'Aurore (Dawn) and Le Jour (Day), which he kept secret from his mother, who was of an Ogre lineage. Once he had acceded to the throne, he brought his wife and the children to his capital, which he then left in the regency of the Queen Mother, while he went to make war on his neighbor the Emperor Contalabutte, ("Count of The Mount").

The Ogress Queen Mother sent the young Queen and the children to a house secluded in the woods, and directed her cook there to prepare the boy for her dinner, with a sauce Robert. The humane cook substituted a lamb, which satisfied the Queen Mother, who demanded the girl, but was satisfied with a young goat prepared in the same excellent sauce. When the Ogress demanded that he serve up the young Queen, the latter offered her throat to be slit, so that she might join the children she imagined were dead. There was a tearful secret reunion in the cook's little house, while the Queen Mother was satisfied with a hind prepared with sauce Robert. Soon she discovered the trick and prepared a tub in the courtyard filled with vipers and other noxious creatures. The King returned in the nick of time and the Ogress, being discovered, threw herself into the pit she had prepared and was consumed, and everyone else lived happily ever after.

Sources

Perrault transformed the tone of Basile's "Sole, Luna, e Talia". Basile's was an adult tale told by an aristocrat for aristocrats, emphasizing concerns such as marital fidelity and inheritance. Perrault's is an aristocratic tale told for a high-bourgeois audience, inculcating female patience and passivity.

Beside differences in tone, the most notable differences in the plot is that the sleep did not stem from a curse, but was prophesied; that the king did not wake Talia from the sleep with a kiss, but raped her, and when she gave birth to two children, one sucked on her finger, drawing out the piece of flax that had put her to sleep, which woke her; and that the woman who resented her and tried to eat her and her children was not the king's mother but his jealous wife. The mother-in-law's jealousy is less motivated, although common in fairy tales.

There are earlier elements that contributed to the tale, in the medieval courtly romance Perceforest (published in 1528), in which a princess named Zellandine falls in love with a man named Troylus. Her father sends him to perform tasks to prove himself worthy of her, and while he is gone, Zellandine falls into an enchanted sleep. Troylus finds her and gets her pregnant in her sleep; when their child is born, he draws from her finger the flax that caused her sleep. She realizes from the ring he left her that the father was Troylus; he returns after his adventures to marry her.

Earlier influences come from the story of the sleeping Brynhild in the Volsunga saga and the tribulations of saintly female martyrs in early Christian hagiography conventions. It was, in fact, the existence of Brynhild that persuaded the Brothers Grimm to include Briar Rose in latter editions of their work rather than eliminate it, as they did to other works they deemed to be purely French, stemming from Perrault's work.

Naming the princess

The princess's name has been unstable. In Sun, Moon, and Talia, she is named Talia ("Sun" and "Moon" being her twin children). Perrault removed this, leaving her anonymous, although naming her daughter "L'Aurore". The Brothers Grimm named her "Briar Rose." Tchaikovsky shifted the name of the daughter, in translation, to the mother: Aurora. This transfer was taken up by Disney in the film. John Stejean named her "Rosebud" in TeleStory Presents.

Variants

This fairy tale is classified as Aarne-Thompson type 410.

The Brothers Grimm included a variant, Briar Rose, in their collection (1812). It truncates the story as Perrault and Basile told it to the ending now generally known: the arrival of the prince concludes the tale. Some translations of the Grimm tale give the princess the name Rosamond. The brothers considered rejecting the story on the grounds that it was derived from Perrault's version, but the presence of the Brynhild tale convinced them to include it as an authentically German tale. Still, it is the only known German variant of the tale, and the influence of Perrault is almost certain.

