Home Link: SurLaLune Fairy Tales Logo
Home Link: SurLaLune Fairy Tales Logo Introduction | Annotated Tales | eBooks | Bookstore | Illustration Gallery | Discussion Board | Blog
Annotations for Sleeping Beauty
 

Best of the Web

Sleeping Beauty
by Midori Snyder

Sleeping Beauty Stories collected
by D. L. Ashliman



 

 

The annotations for the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale are below. Sources have been cited in parenthetical references, but I have not linked them directly to their full citations which appear on the Sleeping Beauty Bibliography page. I have provided links back to the Annotated Sleeping Beauty to facilitate referencing between the notes and the tale.


1.  No children:  This is a sympathetic plight for many couples and extremely disturbing for a royal family in which national peace and the royal lineage is insured by the birth of progeny.
Return to place in story.


2.  Christening:  Most versions of the tale do not mention a christening specifically, but only a celebration in honor of the baby's birth. A christening is "the religious ceremony of baptizing and naming a child, and the social festivities which normally follow" (Websters 1990).
Return to place in story.


3.  Godmothers:  The godmothers have been fairies, witches, and goddesses in the numerous variations of the story. In some Christian religions, a godmother is a "woman who sponsors a child at baptism and assumes responsibility for the child's religious guidance up to confirmation" (Websters 1990). In a more general sense, a godmother takes responsibility for caring for a child physically, emotionally and mentally.
Return to place in story.


4.  Seven:  The earliest recorded variation of the story, Perceforest (France, 1528) has three goddesses attending Zellandine's birth celebration. The first, Lucinda, confers health on the child. The second, Themis, curses the child because she has been angered by the absence of a knife by her plate. The curse is that Zellandine will push a distaff into her finger while spinning and will sleep until the object is removed. The third and final, Venus, vows to make the rescue occur. Perrault's version has eight fairies, seven invited with one not. The Grimms have twelve good fairies and one villainous one (Bettelheim 1975).

The changes in number shows that the number is not as important to the story. However, seven is a significant odd number. It appears in the Bible in many places in numbering years and other important events. The Koran speaks of seven heavens. During the Middle Ages, human life was considered to consist of seven year cycles (Jones 1995).
Return to place in story.


5.  Gift:  Gifts are significant as a ritual in celebrations, especially those for births. The gifts in this story are not physical. They are blessings instead. In much of folklore, fairy gifts that are meant to be positive or at least appear to be benevolent often end up becoming curses.
Return to place in story.


6.  Perfections:  Although the exact gifts are insignificant to the story, they are interesting as a representation of the culture from which the story comes. The gifts vary between versions of the tale, but they are always gifts representing desirable feminine traits. The following gifts are significant for this reason.
Return to place in story.


7.  Set with diamonds and rubies:  Jewels are important for expressing wealth and femininity. Diamonds and rubies are two of the most precious stones and of the highest value.
Return to place in story.


8.  Most beautiful person in the world:  Physical beauty is always important especially in female characters. The human race has been obsessed with physical beauty most likely since it began. However, this gift is given first which implies that it is not as important as the gifts which follow. Still, we know that this princess will be beautiful and thus physically desirable.
Return to place in story.


9.  Wit of an angel:  Wit is intelligence and cleverness. This is the second gift and once again its placement shows that it is an important trait in making a virtually perfect woman.
Return to place in story.


10.  Wonderful grace:  Grace is charm and elegance. The princess must have grace to be a pleasant person. Grace will also help her treat her subjects in way that will make them love her as their leader.
Return to place in story.


11.  Dance perfectly well:  Balls and dancing are important in the royal court, especially in fairy tales, and so the princess must be able to dance well to present herself positively in public.
Return to place in story.


12.  Sing like a nightingale:  Singing is another important talent which will increase the princess's range of talents. Before the age of recorded sound, entertaining live music required the local presence of a beautiful voice. Singing was a normal part of an evening's entertainment. People with beautiful singing voices are usually held in high esteem.
Return to place in story.


