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Sleeping Beauties: An Evolution Essay

2106 words - 9 pages

We have often seen numerous folktales that appear to be similar among different cultures. Often at times, the characters or locations change to accommodate the surrounding culture, but the message or moral of the story stays the same. In the case of the story, Sleeping Beauty, we notice that the earlier versions of the story are more crude and “adult” and as time passed on, the story evolved to become more suitable for a younger audience. Sleeping Beauty became a story of “rape, adultery, sexual rivalry, and attempted cannibalism” (Hallett, 1) to the clean and innocent Disney version we know today. The three versions of Sleeping Beauty that I will compare are Sole, Luna, E Talia (Sun, Moon, And Talia) by Giambattista Basile, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault, and Brier Rose by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Sole, Luna, E Talia (Sun, Moon, And Talia) by Giambattista Basile tells the story of the princess, Talia who was cursed into a deep sleep, and raped by a King and awaken after giving birth to twins. This version is very shocking and repulsive because the King, impregnates the Sleeping Beauty character as she’s sleeping, and then leaves her. She awakens not at the kiss of the Prince, but at the birth of her twin children. The story also deals with the Queen (the King’s wife), whose jealous rage forced her to get revenge on her husband for cheating on her by making the cook kill the two children and serve them to the King to eat.
Taboo is a social and often sacred prohibition put upon certain things, people, or acts, which render them untouchable or unmentionable. (Goding, 214) In this version of Sleeping Beauty, there are many examples of taboo such as adultery, rape, and an attempt at cannibalism. These acts are forbidden in many cultures and the story aims to show the repercussions of such acts. Because the Queen was so full of jealousy, hate, and rage, she thought that by killing the children and Talia, the King would get what he deserved. However, she was discovered and the King pushed the Queen into a fire to punish her. The story ends with a crude moral “Lucky people, so tis said, Are blessed by fortune whilst in bed.” This suggests that it is fine for a man to have sexual intercourse with a woman while she is asleep and that she is deemed as ‘lucky’ or ‘blessed’ as a result.
The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault has a similar story line to Sole, Luna, E Talia (Sun, Moon, And Talia) by Giambattista Basile. The use of extreme violence can be seen in this version, which continues the story after the Prince and the Princess are united. As Perrault tells it, the happy couple get married and have two children. However, at the end of the story, the Prince never tells his family about the marriage. Soon the Prince becomes the King after his father dies and must leave for war. He finally tells his mother about the marriage and leaves his wife under her care. The Prince’s mother, who is described as an ogress dislikes...

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