"The Sleeping Beauty" (French: La Belle au bois dormant "The Beauty sleeping in the Wood") by Charles Perrault or "Little Briar Rose" (German: Dornröschen) by the Brothers Grimm is a classic fairytale involving a beautiful princess, enchantment of sleep, and a handsome prince. Written as an original literary tale, it was first published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697.
The basic elements of Perrault's narrative are in two parts. Some folklorists believe that they were originally separate tales, as they became afterward in the Grimms' version, and were joined together by Basile, and Perrault following him.
At the christening of a king and queen's long-wished-for child, seven fairies are invited to be godmothers to the infant princess. At the banquet back at the palace, the fairies seat themselves with a golden casket containing golden jeweled utensils laid before them. However, a wicked fairy who was overlooked, having been within a certain tower for many years and thought to be either dead or enchanted, enters and is offered a seating, but not a golden casket since only seven were made. The fairies then offer their gifts of beauty, wit, grace, dance, song and music. The old fairy then places the princess under an enchantment as her gift: the princess will prick her hand on a spindle and die. One last fairy has yet to give her gift and uses it to partially reverse the wicked fairy's curse, proclaiming that the princess will instead fall into a deep sleep for 100 years and be awoken by a king's son.
The king forbids spinning on spinning-wheels or spindles, or the possession of one, throughout the kingdom, upon pain of death. When at the end of the fifteen or sixteen years, the king and queen are one day away on pleasure bent, the princess wanders through the palace rooms going up and down and then chances upon an old woman who is spinning with her distaff in the garret of a tower and had not heard of the king's decree against spinning wheels. The princess asks to try the unfamiliar task and the inevitable happens: the curse is fulfilled. The old woman cries for help and attempts are made to revive the princess, but to no avail. The king attributes this to fate and has the princess carried to the finest room in the palace and placed upon a bed of gold-and-silver-embroidered fabric. The good fairy who altered the evil prophecy is summoned by a dwarf wearing seven-league boots and returns in a chariot of fire drawn by dragons. Having great powers of foresight, the good fairy sees that the princess will be distressed to find herself alone and so puts everyone in the castle to sleep. The king and queen kiss their daughter goodbye and depart, proclaiming the entrance to be forbidden. The good fairy's magic also summons a forest of trees, brambles and thorns that spring up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world and preventing anyone from disturbing the princess.
A hundred years pass and a prince from another family spies the hidden castle during a hunting expedition. His attendants tell him differing stories regarding the happenings in the castle until an old man recounts his father's words: within the castle lies a beautiful princess who is doomed to sleep for a hundred years, whereupon a king's son is to come and awaken her. The prince then braves the tall trees, brambles and thorns which part at his approach, and enters the castle. He passes the sleeping castle folk and comes across the chamber where the princess lies asleep on the bed. Trembling at the radiant beauty before him, he falls on his knees before her. The enchantment comes to an end and the princess awakens and converses with the prince for a long time. Meanwhile, the rest of the castle awakes and go about their business. The prince and princess head over to the hall of mirrors to dine and are later married by the chaplain in the castle chapel.
After having been secretly wed by the reawakened Royal almoner, the Prince continued to visit the Princess, who bore him two children, L'Aurore (Dawn) and Le Jour (Day), which he kept secret from his step-mother, who was of an ogre lineage. Once he had ascended the throne, he brought his wife and the talabutte ("Count of the Mount").
The Ogress Queen Mother sent the young Queen and the children to a house secluded in the woods, and directed her cook there to prepare the boy for her dinner, with a sauce Robert. The humane cook substituted a lamb, which satisfied the Queen Mother, who then demanded the girl, but was satisfied with a young goat prepared in the same excellent sauce. When the Ogress demanded that he serve up the young Queen, the latter offered her throat to be slit, so that she might join the children she imagined were dead. There was a tearful secret reunion in the cook's little house, while the Queen Mother was satisfied with a hind prepared with sauce Robert. Soon she discovered the trick and prepared a tub in the courtyard filled with vipers and other noxious creatures. The King returned in the nick of time and the Ogress, being discovered, threw herself into the pit she had prepared and was fully consumed, and everyone else lived happily ever after.
