(6/20/00 12:49:49 pm)
|Locked up ladies...|
(I apologize if this is a scattered post- I emailed it to myself a while back when I tried to post it and the board crashed)
I was thinking about this earlier as I was writing down my latest list of story topics, and I noticed a small theme- tell me if I'm being unoriginal.
It started with Rapunzel and the Lady of Shallot- both imprisoned in towers for reasons they know nothing about, both are cursed (in a way)once they leave their protected homes, both make it back to their loves in the end, one way or another.
Then I started wondering if there were other tales of ladies in towers or locked up in one way or another. The only ones I could think of were Sleeping Beauty (sleeping in a tower covered with briars for 100 years) and Snow White (kept in a casket). Can anyone think of any others? Perhaps the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe (Rapunzel many years later, many children
later, can't get away from the tower life?)
(6/20/00 1:10:35 pm)
|Re: Locked up ladies...|
I'm thinking.... but when you listed your ladies I couldn't help but notice that they are locked up in phallic symbols. Interesting isn't it....the tower, a casket and, of course my favorite, the shoe. Interesting theme. Also being silenced can occur in many guises. Perhaps this is something to think upon -- the isolation, the loss of voice. This occurs in other tales I can think of such as Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and the Six Swans. Also, how about "The Yellow Wallpaper?" I'm still exploring the idea of being silenced in my own work and I'm left wondering if a time will come when women can howl at the moon, scream at the stars and be admired for it.
(6/20/00 1:17:23 pm)
|Locked up ladies...|
Hmmm- I didn't think of that. I'll have to remember that when I write. What is "The Yellow Wallpaper" about? I've never heard of it. When you speak of Cinderella, are you refering only to her isolation or a loss of voice? I have thought it'd be an interesting twist on Cinderella in that arena, but too many ideas swamp me!
(6/20/00 1:20:49 pm)
I'm sure there are plenty of others, but there's one that naturally occurs to me:
Danae, the mother of Perseus (slayer of Medusa, of course). She was imprisoned by Acrisius, king of Argos after the oracle predicted that the grandson of Acrisius would kill him. Acrisius shut her up in a chamber of bronze underground. In this way, Acrisius hoped to defeat Fate.
It never works, of course, and Zeus came to Danae in the form of a shower of gold, and she conceived Perseus. (Other versions of the myth suggest that Proetus, brother of Acrisius and his rival for the throne of Argos, impregnated Danae. But the shower f gold is the form that gtets into the vase paintings.) After Acrisius learned of the birth, he had Danae shut up AGAIN in a chest with Perseus and cast into the Bay of Argos. The two didn't de, of course, but were washed u on the shore of the isle of Seriphos.
Interesting point -- the constellation Perseus is the apparent origin of the Perseid meteorite shower, arguably the most impressive in the sky. More than one person has suggested that the Perseids are the origin of the "shower of gold". A.B. Cook, one of the great mythologists, pointed out that the chest in which Danae and Perseus are shut up is invariably shown with stars on it, which might also hint at this connection.
(6/20/00 1:53:05 pm)
|Re: Locked-up Ladies|
Ohhh...more elongated traps. What a kick! As to "The Yellow Wallpaper" it has to be one of my favorite short stories. I love the tone and pacing and actually modeled my Rapunzel retelling "The Princess and the Man on the Moon" after it. The story deals with a woman being locked up for her "own good." She is hysterical after all -- you see her husband is a doctor and it's set in the early 1900s. She ends up tearing at the ghastly wallpaper in the room to free a woman she sees trapped behind the barred pattern -- leaving one to wonder if she is freeing herself, all women or just going completely mad. It's a lovely piece of fiction and I highly recommend it. Oh goodness -- forgive me if I mis-spell the author's name -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman or Gillman. Can anybody out there help me out here? Also the Cinderella story is about isolation but even though she can speak she can't "really" speak out. I think it all ties together. Have you read "Women's Ways of Knowing?" There are some interesting essays on women's development of voice and self. Perhaps it would help with your studies.
It opens with this quote --
"If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence." -- George Eliot
So are women hearing the roar? Or are we searching for the path leading to the other side of silence?
(6/20/00 3:08:52 pm)
oooh, my debut appearance on the
It's Charlotte Perkins Gilman (one ell) and "The Yellow Wallpaper" is indeed a wonderful piece of writing- I kinda associate it with Poe- tension that wants to scream but can't. There's an excellent collection of short stories by fin de siecle women writers (including "The Yellow Wallpaper"). It's edited by Elaine Showalter and I think it's called "Daughters of Decadence"- my memory is wiltered but I'm fairly sure that's right.
Carrie, some of the things you say remind me of Helene Cixous' essay "The Laugh of the Medusa"- which is also an extraordinary piece of writing. I'm curious as to what Stephen thinks of Cixous' appropriation of the figure of Medusa...
(6/21/00 5:49:52 am)
|Reply to Karen|
Darn, darn, darn!
To tell the truth, I don't think I explicitly mention Cixous in my book. She uses Medusa as a symbol, rather than giving me something to sink my teeth into. So, although you'll find Emily Erwin Culpepper and Mary Daly and Devane in there, Cixous isn't. Sorry.
There's another big reason -- I'm not even sure where I'd begin in talking about Cixous. Her title evokes Medusa, but she doesn't really use her extensively. Cixous' essay on language depends upon Deconstructionism and Freud -- and I don't agree with either philosophy. There's just no common round there.
