Tales of Sleeping Beauty

Tales of Sleeping Beauty

Jovenica Hodgson, Writer

Sleeping Beauty was cursed as a child, so that when she turned 16 she would fall into a deep sleep. Only to be awakened  by the kiss of her one true love. That’s the story of Sleeping Beauty. Or at least that’s the story I was told as a child. Growing up, Sleeping  Beauty was always one of my favorite princesses. The idea that the one person who could wake her up from her deep sleep was her true love was so romantic. Which is why I was shocked that that wasn’t the full truth. People are always recreating fairytales. Changing the story a bit, so that you can still identify its roots, but it sounds like they’re not completely copying the original idea. There have been many versions of Sleeping Beauty.  She has evolved a lot over the years. However, in all the newer stories one thing always stayed the same. The fact she was awakened by true love.  That wasn’t always the case in the older tales though.

Little Briar Rose: Brother’s Grim

This was one of the earliest tales of Sleeping Beauty. It was written by the Grimm Brother’s. This tale is probably the lightest of them all. It also the one that’s most like the story of Sleeping Beauty that you and I know.

In this story the King and Queen were desperate for a child, but they feared they couldn’t have one. One day a frog told them that they would bear a child. When the princess Briar Rose was born they had a huge celebration.  They invited 12 fairies who were to be her godmothers (not 3 like in the more modern versions). They all came to give her gifts of goodness. 11 of the fairies had given Briar Rose her gifts when a thirteenth fairy came in. This fairy was not invited and very envious of all the attention that was given to the princess. Out of jealousy the thirteenth fairy gave Briar Rose a curse that on her fifteenth (not 16 like in the stories nowadays) birthday she would prick her finger and die. The twelfth fairy still hadn’t given her gift, so she tried desperately to take away the fairy’s curse. Sadly she could not, however she was able to adjust it a little. Instead of Briar Rose dying, she would fall into a deep sleep for 100 years (in this story it says nothing about her being woken up by her true love, it doesn’t even say anything about her being woken by a kiss). The King and Queen tried to keep their daughter safe. However, this prophecy played out.  Unexpectedly, when the princess fell to sleep the whole castle followed along with her. Over the years people tried to enter the castle but it was covered in thorns, so anyone who tried would die. Then one day a Prince came along the castle. He had heard the stories, but he was keen on getting in. To his surprise, as he attempted to enter the thorns separated, and he had a safe entrance.  He saw Briar Rose asleep on the bed and bent down to kiss her.  Briar Rose awoke along with the rest of the castle. That’s how the story ends.

The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods: Charles Perrault

This tale gets a little bit darker. However, it still stays pretty close to the modern day version. There’s just some content in this story that would never be allowed to feature in a disney fairytale.

Once again the King and Queen are desperate to have a child. It takes them awhile to conceive, but eventually Briar Rose is born. Once she’s born they throw a huge celebration and invite 7 fairies to be her godmothers. As the fairies are about to give the princess their gifts, which was custom at this time, an old fairy who wasn’t invited shows up.  Nobody had seen this fairy for 50 years, some even thought she had died. The fairies began to give the princess gifts. 6 of the fairies bestowed upon the princess gifts of goodness. Now it was the turn of the old fairy. Instead of a gift,  the fairy placed a curse upon her that she would prick her finger and die. The seventh fairy who still hadn’t given her gift tried to take away the curse, but wasn’t successful. She could only alter it so that instead of dying, Briar Rose would go into a deep sleep for 100 years until a king’s son shall awaken her (again it says nothing in this version about him being her true love). Years later, inevitably, the princess picks her finger and falls into a deep sleep. The same fairy who gave her the sleeping curse, put the rest of the castle to sleep so that the princess would not wake up alone. Years later, the prince came to the castle after hearing the tale of the princess. The princess didn’t awaken from the kiss of the prince. She simply awoke from his presence in the castle.

