Friday, June 17, 2011
About half way through this tale, though, the story switched gears. The fairy godmother had seen to it the the wicked stepmother met her demise and that our heroine had been left to thrive in a magnificent castle filled with everything she would need. This is where most fairy tales would end. It is a happily-ever-after ending after all. But this tale launches right into its next incarnation wherein our heroine must find herself a husband. Because, of course, she certainly can't really be happy until she has one, right? There are no end of suitors wooing our young lady but none of them strikes her fancy until a handsome prince comes along. It had to be a handsome prince, didn't it? When our girl promises herself to the prince, he tells her to wait for him under a lime tree and he'll be back shortly after he speaks to his father. When he doesn't return, the girl goes in search of him. Having no luck, she finally buries the fine gowns and jewels she has brought along on her journey and hires herself on as a farm hand. You heard me right, a farm hand. Has a castle she got as a reward after being forced to work so hard for so long that she doesn't return to, opting instead to work hard all day. I don't get it either.
One day, who should ride by but that same prince who does not even recognize the young lady he so recently wanted to marry. The next day he rides by again. Finally the girl decides to dig up her jewels and gowns and go to the castle. Now here is where I started to think to myself "didn't I already read this story?" The first night the girl showed up in a dress with golden suns, the next night a dress with silver moons and the third night a stardress. Well, of course, the prince finally remembered the girl and off they went to her castle to be married. Thanks heavens because everyone knows you have to be married to be happy.
Now, where had I heard this story before? Oh yes, on April 1st Fairy Tale Fridays featured the tale of The Princess in Disguise, a tale where a young woman uses three gowns, one the color of the sun, one the color of the moonlight and one with the twinkle of the stars. It seems that as the tales got told from place to place, different storytellers must have adapted the tales, choosing the parts that they liked from one tale and weaving it into another. I had never heard the story of The True Bride before, but Jim Henson had heard of it and liked it well enough to include it in his mini-series The Storytellers which ran on HBO in the late 1980's. In Henson's version, our heroine has a name (Anja) and rather than a wicked stepmother, she suffers under a troll. The prince is originally a gardener and instead of a series of gowns, Anja must use her jewels and wealth to convince the troll's daughter to let her spend time with the prince who is under sleeping spell. A reverse Sleeping Beauty, if you will. I would love to see if I can find a copy of this entire series! For the version of the tale that Henson must have used, check out the full story, troll and all.
Up next week, more wedding stories including The Heavenly Wedding.