The Brothers Grimm also included, in the first edition of their tales, a fragmentary fairy tale, The Evil Mother-in-Law. This began with the heroine married and the mother of two children, as in the second part of Perrault's tale, and her mother-in-law attempted to eat first the children and then the heroine. Unlike Perrault's version, the heroine herself suggested an animal be substituted in the dish, and the fragment ends with the heroine's worry that she can not keep her children from crying, and so from coming to the attention of the mother-in-law. Like many German tales showing French influence, it appeared in no subsequent edition.

Italo Calvino included a variant in Italian Folktales. The cause of her sleep is an ill-advised wish by her mother: she wouldn't care if her daughter died of pricking her finger at fifteen, if only she had a daughter. As in Pentamerone, she wakes after the prince raped her in her sleep, and her children are born and one sucks on her finger, pulling out the prick that had put her to sleep. He preserves that the woman who tries to kill the children is the king's mother, not his wife, but adds that she does not want to eat them herself but serves them to the king. His version came from Calabria, but he noted that all Italian versions closely followed Basile's.

Besides Sun, Moon, and Talia, Basile included another variant of this Aarne-Thompson type, The Young Slave. The Grimms also included a second, more distantly related one, The Glass Coffin.

Joseph Jacobs noted the figure of the Sleeping Beauty was in common between this tale and the Gypsy tale The King of England and his Three Sons, in his More English Fairy Tales.

The hostility of the king's mother to his new bride is repeated in the fairy tale The Six Swans, and also features The Twelve Wild Ducks, where she is modified to be the king's stepmother, but these tales omit the cannibalism.

Myth themes

The tale has been interpreted as a myth of natural phenomena, especially in light of the names given Sleeping Beauty's children: Sun and Moon, Dawn and Day, are easily interpreted as figurative characters.

Some folklorists have analyzed Sleeping Beauty as indicating the replacement of the lunar year (with its thirteen months, symbolically depicted by the full thirteen fairies) by the solar year (which has twelve, symbolically the invited fairies). This, however, founders on the issue that only in the Grimms' tale is the wicked fairy the thirteenth fairy; in Perrault's, she is the eighth.

Among familiar themes and elements in Perrault's tale:

  • the Wished-for Child
  • the Accursed Gift
  • the Inevitable Fate
  • the Spinner
  • the Heroic Quest
  • the Ogre Stepmother
  • the Salvation through a Redemptor. Slumber as metaphor for sleeping death as though by sin
  • the Substituted Victim

Modern retellings

Sleeping Beauty has been popular for many fairytale fantasy retellings. This include Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novel The Gates of Sleep; Robin McKinley's Spindle's End, Orson Scott Card's Enchantment, Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, Sophie Masson's Clementine, and Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.

The curse of the fairy godmother, by itself, has been taken from the tale and used in many contexts. George MacDonald used it in his Sleeping Beauty parody, The Light Princess, where the evil fairy godmother curses the princess not to death but to lack gravity -- leaving her both lacking in physical weight and unable to take other people's suffering seriously. In Andrew Lang's Prince Prigio, the queen, who does not believe in fairies, does not invite them; the fairies come anyway and give good gifts, except for the last one, who says that he shall be "too clever" -- and the problems with such a gift are only revealed later. In Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a princess laments that she wasn't cursed at her christening. When another character points out that many princesses aren't (even in the Chronicles' fairy-tale setting), she complains that in her case the wicked fairy did come to the christening, "had a wonderful time," and left the princess with no way to assume her proper, fairy-tale role.

Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber" provides a postmodern retelling of Sleeping Beauty entitled "The Lady of the House of Love". Although she deviates significantly from the original subject matter she keeps intact what she terms the 'latent content', for example though not actually asleep there are repeated references to the protagonist existing as a somnambulist . The story follows the life of a Transylvanian vampire condemned by her fate until a young soldier arrives who, through his innocence, frees her from her curse.

Waking Rose is a modern-day take on the story. The heroine, Rose (named after Briar Rose), is put into a coma; she has to be saved by her boyfriend from two doctors who want to euthanize her after she had previously discovered that they illegally killed people to sell their organs off the black market. It is not posted on the Surlalune website, although other books of the series are.