Perrault transformed the tone of Basile's "Sole, Luna, e Talia". Beside differences in tone, the most notable differences in the plot is that, in Basile's version, the sleep did not stem from a curse, but was prophesied; that the king did not wake Talia from the sleep with a kiss, but prayed to the gods to wake her, when the gods visited her, she gave birth to two children, one sucked on her finger, drawing out the piece of flax that had put her to sleep, which woke her; and that the woman who resented her and tried to eat her and her children was not the king's mother but his jealous wife. The mother-in-law's jealousy is less motivated, although common in fairy tales.
In Giambattista Basile's version of Sleeping Beauty, the sleeping beauty was named Talia. When checking out her horoscope, her father had found out that Talia would be in danger from a splinter of flax. This splinter was the cause of Talia's long deep sleep. Unlike the version most of us know from Sleeping Beauty, Basile's version consisted of a more gruesome plot. After Talia (sleeping beauty) died/fell into the deep sleep, she was seated on a velvet throne and her father, to forget his misery of her death, closed the doors and abandoned the house forever. One day, while a king was walking by, one of his falcons flew into the house. The king knocked hoping to be let in by someone but since no one answered, he decided to climb up the ladder he had brought with him and go inside the house. There he saw Talia. He called on her but she was unconscious. Instead of finding out what's wrong or even being worried about this, he carried her to bed and raped her while she was unconscious. Then he just left her in the bed and went back to his kingdom. Even though Talia was unconscious, she gave birth to twins. One of whom kept sucking her fingers. Talia woke up because the twin had sucked out the flax that was stuck deep in Talia's finger. When she had woken up, she saw that she was a mother. She did not know what had happened to her. One day, the king had decided he wanted to go see Talia again and went back to the palace to find her awake and a mother to his twins. He caught her up to who he was, what had happened, and they ended up bonding. After a few days, the king promised her that he will return to take her to his kingdom and went back to his realm. The King's wife kept hearing "Talia, Sun and Moon" coming out of her husband's mouth in his sleep so she bribed the king's secretary and also scared him to tell her what was going on. After the queen learned the truth, she pretended she was the King and wrote Talia asking her to send the twins because he wanted to see them. Talia sent her kids to the "king" and the queen told the cook to kill the kids and make dishes out of them. She had wanted to feed the king his children. The cook instead of doing what the queen had told him, took the kids to his wife and hid them. He then cooked two lambs and served it as it was the kids. Every time the king mentioned how good the food was, the queen replied "Eat, eat, you are eating of your own". Then queen later invited Talia to the kingdom and was going to burn her alive, but the king appeared and found out what was going on about his children and Talia. He then ordered that his wife be burned and not Talia. He also burned those who betrayed him. Since the cook actually did not obey the queen, the king thanked the cook for saving his children by giving him rewards. The story ends by the king marrying Talia and living happily ever after.
There are earlier elements that contributed to the tale, in the medieval courtly romance Perceforest (published in 1528), in which a princess named Zellandine falls in love with a man named Troylus. Her father sends him to perform tasks to prove himself worthy of her, and while he is gone, Zellandine falls into an enchanted sleep. Troylus finds her and impregnates her in her sleep; when their child is born, he draws from her finger the flax that caused her sleep. She realizes from the ring he left her that the father was Troylus; he returns after his adventures to marry her.
Earlier influences come from the story of the sleeping Brynhild in the Volsunga saga and the tribulations of saintly female martyrs in early Christian hagiography conventions. It was, in fact, the existence of Brynhild that persuaded the Brothers Grimm to include the story in later editions of their work rather than eliminate it, as they did to other works they deemed to be purely French, stemming from Perrault's work.
The princess's name has been unstable. In Sun, Moon, and Talia, she is named Talia ("Sun" and "Moon" being her twin children). Perrault removed this, leaving her anonymous, although naming her daughter "L'Aurore". The Brothers Grimm named her "Briar Rose" in their 1812 collection. This transfer was taken up by Disney in the film, which also called her Aurora. John Stejean named her "Rosebud" in TeleStory Presents.
