The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde
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"The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde" is a fairy tale written by Mary de Morgan (1850–1907) in her collection of short stories called "The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde and Other Stories." This collection of fairy tales originally published in 1880. Mary de Morgan helped to make the Victorian era prominent in literature. In her short stories, she is able to use "mystery, pathos, and comedy" to create entertaining and imaginative literature for all to enjoy. In addition, de Morgan uses both female and male protagonists in her writing exhibiting her belief in equality among the sexes. In many of her works, Mary de Morgan uses elements from the folk tales of medieval England. This is apparent in the universality of her literature, as it was easily relatable to all in Victorian England despite the different socioeconomic classes.
The fairy tale of "The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde" is about a young wicked princess named Fiorimonde. With the help of a witch, Fiorimonde uses magic to maintain her beauty. When the King wishes her to marry, Fiorimonde, not wishing her suitors to discover her secret, transforms them into beautiful beads on a necklace. Her maid Yolande, and a friend of one of the suitors, learn of the Princess' wickedness and wish to free her suitors from her curse. She is only defeated when she herself is transformed into a bead on the necklace.
Fiorimonde is a beautiful princess whose father is a powerful yet kind king. The princess is unlike any woman on Earth, she has long golden locks, the fairest of skin, and big beautiful eyes. Princess Fiorimonde in spite of her beauty, however, is a wicked princess, who practices black magic and witchcraft. Every night, while the rest of the castle sleeps, Princess Fiorimonde travels to a small hut on the side of a mountain where an old and ugly witch teaches her sorcery. It is in fact by the Witch's magic that the princess grows more beautiful with each passing day.
As the princess grows older, her widowed father, with no male heir to his throne, decides it is time for the princess to marry. So, the King and his council sends out summons to neighboring kingdoms stating that the King will choose a suitable husband for the Princess who will then become King after his death. Hearing this, the Princess knows that should she be wed, her husband will discover her secret that she visits the witch each night and will force her to stop practicing magic, which will cause her to lose her beauty.
That night, the princess goes to the old Witch's hut and asks for advice. The witch gives the princess three choices: to turn her suitors into dogs to come whenever the princess calls, to turn them into birds and have them fly into the air and sing of her beauty, or to turn them into the beads of a necklace so beautiful that no woman has ever worn anything like its equal. Of these, the Princess contently chooses the last. The witch, before giving the Princess the strongest gold thread upon which the beads will rest, warns the princess that if should she wrap her fingers around the thread, she too will become a bead until the gold thread is cut and her bead is taken off the thread. Heeding the witch's warning, the Princess takes the golden thread and returns home.
The next day, the king announces that King Pierrot has come to marry his daughter. Almost as soon as the king announces this, the Princess has King Pierrot wrap his fingers around her gold thread and he becomes a beautiful bead on the necklace. The princess mourns for a month at the "disappearance" of King Pierrot. More suitors continue to come to ask for the Princess's hand in marriage, and the Princess continues to trick them into touching her necklace and to become beads. Each time a suitor disappears, Yolande, the princess's maid notices a new bead appears on the Princess's gold thread.
One day, after many suitors have come and gone, Prince Florestan tries his luck with the Princess, despite his friend Gervaise's warnings that all who go to marry Princess Fiorimonde go missing. Upon arriving at the court, Prince Florestan is welcomed humbly by the King. Later, just as all the rest have gone missing, so too does Prince Florestan. Gervaise however, is told by the Princess's maid, Yolande, of the Princess's sorcery. That night, in an effort to save Prince Florestan and the others, Gervaise and Yolande go to cut the thread from the sleeping Princess's neck. However, Yolande herself becomes a bead in the process.
A few days later, Gervaise returns to Princess Fiorimonde's palace so well disguised as a Prince that the Princess does not even recognize him. Upon arrival, Gervaise begins to provoke the Princess by saying that he has seen a more beautiful woman than her. Angered, the Princess asks Gervaise to bring this woman to her. Cunningly, Gervaise says that he will only bring the woman to the Princess if she gives him her necklace. Outraged, the Princess refuses, and that night she travels to the Witch's hut to ask for her help. The witch advises the Princess not to listen to this Prince's lies and to be careful unless she wants to become a bead on her necklace herself.
The next morning as the sun rises, Gervaise goes into the woods. There, he plucks acorns, haws, and hips and creates a necklace of his own and he hides it in his bosom. He then returns to the palace without anyone knowing of his absence. Later that morning, the Princess calls Gervaise into her company. The Princess, upon Gervaise's arrival, asks him again if she is the most beautiful woman on earth and again he replies her saying that he has seen another more beautiful. Remembering the witch's warning, the Princess then asks Gervaise if he has seen a more beautiful necklace than hers. He responds cunningly that he has never seen such a beautiful necklace; however, he prefers another, which is the one he had strung together earlier from the haws and acorns. Fiorimonde greedily wants to see the necklace that Gervaise claims to be better than hers and she believes that perhaps Gervaise's necklace has powers to make the wearer beautiful and that is why he had seen a more beautiful woman than her. Gervaise agrees to make an exchange for his necklace and he tells her to take off hers. In her anger, the Princess attempts to take off her necklace, not realizing her mistake. She disappears and becomes the thirteenth bead on the golden thread. Gervaise, in his delight, picks up the necklace with the tip of his sword and brings it to the King.
Gervaise then cuts the golden thread and removes each bead on the necklace at a time, which allows for the returning Princes to tell their stories to the King. Therefore, this proves the wickedness of the princess. Finally, Gervaise removes the beads that are Yolande and his dear friend Prince Florestan. In his humility, the King asks how he can ever repay Gervaise and the other Princes who have been subject to his daughters' cruelty. Gervaise only requests that the bead representing Princess Fiorimonde never be removed from the gold thread, and that the necklace be hung as a warning for others who are as wicked as she is. Agreeing to Gervaise's advice, the King and his court hang the necklace at the town-hall for all to see the princess' punishment. The princes all return to their kingdoms. Gervaise marries Yolande and brings her back to his home with Prince Florestan and they all live happily ever after.
"The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde and Other Stories" was written in 1880 and published in London by Macmillan & Co in 1886.
- De Morgan, Mary. "The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde". Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- Fowler, James (2005). "The Golden Harp: Mary de Morgan's Centrality in Victorian Fairy-Tale Literature" (PDF). Children's Literature. 33: 224–236. doi:10.1353/chl.2005.0007. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- Carroll, Alicia (1 September 2010). "The Greening of Mary De Morgan: The Cultivating Woman and the Ecological Imaginary in "The Seeds of Love"". Victorian Review. 36 (2): 104–117. doi:10.1353/vcr.2010.0049. Retrieved 8 February 2013.