Friday, February 11, 2011

Sleeping Beauty revisited

©Warwick Goble, Sleeping Beauty

Thanks to Marie for bringing this article to my attention - from the Paris Review, a very timely (given our topic and chat on Monday) article about revisiting Sleeping Beauty - the fairy tale, the Disney picture book - and the various issues it raises, vis-a-vis feminist analysis, regressive politics of contemporary versions, transgressive readings/interpretations of the story, and some pretty clever comments overall. Here's the link to the original, and a short excerpt:

Sleeping Beauty is often cited these days as the ultimate antifeminist tale: a princess waits a hundred years for prince to rescue her, and then marries him in helpless gratitude. This is partly because of the Disney version (1959), which tries to recast the tale as a celebration of romance and marriage. Here the fairy says nothing about a hundred years; it is romantic love, not time, that will defeat the spell:
Not in death, but just in sleep
The fateful promise you will keep
And from this slumber you shall wake
When true love’s kiss the spell shall break.
The word love did not appear in the Grimms’ tale. Though the overt lust of earlier versions was removed, what remained was still unmistakeably erotic. To ensure their story is entirely hormone-free, however, Disney established love at the beginning: the two are sweethearts before Beauty ever pricks her finger. She thus cannot sleep for a hundred years, so the whole point is a little lost. She goes to sleep, and then he wakes her up.

The article has also given me an idea, though I'll have to think on it a bit more - if Sleeping Beauty is the ultimate anti-feminist tale, in part due to her profound and extended state of passivity (asleep - dead - passive), does this change the way we think about the Princess and the Pea: who in refusing to sleep in a sense refuses to be passive?? Not sure about this one - just a thought!

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