The Brothers Grimm included a variant, Little Briar Rose, in their collection (1812). It truncates the story as Perrault and Basile told it to the ending now generally known: the arrival of the prince concludes the tale. Some translations of the Grimm tale give the princess the name Rosamond. The brothers considered rejecting the story on the grounds that it was derived from Perrault's version, but the presence of the Brynhild tale convinced them to include it as an authentically German tale. Still, it is the only known German variant of the tale, and the influence of Perrault is almost certain.
The Brothers Grimm also included, in the first edition of their tales, a fragmentary fairy tale, The Evil Mother-in-Law. This began with the heroine married and the mother of two children, as in the second part of Perrault's tale, and her mother-in-law attempted to eat first the children and then the heroine. Unlike Perrault's version, the heroine herself suggested an animal be substituted in the dish, and the fragment ends with the heroine's worry that she can not keep her children from crying, and so from coming to the attention of the mother-in-law. Like many German tales showing French influence, it appeared in no subsequent edition.
Italo Calvino included a variant in Italian Folktales. The cause of her sleep is an ill-advised wish by her mother: she would not care if her daughter died of pricking her finger at fifteen, if only she had a daughter. As in Pentamerone, she wakes after the prince rapes her in her sleep, and her children are born and one sucks on her finger, pulling out the prick that had put her to sleep. He preserves that the woman who tries to kill the children is the king's mother, not his wife, but adds that she does not want to eat them herself but serves them to the king. His version came from Calabria, but he noted that all Italian versions closely followed Basile's.
The hostility of the king's mother to his new bride is repeated in the fairy tale The Six Swans, and also features The Twelve Wild Ducks, where she is modified to be the king's stepmother, but these tales omit the cannibalism.
Some folklorists have analyzed Sleeping Beauty as indicating the replacement of the lunar year (with its thirteen months, symbolically depicted by the full thirteen fairies) by the solar year (which has twelve, symbolically the invited fairies). This, however, founders on the issue that only in the Grimms' tale is the wicked fairy the thirteenth fairy; in Perrault's, she is the eighth. The basic elements of the story can also be interpreted as a nature allegory: the princess represents nature, the wicked fairy is winter, who puts the Court to sleep with pricks of frost until the prince (spring) cuts away the brambles with his sword (a sunbeam) to allow the Sun to awaken sleeping nature.
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- Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote two poems based on Sleeping Beauty, "Sleeping Beauty" in 1830, and an expanded, rewritten version, "The Day-Dream", in 1842.
- In 1959, the story was made into a Walt Disney animated film. The film was notoriously expensive to produce and was at the time not very successful, but has since come to be regarded as the quintessential adaptation and a film classic in its own right. It is also notable for expanding the character of the evil fairy significantly.
- Sleeping Beauty has been popular for many fairytale fantasy retellings. These include Robin McKinley's Spindle's End, Orson Scott Card's Enchantment, Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, Sophie Masson's Clementine, and Anne Rice's (as A. N. Roquelaure) Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.
- Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novel The Gates of Sleep, set in Edwardian England, includes many elements from "Sleeping Beauty". A notable difference from the original is that in Lackey's version the Sleeping Beauty's analogue does not sleep passively waiting for the Prince to wake her; rather, while her body lies unconscious, her spirit is very much awake, waging a magical battle to the death with the Wicked Fairy's analogue.
- Jim C. Hines in Princess Series portrays the prince as raping Sleeping Beauty- AKA Talia- while she slept, Talia waking up after giving birth and using her gift of grace to become a highly skilled martial artist; she develops a strong dislike of fairies and unrequited feelings of love for her friend and ally, Snow White.
- In the ABC TV show Once Upon a Time, Sleeping Beauty (named Aurora after the Disney version) is portrayed by Sarah Bolger, and Prince Phillip is played by Julian Morris. Maleficent (Kristen Bauer van Straten) appears in a different context, but it is mentioned that she is the one who cursed Aurora and that she once cursed Aurora's mother in the same manner.
