Aurora appeared in the 1959 Walt Disney production of Sleeping Beauty. A tale of a young girl cursed upon her sixteenth birthday, only to be awoken by love’s first kiss. Sleeping Beauty flopped in theatres and another Disney fairytale was not created for another 30 years! Where did Walt Disney find inspiration for this tale? Today we look at the original tale told by Brothers Grimm (Little Brier Rose), and Charles Perrault.
The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault and Brothers Grimm
The story begins much the same. Seven good fairies (instead of 3) are asked to be the godmothers of the baby Princess. An evil fairy (Maleficent?) enters the palace. Everyone thought this evil fairy was dead because she had been living within a tower for years. The baby is gifted beauty, wit, grace, dance, song, and music by the first six fairies. The evil fairy is so mad that she is being overlooked that she enchants the Princess so that she will prick her hand on a spindle and die. The final good fairy tries to do damage control. Rather than dying, the Princess will go into a deep sleep for 100 years unless awakened by a kiss from a Prince.
As a result of the curse, spinning is forbidden throughout the kingdom. When the King and Queen are away, the Princess wanders around the palace until she comes upon an old woman who is spinning on a spindle. The Princess, who has never seen this before, asks for a turn. She pricks her finger on the spindle, and falls asleep. Attempts are made to revive the Princess, but to no avail. The Princess is placed on a bed of gold and silver embroidered fabric. The good fairy who wished sleep, rather than death, upon the Princess is called upon.
The fairy is able to see into the future that the Princess would be distressed when she wakes up, if she is all alone, so the fairy puts everyone in the castle to sleep. The fairy also summons a forest of trees and thorns to surround the castle, to protect the Princess. 100 years later, a Prince passes by. One of his attendants tells him about the Princess inside who must sleep 100 years until a Prince kisses her. The Prince makes his way through the trees and thorns and enters the castle. He sees all of the sleeping people, and finally finds the beautiful Princess. He kisses her, and the enchantment comes to an end. The rest of the castle awakens. The Prince and Princess are later married, in secret.
Here’s where it gets twisted – after being secretly married, the Prince ascends to the throne. He brings his secret wife and their two children to the castle. His ogress mother, the previous Queen, sends the young Queen and her children to a house in the woods and tells a chef to cook and prepare the boy for dinner. The cook can’t bear to do it, so he serves lamb instead. She then asks the chef to cook the girl child now. This time, the chef substitutes a goat. The old ogress Queen asks that he now cook the Young Queen. The chef offers to slit her throat so that she may be with her slain children. He serves her a hind in place of the young Queen. The old Queen soon discovers the trickery. She fills a tub with venomous creatures, intended for the young Queen and her children. The King returns from travel, and discovers what his mother has been doing. She decides to throw herself into the tub, and is fully consumed by the creatures. The King, young Queen, and children live happily ever after.
Surprisingly, the Brothers Grimm version of this story ends when the Prince awakens the Princess. It is the Perrault version which takes it the more gruesome step further.