Sleeping Beauty in music

Michele Carafa composed La belle au bois dormant in 1825.

Before Tchaikovsky's version, several ballet productions were based on the "sleeping beauty" theme, amongst which one from Eugène Scribe: in the winter of 1828–1829, the French playwright furnished a four-act mimed scenario as a basis for Aumer's choreography of a four-act ballet-pantomime La Belle au bois dormant. Scribe wisely omitted the violence of the second part of Perrault's tale for the ballet, which was set by Hérold and first staged at the Académie Royale, Paris, April 27, 1829. Though Hérold popularized his piece with a piano Rondo brilliant based on themes from the music, he was not successful in getting the ballet staged again.

When Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the Director of the Imperial Theatres in Saint Petersburg, wrote to Tchaikovsky on May 25, 1888, suggesting a ballet based on Perrault's tale, he also cut the violent second half, climaxed the action with the Awakening Kiss, and followed with a conventional festive last act, a series of bravura variations.

Although Tchaikovsky was maybe not all that eager to compose a new ballet (remembering that the reception of his Swan Lake ballet music, staged eleven seasons earlier, had only been lukewarm), he set to work with Vsevolovsky's scenario. The ballet, with Tchaikovsky's music (his Opus 66) and choreography by Marius Petipa, was premiered in the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre on January 24, 1890.

Besides being Tchaikovsky's first major success in ballet composition, it set a new standard for what is now called "Classical Ballet", and remained one of the all time favourites in the whole of the ballet repertoire. Sleeping Beauty was the first ballet that impresario Sergei Diaghilev ever saw, he later recorded in his memoirs, and also the first that ballerinas Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova ever saw, and the ballet that introduced the Russian dancer Rudolph Nureyev to European audiences. Diaghilev staged the ballet himself in 1921 in London with the Ballets Russes. Choreographer George Balanchine made his stage debut as a gilded Cupid sitting on a gilded cage, in the last act divertissements.

Mimed and danced versions of the ballet survived in the distinctly British genre of pantomime, with Carabosse, the evil fairy, a famous travesti role.

Maurice Ravel's Ma Mère l'Oye includes a movement entitled Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant (Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood). This piece was also later developed into a ballet.

Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty

The Walt Disney Productions animated feature Sleeping Beauty was released on January 29, 1959 by Buena Vista Distribution. Disney spent nearly a decade working on the film, which was produced in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen 70 mm film process with a stereophonic soundtrack. Its musical score and songs are adapted from Tchaikovsky's ballet. This tale includes three good fairies - Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather - and one evil fairy, Maleficent. As in most Disney films, there are considerable changes made to the plot. For example; it is Maleficent herself that appears in the upper tower of the castle and creates the spinning wheel and spindle on which the princess, Aurora (called Briar Rose by Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather in the years prior to the event), pricks her finger.

The film cost six million US dollars (mainly due to the dragon sequence) to produce, and only returned a revenue of three million dollars, nearly bankrupting the Disney studio. The film later gained a following, and is today considered one of the best animated features ever made, due to its unique style and authentic look along with a beautiful story and lush music. A Platinum Edition of the film is due for release October 2008, though Disney has already launched the official website for the Sleeping Beauty Special Edition DVD

Uses of Sleeping Beauty

  • One of the fairy gifts is sometimes misremembered as Intelligence. No such gift was however offered in Perrault's version: not appropriate in 1697, when a good ear for playing music appeared more essential. More modern versions of the tale might include, apart from Intelligence, Courage and Independence as fairy gifts. This can be compared with the gifts Moll Flanders apparently possessed, in the book with the same name that appeared precisely a quarter of a century after Perrault's Sleeping Beauty (1722).
  • Freudian psychologists, encouraged by Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment, have found rich materials to analyze in Sleeping Beauty as a case history of latent female sexuality and a prescription for the passive socialization of those young women who were not destined for work.
  • Eric Berne uses this fairy tale to illustrate "Waiting for Rigor Mortis", a one of the life scripts . After pointing out that almost everything in this story can actually happen, he singles out the key illusion that script protagonist fails to recognize: that the time didn't stop while she was asleep, that in reality Rose won't be fifteen years old, but thirty, forty, or fifty. Berne uses this and other fairy tales as a convenient tool to puncture the script armor that captivates people.
  • Joan Gould's book Turning Straw into Gold reclaims the story for women's agency, arguing that Sleeping Beauty is an example of a woman's ability to "turn off" in times of crisis. She cites a version of the story where the princess awakes when the prince enters the room, because she knows it's time to wake up.
  • The Princess's sleeping attendants, waiting to accompany her when she wakes in the other world, even to the spit-boys in the kitchens and her pet dog, expresses one of the most ancient themes in ritual burial practices, though Perrault was probably unaware of the Egyptian burials, and certainly unaware of the royal tombs of Queen Puabi of the Third Dynasty of Ur, the courtiers that accompanied early emperors of China in the tomb, the horses that accompanied the noble riders in the kurgans of Scythian Pasyryk. The King and Queen are not included in this analogue of a burial, but retire, while the protective spectral thorn forest immediately grows up to protect the castle and its occupants, as effective as a tumulus.
  • Anne Rice's erotic novel, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, written under the name of A. N. Roquelaure, is loosely based on this fairy tale.
  • Sleeping Beauty appears as a character in the Fables comic book. She is one of the three ex-wives of Prince Charming, and is one of the wealthier Fables. She is still vulnerable to pricking herself, falling back into an enchanted slumber when this happens, along with all others in whatever building she is in.
  • The second half of Sleeping Beauty appears as one of the comics in Little Lit. The comic is written and drawn by famed comics author Daniel Clowes.
  • In 2002 the Dutch-speaking author Toon Tellegen published Brieven aan Doornroosje ("Letters to Sleeping Beauty"), leading, in 2005, to a year-long daily series of such letters, imagined to be written by the prince making his quest to Sleeping Beauty's castle, being presented at the Flemish classical radio station (Klara), every morning just before 7 h opening the day program.
  • In the book Sisters Grimm she is one of the people who actually do not despise Relda Grimm. She is shown as a very kind person and she has cocoa colored skin.
  • In Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales For Every Child, Sleeping Beauty's depicted as a Hispanic priness named Rosita. She was under the spell for a century
  • The Sleeping Beauty (Live in Israel) is a live album by Tiamat.
  • Angela Carter reinterpreted the tale for her collection of short stories The Bloody Chamber.
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan's "Glass Coffin" is a retelling of "Sleeping Beauty." It appears in her collection Tales of Pain and Wonder. The story's title is a reference to P. J. Harvey's song "Hardly Wait," which is itself also a reference to "Sleeping Beauty."
  • Sheri S. Tepper adapts the Sleeping Beauty story in her novel, Beauty. This novel also includes references to Cinderella and The Frog Prince.
  • Bruce Bennett adapted Sleeping Beauty into a Children's Musical with Lynne Warren, which made its world premiere at Riverwalk Theatre
  • Catherynne M. Valente adapted the story in The Maiden-Tree, in which she likens the spindle to a syringe.