- The story is mentioned in passing in a companion to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, "The New Traveller's Almanac". In this world the family of the Princess (Rosamund) are inbred and are cursed by cataleptic fits. Rosamund's castle is one of many that stand in the Ardennes forests on the Belgian border, three of the others belonging to Bluebeard, the Beast, and the Marquis de Carabas.
- In his 1854 satirical fantasy "The Rose and the Ring", William Makepeace Thackeray used an element from the "Sleeping Beauty" with a reversed meaning: The Fairy Blackstick comes uninvited to the Christening of the Princess Rosalba and wishes the child "a bit of bad luck". But in Thackeray's version, the Fairy meant well and the Princess' bad luck ultimately made her a better and happier person than she would have been otherwise.
Sleeping Beauty in music
Before Tchaikovsky's version, several ballet productions were based on the "Sleeping Beauty" theme, amongst which one from Eugène Scribe: in the winter of 1828–1829, the French playwright furnished a four-act mimed scenario as a basis for Aumer's choreography of a four-act ballet-pantomime La Belle au Bois Dormant. Scribe wisely omitted the violence of the second part of Perrault's tale for the ballet, which was set by Hérold and first staged at the Académie Royale in Paris on 27 April 1829. Though Hérold popularized his piece with a piano Rondo brilliant based on themes from the music, he was not successful in getting the ballet staged again.
When Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the Director of the Imperial Theatres in Saint Petersburg, wrote to Tchaikovsky on 25 May 1888, suggesting a ballet based on Perrault's tale, he also cut the violent second half, climaxed the action with the Awakening Kiss, and followed with a conventional festive last act, a series of bravura variations.
"Sleeping Beauty", by Alexander Zick (1845–1907)
"Sleeping Princess" by Viktor Vasnetsov
"He stands—he stoops to gaze—he kneels—he wakes her with a kiss", woodcut by Walter Crane
"Sleeping Beauty" by Edward Frederick Brewtnall
"Sleeping Beauty", statue in Wuppertal – Germany
The Sleeping Beauty by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Perrault's "La Belle au bois dormant" (Sleeping Beauty), illustration by Gustave Doré
Book cover for a Dutch interpretation of the story by Johann Georg van Caspel
- Bottigheimer, Ruth. (2008). "Before Contes du temps passe (1697): Charles Perrault's Griselidis, Souhaits and Peau". The Romantic Review, Volume 99, Number 3. pp. 175–189
- Maria Tatar, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, 2002:96, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
- Basile, Giambattista. "Sun, Moon, and Talia". Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Jack Zipes, The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, p 648, ISBN 0-393-97636-X
- Charles Willing, "Genevieve of Brabant"
- Heidi Anne Heiner, "Tales Similar to Sleeping Beauty"
- Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, Grimms' Fairy Tales, "Little Briar-Rose"
- Heidi Anne Heiner, "The Annotated Sleeping Beauty"
- Harry Velten, "The Influences of Charles Perrault's Contes de ma Mère L'oie on German Folklore", p 961, Jack Zipes, ed. The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, ISBN 0-393-97636-X
- Harry Velten, "The Influences of Charles Perrault's Contes de ma Mère L'oie on German Folklore", p 962, Jack Zipes, ed. The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm, ISBN 0-393-97636-X
- Maria Tatar, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, p 376-7 W. W. Norton & company, London, New York, 2004 ISBN 0-393-05848-4
- Italo Calvino, Italian Folktales p 485 ISBN 0-15-645489-0
- Italo Calvino, Italian Folktales p 744 ISBN 0-15-645489-0
- Joseph Jacobs, More English Fairy Tales, "The King of England and his Three Sons"
- Maria Tatar, The Annotated Brothers Grimm, p 230 W. W. Norton & company, London, New York, 2004 ISBN 0-393-05848-4
- Lüthi, Max (1970). Once Upon A Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales. New York: Frederick Ungar. p. 33. ISBN 0-8044-2565-5.
- Hill, Robert (1971), Tennyson's Poetry p. 544. New York: Norton.
- Märchenbilder (Schumann)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sleeping Beauty.|
- Sleeping beauty in the woods, by Perrault, 1870 illustrated scanned book via Internet Archive
- Texts on Wikisource: