When I decided to take part in a panel discussion about the role of fairy tales in the modern literature, little did I know that I would learn to allot during the convention. My fellow panelists were editors and authors whose fairy tale work had influenced the modern storytelling context. The title for discussion was, “what does sleeping beauty means in the modern context?”. The question meant that we needed to explore the relevance of the fairy tale within the modern world and make interpretation using sleeping beauty as the primary focus.
As we discussed, the other panelists presented several arguments about why the fairy tale of sleeping beauty continues to be popular even in modern times. We researched on the topic by digging into the archives to present an old version of the tale. During the presentation, the panelists discussed who the story was really about. During my research, I realized that sleeping beauty had much to offer in our discussion. During the discussion, we recounted some of the oldest and provocative versions of sleeping beauty.
Looking at the old version of this fairy tale, there were startling events presenting the journey of both lovers and their transformation process. Each of them experienced death as two sets of parents prepared to bury their children. Even though the Sultan’s son awakens the sleeping beauty, their relationship is not a mature one, but the society does not sanction it. When the sultan son revives the sleeping beauty from death, they are considered equal, and their marriage is one between adults. In our discussion, we noted that sleeping beauty had undergone several changes in the 29th century, when it was published by the Grimm brothers targeting children. The Grimm brothers maintained some of the darker images from the story, but the sexuality and the humor disappeared.
Victorian publishers tried to sanitize the fairy tale toning them down the violence, hence simplifying the narrative. During this period authors wanted readers to see the stories as charming by the reflection of gender roles during that time to present appropriate morality. Like other fairy tales, sleeping beauty used emotionally evocative images that were meant to engage the audience and to draw them to the morality behind the narrative. One panelist during the discussion reminded us that the underlying theme of the story is the power struggle between the young bride to be the older groom. The symbols of feminine power struggles are evident throughout the story, and everyone on the panel agreed that figures of evil fairy were presented like the old woman spinning, the barren wife and the ogres’ mother.
As we noted sleeping beauty in the 20th century has been presented not as a collective identity, but in several themes, the princess finds herself in many different guises. She is portrayed as a helpless stay at home girls of the 1950s, a bold heroine, an oppressed holocaust survivor, a sexually abused child, among other themes. As we came to the end of the discussion, we noted that sleeping beauty the main theme has diminished in many ways with more civilized version being presented.
In the end, we all agreed that sleeping beauty is a masterpiece, which present power. In our discussion, we all noted something very appealing about the figure. The princess is seemingly passive, but she is surrounded life threatening events including death. The older version of the story presents the beauty’s original wit and strength. Even though the many versions have tried to alter her nature, her transformation continues to shine making it a remarkable fairy tale.
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