  • The computer game Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne uses Sleeping Beauty as an allegory to the game's own ending when Max kisses a dead Mona Sax on the lips- accoriding to Max, "...all this time we got the story of Sleeping Beauty all wrong." He theorizes that the prince, much like Max himself, is not kissing Sleeping Beauty to wake her up, but rather to wake himself from the hope and pain that brought him there- Max states, "No one who's slept for a hundred years is likely to wake up." Though if one manages to beat the game on the hardest difficulty, Mona will wake up after the kiss, surviving in the alternate ending.
  • In philosophy, the Sleeping Beauty paradox is a thought-experiment where Beauty is given an amnesiac and put to sleep on Sunday night. A coin is flipped and if heads occurs, she will be awoken on Monday and then put back to sleep. if tails occurs, she is awoken on Monday and Tuesday. Whenever she awakes, she will be asked what her subjective probability is for the coin having landed heads. Everybody agrees that she will answer 1/2 before the experiment, but some argue that during the experiment she will answer 1/3. If that is the case then she is said to defy the Reflection Principle, commonly thought by Bayesians to be a constraint on rationality.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura's class performs Sleeping Beauty in the episode "Sakura and the Blacked Out School Arts Festival", with the characters chosen at random. Sakura gets the title of the Prince and Syaoran gets the title of Aurora, with Yamazaki earning the title of the witch in the manga. However, since Meilin took the role of the witch in the anime, Yamazaki became the queen which lead to Rika, who was the queen in the manga, to be one of the fairies instead of an unnamed boy.
  • In Kaori Yuki's manga, Ludwig Revolution, the queen was infertile and had Princess Friederike after a fish relayed a prophesy. Rather than meeting a servant, the princess pricked her finger when the witch told her that there had been no prophesy; instead the queen had been raped and she was not the king's daughter. Friederike touched the spindle as a way to test if the witch was telling the truth and slept for one hundred years. When Prince Ludwig meets her in his dreams, he falls in love with her and his kiss breaks the spell. They do not, however, live happily ever after, as she dies the moment she awakens.
  • In one chapter of Honey and Clover Morita threatens Ayumi that if she doesn't invite him to a Christmas party, he will curse her, that her future daughter, on her 15th birthday will prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep, weirding out her and Hagumi.
  • A segment of the 2005 Turkish anthology film Istanbul Tales made up of five stories inspired by popular fairy tales is based on this tale where an insane young woman is the Sleeping Beauty who lives in a Bosphorus mansion meets a young Kurdish man who has immigrated to Istanbul.
  • Mattel Entertainment's (Universal Studios) Barbie as The Sleeping Beauty will be launch on March 28,2009,features Barbie as the Princess Clarette,with music of Arnie Roth,based on Tchaikovsky's ballet,based on the story by The Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault.
  • This was spoofed on Hanna Barbera's The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo in 1985 Dreamworks LLC's Shrek the Third in 2007 and Disney's own House of Mouse in 2002.
  • This was also spoofed in the 1948 Popeye cartoon Wotta Knight with Olive Oyl as Sleeping Beauty.
  • In the 1988 Muppet Babies episode "Slipping Beauty," while Piggy catches a case of the chicken pox, the gang cheers her up by telling her their version of the story of Sleeping Beauty over the walkie-talkie. During Piggy's imagination of the story, she plays the princess, while Kermit is the prince; Fozzie, Rowlf, and Gonzo are the three good fairies; Animal is the bad fairy, and Scooter and Skeeter are the king and queen. During the narration, Fozzie alters the princess's sleeping curse by having the princess (Piggy) step on a banana peel (since little kids shouldn't play with sharp objects) and "fall asleep" before her fourth birthday. At the same time, the "nice little cottage" is really Buckingham Palace, and Piggy only goes away to throw away the giant harp Rowlf gave her.
  • In the "Sleeping Beauty" episode of Fractured Fairy Tales of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, the narrator quickly gets through the story from the princess's birth to the point where the prince arrives at the castle. From there, rather than kiss her, the prince opens up Sleeping Beauty Land (a parody of Disneyland). While business booms, he is constantly interrupted by the bad fairy and disposes of her in many ways. Finally, at the end of the episode, after business goes downhill with fewer attendants, the princess cheers up the prince and bad fairy by waking up without true love's first kiss.

See also

References

20. Barbie as the Sleeping Beauty-(2009)

External links

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