13.  Play all kinds of music:  Like beautiful singing voices, the ability to perform music was held in even higher esteem before recorded sound.
Return to place in story.


14.  Spindle:  A spindle is "the thin rod in a spinning wheel serving to twist and wind the thread" (Websters 1990). The spindle can have a shape tip and usually does in illustrations of the story. In psychological interpretations of this tale, the spindle is considered to be a phallic symbol.
Return to place in story.


15.  Die of the wound:  It is interesting that the Perceforest version does not have the young princess sentenced to literal death as much as the threat of eternal sleep if no one comes to rescue her. The majority of the later versions include death as the curse. Then the remaining fairy softens the blow to a long slumber. Perhaps this is one of the most appealing factors of this story which has made it last so long.
Return to place in story.


16.  Profound sleep:  Sleeping Beauty will awaken from a long sleep which resembles death, but she will not truly be dead. The symbolism of resurrection or reincarnation is strong. This story is essentially about the triumph over death. Bettelheim states that the long sleep represents the sleepiness which accompanies adolescence when the body is maturing into adulthood. The princess will mature and prepare for adulthood with her sleep (Bettelheim 1975).
Return to place in story.


17.  Hundred years:  A hundred years is long enough for everyone who knew Sleeping Beauty to have lived full lives and died. The worst part of the curse is not that the heroine will sleep for a long time as much as that she will wake up to a strange world in which everyone she has known and loved will be dead.
Return to place in story.


18.  King's son:  The king's son is always an important role and can be the only suitable mate for a princess such as Sleeping Beauty who is a princess herself.

When fairy tales came into being "princes and princesses were as rare as they are today, and fairy tales simply abound with them. Every child at some time wishes that he were a prince or a princess--and at times, in his unconscious, the child believes he is one, only temporarily degraded by circumstances. There are so many kings and queens in fairy tales because their rank signifies absolute power, such as the parent seems to hold over his child. So the fairy-tale royalty represent projections of the child's imagination" (Bettelheim 1975).
Return to place in story.


19.  Sixteen years:  Sixteen is often considered to be the age in which a young woman begins her final steps towards adulthood and is marriageable. This tradition continues on today with the emphasis on "Sweet Sixteen" birthdays.
Return to place in story.


20.  Good old woman:  In some versions, the good old woman is sometimes an innocent player in the story or the wicked witch in disguise insuring her curse comes to pass. Disney's movie version of the tale uses the latter plot device, for example. This version uses the good old woman and implies that the curse has been inevitable since the day it was spoken.
Return to place in story.


21.  Proclamation against spindles:  The king and queen do their best to keep the curse from occurring. They have all of the spindles destroyed and hope to keep their daughter away from them. However, the curse cannot be escaped despite all of their mortal endeavors. The story is reminiscent of the Oedipus myth in which the king does his best to keep his son from killing him, but all of his attempts ultimately come to naught. Oedipus kills his father. Sleeping Beauty must sleep for a hundred years.
Return to place in story.


22.  In a swoon:  A swoon is a faint. In earlier centuries, swooning was a more common occurence both real and faked by women for attention. Fake swoons were affected to change the attention or avoid unpleasant incidents. Real swoons were often caused by corsets being tied too tight or by illness.
Return to place in story.


23.  Unlaced her:  When swooning occurred, it was often caused by a corset being tied too tight. One of the first solutions to the problem was to loosen the corset's ties in order to help the victim catch her breath and revive more quickly.
Return to place in story.


24.  Hungary-water:  Queen of Hungary Water is thought to be the first alcohol-based perfume dating back to the 1300's. An interesting article on the perfume and its uses is available at:

http://www.lehigh.edu/~jahb/herbs/hungarywater.html

Return to place in story.


