What? Every story has taught me that kissing a girl while they’re unconscious is TOTES ROMANTIC.
I love looking at fairy tales today (often ala Disney) and tracing them back to where they first began. Sleeping Beauty’s original incarnation as a Russian fairy tale is particularly horrifying with what happens while the princess is asleep, but it at least resembles(ish) the version we know today.
The one I find most interesting is probably the Princess and the Frog. In the modern version, she has to kiss him to make him a prince. In the original, the frog makes increasingly invasive demands, which the King forces the princess to obey, until the frog demands that she allow him to sleep with her in her bed. Finally reaching the breaking point, the princess grabs the frog and flings him against the wall in rage. Then, and only then, does he turn into a prince. Bit of a different message there, wouldn’t you say?
We’re hardly the only culture to do this. I remember going to an exhibit on ancient Rome at the local museum, and was surprised to see sanitized versions of Egyptian and Greek gods. I’d known that the Romans had incorporated other mythologies, but I hadn’t known how much they removed. Dionysus (Bacchus) was simply the jolly god of wine – not the madness-inducing slaughter machine that made people eat one another and rip each other limb from limb. Hephaestus (Vulcan) was the good-looking god of the forge – not the hideous, crippled mess of Grecian tales. Isis still had her rejuvenation associations, but they conveniently removed the undead husband missing his *ahem* special parts.
Have you ever researched a story and found it changed by history? What was the tale?
What do you think happens to a culture as its stories change? Are we better or worse off when a fairy tale loses its teeth?