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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.