25.  Her cheeks were carnation:  In this case, carnation is a shade of pink. Sleeping Beauty's pink cheeks reassure the reader that she is only sleeping since her cheeks would turn white if she were dead.
Return to place in story.


26.  Lips were coral:  Coral is a natural healthy color for lips, once again implying that Sleeping Beauty is only sleeping and in good health.
Return to place in story.


27.  Manikin:  A manikin is a tiny man.
Return to place in story.


28.  Twelve thousand leagues:  A league is roughly three miles. This distance would thus calculate to roughly 36 thousand miles, or in other words, a great distance.
Return to place in story.


29.  Little dwarf:  The little dwarf does not appear in most versions of the story and is not a necessary character.
Return to place in story.


30.  Boots of seven leagues:  Seven league boots are common in fairy tales and are used to travel great distances in a short amount of time. Seven leagues equals about 21 miles.
Return to place in story.


31.  Chariot drawn by dragons:  Various mythological figures have driven or ridden in chariots drawn by dragons, including Jupiter and Medea. Perrault's use of the image emphasizes the Fairy's magical presence and powers.
Return to place in story.


32.  Wand:  A wand is "a slender stick or rod, especially one carried by a fairy, magician, conjurer, etc." (Webster's Dictionary 1990). A wand often represents the special powers of a magical character. Sometimes it represents the harnessing of those magical powers.
Return to place in story.


33.  Spits:  A spit is a "skewer on which meat to be roasted is impaled and slowly turned over an open fire" (Webster's Dictionary 1990). This was a common way of cooking meat in previous centuries.
Return to place in story.


34.  Vast number of trees:  A forest grows to protect and hide the castle. Forests are often used to hide danger or represent adventure in fairy tales.
Return to place in story.


35.  Another family:   With the absence of Sleeping Beauty's royal family, another family gained power. This also makes it possible for Sleeping Beauty to marry the prince without the threat of incest.
Return to place in story.


36.  Ogre:  The ogre is usually not included in the story, but his presence in this version is yet another insurance that Sleeping Beauty will not be disturbed before the hundred years are finished. In other versions, the prince finds Sleeping Beauty before the hundred years are up. He rapes her and leaves her as she sleeps. She is impregnated and later wakes up when one of her twin children begins to suckle at her breast.
Return to place in story.


37.  Let him pass:  Since the hundred years are completed in this version of the story, the prince is allowed to pass peacefully through the forest and castle and ultimately find the princess.
Return to place in story.


38.  Some standing, others sitting:  The image of some members of the court standing shows that everyone was literally frozen in place. Time virtually stopped for these people and will resume once Sleeping Beauty is awakened again.
Return to place in story.


39.  Princess awaked:  Note that in this version of the story, the Princess is not awakened by the Prince's kiss, but by the end of the enchantment itself. The prince's arrival and the end of the enchantment coincide, but not with the now popular kiss. The Grimm's version, Briar Rose, includes the kiss and ends shortly after this point in the story.
Return to place in story.


40.  Talked four hours:  Perrault's version of the story is much more innocent and allows some time for Sleeping Beauty and her prince to become acquainted and fall in love. The influence of the French salon fairy tales is clear. The female authors who were contemporary to Perrault emphasized the pains of convenience marriages. Romantic love is presented here.
Return to place in story.


41.  Married them:  In an early Italian version of the tale, Sun, Moon, and Talia, the prince is a king and cannot marry Sleeping Beauty/Talia because he is already married. Perrault presents a more romantic version of the tale with an ogre mother threatening Sleeping Beauty in much the same way the Italian wife does.
Return to place in story.


42.  Very little sleep:  An overt example of Perrault's humor slips into the story here. After sleeping for 100 years, you might not be too sleepy either. A wedding night might also have the same sleepless effect.
Return to place in story.


43.  Charcoal-burner:  A charcoal-burner is a person who creates charcoal by slow-burning wood.

Read more about it here (Thanks to Robin Carroll-Mann for the links.):

Weald and Downland Open Air Museum: Charcoal Burners Camp

Hainault Forest Website: A Charcoal Burner's Hut

Charcoal Burning in Wyre Forest

Return to place in story.


44.  Morning:  In the original French, Perrault chooses "L'Aurore" for the daughter's name which is translated variously as Aurora, Dawn, or Morning. Aurora is sometimes used for Sleeping Beauty's name, not her daugher's, in more modern versions of the tale, especially Walt Disney's film version.

Note that these children are legitimate while, Sun and Moon, in the Italian version, Sun, Moon, and Talia, are not since Talia and the king are not married.
Return to place in story.


45.  Day:  Perrault names the son "Le Jour" in the original French. Most English translations choose to translate the name as Day. In the Italian version, Sun, Moon, and Talia, the children are named Sun and Moon.
Return to place in story.


46.  Race of the Ogres:  While the villianess in Sun, Moon, and Talia is the lawful and reasonably jealous wife of the king, Perrault softens the story by making the character his mother, not his wife, and an Ogre to boot. Perrault doesn't consider that this makes the prince half human and half Ogre and what implications that might bring to him and his new family.

In folklore, ogres are giants given to eating human flesh.
Return to place in story.


47.  Sauce Robert:  One of Perrault's embellishments, Sauce Robert is a variation of traditional French brown sauce that uses mustard as a key ingredient. It is usually used on cooked meats, especially beef and pork. A little information about the sauce and a recipe is available here:

http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/recipe_saucerobert.htm

Return to place in story.


48.  Lamb:  A lamb is a young sheep and will have tender meat which could be mistaken for a young child. Thus the queen can be fooled into believing she ate the child.
Return to place in story.


49.  Kid:  A kid is a young goat and its meat could be mistaken--like lamb meat--for a child due to its tenderness. Once again the queen can be fooled into thinking she ate a human child.
Return to place in story.


50.  Hind:  A hind is a female dear, usually at least three years old. Since this animal is older and will have tougher meat, the queen can be fooled into thinking she ate Sleeping Beauty.
Return to place in story.


51.  Filled with toads, vipers, snakes, and all sorts of serpents:  Serpents are scarier than boiling water for many people and the image is certainly more grotesque and scarier for readers.
Return to place in story.


52.  Comforted himself:  Perrault's humor comes out in this line. Although the king misses his mother, it is implied that he doesn't miss her much with a new bride and children to amuse and distract him. This also serves as a reminder that the king has grown-up, married, and cleaved unto his wife.
Return to place in story.


 

Support SurLaLune

Available on
CafePress.com

Sleeping Beauty themed items available at Cafe Press

Available on
Amazon.com

Sleeping Beauties: Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Tales From Around the World

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

Sleeping Beauty's Daughters by Diane Zahler

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell

Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty by Jane Yolen

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

When Rose Wakes by Christopher Golden

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Sleeping Beauty by K. Y. Craft

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Sleeping Beauty by Louise Rowe

Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey

Spindle's End by Robin McKinley

Waking Beauty by Leah Wilcox (Author), Lydia Monks (Illustrator)

Twice Upon a Time, No. 2: Sleeping Beauty, the One Who Took the Really Long Nap by Wendy Mass

Once Upon a Summer Day by Dennis L. McKiernan

Faerie Tale Theatre: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty by Adele Geras

Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey

Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep by Levine

Watching the Roses by Adele Geras

Never After by Rebecca Lickiss

Waking Rose by Regina Doman

Sleeping Beauty illustrated by Margaret Early

Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Carol Heyer

The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer

Sleeping Beauty illustrated by Arthur Rackham

Snow White and Rose Red by Watts



 

 
©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales
E-mail:
heidi@surlalunefairytales.com
Page created 1/1999; Last updated 2/10/14
www.surlalunefairytales.com