That part of the story was pretty close to the modern day version. However,  this story goes on to what happens after the princess is woken, and they don’t live the life you may suspect at first. After the princess is awakened, the rest of the castle is awakened as well. The prince and the princess go on to get married. However, the prince keeps this a secret from his family. He told lies whenever he wanted to go see the princess. His father believed these lies, but his mother suspected something was up. He didn’t trust his mother because she came from a race of ogres, so he hid this from her.  Two years past and the prince and the princess had two daughters: Dawn and Day. The King passed away, so the prince was forced to take the throne. He could no longer live in secret, so he finally told his kingdom about the princess and his two daughters. His mother didn’t dare make a move against the princess and her children when her son was around, but eventually he went off to fight a war. As soon as he left, the Queen ordered that they eat Dawn. She gave a steward this job, but he could not go through with it. He kept Dawn as his own, and gave the Queen some other type of meat hoping she wouldn’t know the difference. He did the same with Day after the Queen ordered they eat her.  The Queen then ordered they eat the princess a well. The princess did not refuse because she believed both of her children to be dead. The stewart took pity on her as well and spared her life. They were kept in secret for a while until one day the ogres heard the cries of one of the children. The queen was furious to find out they were alive, and ordered them all killed once again. Before the queen got a chance to kill the princess and Dawn and Day, the prince came back from his journey. He was infuriated to find out what had happened in his absence. He ordered that the Queen be killed. And they lived happily ever after, sort of.

Sun, Moon and Talia by Giambattista Basile

This was the oldest tale of sleeping beauty I could find. It was also the hardest to find the real story. I read a few and all of them had different explanations as to how the princess woke up. Some said she was raped and woke up from the pain of childbirth. Some said she woke up because some random twins wandered into her place and in an attempt to wake her up sucked on her finger and were able to get the flax out. And in some cases these twins are the one’s she gave birth too. I’m not 100% sure on what it is, however I do know that in this version, true love’s kiss didn’t wake her up. This version is definitely the farthest away from the modern day tale of sleeping beauty.

In this tale, there was no mention of the princess’s mother. It just said her father was given a daughter whom he named Talia. In this version there was also no mention of fairy godmothers. It just said the king sent wise men out to predict the future of the child. There was a prophecy that predicted that one day the child would face great danger from a splinter of flax. So the king banned all flax from the kingdom. However, one day Talia saw an old woman spinning. Out of curiosity because she had never seen someone spin before she decided to give it a try. She got a splinter and fell dead to the ground. Or at least that’s what the whole castle believed. The King and the rest of the kingdom abandoned the castle. Leaving Talia who they believed to be dead on the bed. Years later a different King was outside the castle when his bird flew into it. He went into the castle to retrieve the bird and saw the princess on the bed. He tried screaming at her but there was no response. This is where the stories vary, but from what I can tell, after this he left the castle. Nine months later Talia gave birth to 2 children. The children tried to wake their mother from her sleep and sucked on her finger. Once they did the flax came out, and she awakened. Later on in the story it says the King remembers Talia and wanders into the castle again. He wanders into the castle and is ecstatic to see that she’s awake with 2 children (it says nothing about them being his children, but if you connect the dots you can tell they are). The only issue now was that the King was married. His wife grew suspicious because he would speak the names of Talia and the children Sun and Moon in his sleep. After learning about the children the King’s wife sent a cook to cook the children and serve them to the her. The cook couldn’t cook the children and took them to be his own. Instead he served the Queen lamb. The Queen asked the cook to fetch Talia. However, after the King heard what she was doing he stopped her. It doesn’t say what happened to the Queen, but it does say later on he married Talia. So I guess they live happily ever after.

There are most likely many more tales of Sleeping Beauty. Each one more gruesome than that last. However, I think I can say with confidence that I prefer the modern version to the older ones. They are definitely more kid friendly. However, these are just a few of the many tales of Sleeping Beauty.