(There's quite a bit on Cixous on the web. A very good site is the "Laugh of the Medusa" Resource Page at www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/english/English295/albright/main1.htm )
As for her "appropriating" the image of the Medusa, I applaud it, even if I disagree with the basis for using it. Especially in th last 100 years, women have moved to make Medusa their own, and she is now a powerful symbol for female Rage and female Creativity. I have about half a dozen books and magazines with Medusa on the cover and bearing titles like "Women's Rage". I also note that most of the fiction and especially the poetry about Medusa has been written by women. The only major fantasy stories about Gorgons I know of were written by Tanith Lee and Catherine L. Moore. I devote a large part of my penultimate chapter to this phenomenon, which has gone widely unreported in the mainstream press.
(6/21/00 12:53:48 pm)
|Maidens in Towers|
I've just recalled another possible case. I'm reading Boccaccio's "Decameron", and the seventh tale of the eighth day is about a woman forced to spend a hot July day nalked atop a tower as revenge for keeping a man out in the snow for a night.
(6/21/00 6:01:14 pm)
|Re: Locked up ladies...|
Locked up ladies made me think of Saint Barbara. I wandered into a cool book on saints when I was in art school desperately searching for ideas for illustrations...having forgotten everything except for the rather fuzzy recollection that there was a female martyred saint who got locked in a tower, I looked for info on the net. I found a rather bland description about what happened and paraphrased from there... So, the story goes like this: She was the daughter of a pagan father who couldn't deal with his daughter's choice in gods. He locked her up in a tower with solid walls and when she asked for 3 windows to represent the Christian triumvirate and said that they are really who we should all be worshipping, her dad got pissed and tried to kill her. She was saved from this by a miraculous intervention by God that was brought on by some lightning fast praying. Time passed (presumably locked up in the tower). She was then later tried in a pagan court and when pressed to recant her belief in Christ she got martyred by her father. Dad was killed by fire from heaven on his way home from the beheading.
Well, anyway, thought I'd add that bit to the list. If anyone has any good details re: her story I'd love to hear them.
(6/22/00 11:50:59 pm)
A favorite "locked up lady" tale of mine is the bird-king variant that goes by many names: King Crispin, King Falcon, etc.. In these tales, a girl is locked in a tower for a variety of reasons (a jealous stepmother, jealous sisters, etc.) and her lover comes to visit her in the form of a bird. The stepmother/sisters/etc. get wind of this, and hang knives and razors around the window. Her lover is sorely wounded, disappears, and the rest of the tale involves leaving the tower and going on long search for him. I heard a ballad version of this many years ago (The Gay Goshawk) that I've been thinking of retelling for Charlie Vess's "Ballad" series of comic books....but it's not listed in Child's classic volumes of English and Scottish Popular Ballads. So if anyone has any further information on this ballad or this motif, I'd be much obliged.
(6/24/00 8:17:12 am)
|Re: a link|
This was after going through Yahoo, to tam-lin org and then legends and then a link through that - I hope it helps!
(6/24/00 8:20:04 am)
|Re: Oops - sorry |
This too www.csufresno.edu/folklore/ballads/
There's a search engine for folklore ballads in general but I'm not very technical so you may need to copy and paste into the www address part
(6/24/00 8:23:17 am)
|Sorry again ...|
It still does not work but hopefully this will:
I apologise profusely for my lack of ignorance!
(6/24/00 9:02:33 am)
I was thinking of the odd situation where women isolate themselves on promontories. There is a tale (the title is not coming to me damn it, but I think its Russian). of the Princess who is sitting on top of a sheer glass mountain. Everyday various knights try to run their horses up the mountain to get her but they fail. As I recall, she's not too unhappy about this--of course the right guy, with the right sort of armor (blazing fire) shows up and manages the climb.
Then, there is a fabulous Zulu narrative about the chief's daughter who is really a rather stuck up and unpleasant child. After she makes unreasonable demands before she will emerge from her ritual purification hut (one form of socially enforced enclosure) nature steps in in the form of a moving mountain, and swallows her up and takes her away (another form of enclosure). The mountain spits her out on the Veld where she is adopted by the cannibals. They feed and feed and feed her until she is so fat and rolly polly she can barely move (enclosure in her body).
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is one of my favorite stories and it's a phrase I often envoke in the middle of winter when I just take being inside with everybody breathing down my neck! "yellow wallpaper time" I mutter and everyone scatters out of my way, lest I start verbally shredding them!
(6/24/00 9:11:04 pm)
|Re: Locked up ladies...|
One story that comes to my mind is a Grimms Fairy Tale called "Maid Maleen". Briefly, she's in love with, and planning to marry a certain prince, until her father (for variously kingly reasons that never come clear) decides she's to marry a different prince. She refuses, and he locks her in a tower for seven years along with a maid and enough food for the stay. They figure seven years have passed when they run out of food, and nobody appears to let them out. So, they take their one knife and break out themselves. (I love that it doesn't occur to either one of them to just sit around and wait for prince charming). In the meantime, of course, the original prince has become betrohed again. His new bride, however, has rather low self-esteem and feels she is too ugly to be seen in public. So when Maid Maleen and her servant wander into town, the new bride pays her to get married to the prince(who apparently hasn't seen her yet either) and then do the processional through town. Anyway, long story short, things are eventually all straightened out, Maleen marries her true love, and the ugly bride is beheaded (I always thought this was rather harsh, even for the usual amount of gore going on in Grimms). So, back to my point - which rather wandered away during the story - two chicks are locked in a tower by a man, and then free *themselves*, with the usual happy ending afterwards.