Friday, June 17, 2011

Fairy Tale Fridays - The True Bride

With June being the traditional month of weddings, I thought it was only appropriate that Fairy Tale Fridays make its return with tale about a bride and so I selected "The True Bride" from my Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales. As I was reading along, I was enjoying all of the similarities that this tale has with so many of the other tales: wicked stepmother; poor, down-trodden stepdaughter who is forced to work day and night; and even a fairy godmother (although she is not actually called a fairy godmother in this tale).

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.


  1. Fairy tale Friday is back. Yay!

  2. I also don't know why all fairy tales toe the line that a woman has to be married to be fulfilled and for the story to end. That really perpetuates a lot of things that people nowadays just don't believe, and it sort of annoys me. Why couldn't the princess just be content with all her jewels and dresses in the castle without a man? So annoying!

  3. I'm hoping to read a few fairy tales now that I'm on summer break!

  4. Hold the presses here. He tells her he has to talk to his daddy first? That's strike one. Then he says "be right back" and then doesn't return? Strike two. Then she buries ALL her riches and works on a farm until this prince of a fellow happens by, and despite his professed "true love" he DOESN'T RECOGNIZE HER? Dude. That sounds like strike three to me.

    He'd do well in 2011, gotta give him that.

  5. Since I believe that there are really only a handful of stories that all other stories are based on, the recycling of fairy stories that you noticed seems particularly apt.

    Great review--fun to read.

  6. Interesting! Never heard of this story before. I should re-read my fairy tales :)

  7. This is one tale that I have not yet read, but I think I need to!

    (Sorry for the late reply! My reader deleted a bunch of posts before I had a chance to read them, but I'm finally getting to!)