The Sleeping Prince: AT 437
A king asks his seven daughters which of them loves him most. Each has a flattering compliment, except for the youngest, who says only that she loves him as much as she loves salt. Feeling insulted, the king casts her into exile.
After much wandering, she finds a palace deep in the jungle, where a handsome prince lies dead. His body is completely covered in needles. She begins pulling out the needles and doesn't stop for three weeks, even to eat or sleep. When she is almost done, she asks her servant girl to watch the prince while she goes to bathe for the first time in almost a month. As soon as she's gone, the servant girl yanks out the last few needles and the prince is magically restored to life. The servant claims to be the one who saved him, and tells him that the real princess is only a servant. So the servant becomes a prince's wife, and the princess is left as a lowly slave.
One day the prince goes on a journey. His wife asks him to bring back fine clothes and jewelry, while the heroine asks for a sun-jewel box. The prince is baffled by this request, but finally tracks one down for her. She takes it outside, at which point seven dolls come out of the box, set up a tent for her, and wait on her while she tells them her life story. This goes on from night to night. A woodcutter notices this and alerts the prince. When the prince learns the truth, he takes her as his wife and dethrones the false bride.
This is "The Princess Who Loved Her Father Like Salt," an Indian tale that falls under Aarne Thompson Type 437. This tale type is known as The Supplanted Bride or the Needle Prince. It was removed from later versions of the Aarne Thompson index, and appeared only as a part of AT 894, The Ghoulish Schoolmaster and the Stone of Pity. It seems like this was a mistake. The Supplanted Bride is often very different from the Ghoulish Schoolmaster. They seem to have been merged into the same tale type based on a couple of versions which combined both, and the final scene, where the persecuted heroine tells her story to an unusual object such as a stone or a doll.
Type 437 has been collected throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It makes up the frame story of the Pentamerone. The heroine's task varies from story to story. Some examples are filling buckets with her tears, pulling needles out of the cursed prince's skin, fanning him, or watching over him for a period of weeks, months, or years.
It overlaps with many Sleeping Beauty stories, where a maiden falls into a cursed sleep when stabbed by a magic needle. This is what happens in "The Young Slave," a Snow White-esque story from the Pentamerone. She, too, is treated like a servant until her uncle overhears her telling her story to a doll, a stone, and a knife.
There are also strong connections to false bride stories such as "The White Bride and the Black One" or "The Three Oranges." In some versions, the false bride gets rid of the true bride by stabbing a magic pin into her head and turning her into a bird. The bird may then sing her life story.
The ugly false bride, usually a slave, is particularly likely to be a black woman, "Moorish," or a "gypsy." These are tales born of classism and racism, betraying fear of a lower class who might decide to rebel. At the end, the servant is often brutally punished for her insurrection.
On another note, variants of "The Three Oranges" usually begin with a prince who is either cursed or inspired to seek a mythical bride, who may be as white as snow and red as blood. In the Pentamerone, Zoza is cursed in exactly this way when she laughs at an old woman. In the Angolese story of Ngana Fenda Maria, the heroine cuts her finger and is struck by the image of her blood on a piece of sugarcane. In these cases, the inciting event and the quest for a wonderful spouse are exactly like "The Three Oranges."
However, the male hero of "The Three Oranges" never has to deal with the trials and travails of "The Supplanted Bride." Closer to the Supplanted Bride is the tale of The Skilful Huntsman, AT type 304, collected by the Brothers Grimm. A young man goes out to seek his fortune as a huntsman. While fighting giants, he enters a castle and finds a princess sleeping. He steals a sword, a slipper and a scrap from her dress without awakening her, and then returns to slaying the monsters. He cuts out the giants' tongues and goes on his way. When the inhabitants of the castle awake, they find the giants dead. One of the king's soldiers, an ugly one-eyed man, claims to be the giant-slayer. The princess is supposed to marry him and when she refuses, her father condemns her to live in a hut giving away food. One day the hero drops by. She asks him to tell his story and he shows her the tokens he took from the castle, along with the giants' tongues. With that, the soldier is revealed as a fraud and executed, and the hero marries the princess and becomes the next king.
Here you have the sleeper, the impostor, and the conclusion where the hero recounts his story. Some other variants are Niels and the Giants (Denmark), The King of Erin and the Queen of the Lonesome Island (Ireland), and The Sleeping Queen (Italy). There's more room here for social advancement, with the hero sometimes going from peasant to king. The sleeping maiden can either be under a curse or sleeping normally. The hero doesn't awaken her, but leaves something to show he's been there - by cutting a piece from her garment, leaving a token of his own, or impregnating her. This causes her to seek him out once she does wake.
In "The Supplanted Bride," the heroine must earn her husband by serving him for years upon years, completing ridiculously arduous tasks, and being the perfect servile wife whose whole life centers around him. It's her wifely devotion that restores the man to life. When she falters from her duty, even for a second, she loses everything and has to endure even more trials while being treated like a slave.
By contrast, the hero of Type 304 shows little attachment to the sleeping princess. He comes and goes in a brief space of time, and certainly doesn't wait to see if she wakes up. Afterwards, he might be bothered by having his fame stolen, but doesn't have much trouble setting out to make his own way in the world. The task of seeking the truth falls to his bride.
Several folklorists have commented that stories of The Supplanted Bride encourage women to obediently endure suffering and misery. In the Greek tale "The Sleeping Prince," the maiden tells her story to a hangman's rope, a butcher's knife, and a millstone of patience. The rope and knife advise her to commit suicide, while the stone encourages her to be patient and endure. In her despair, she sees these as her only two options.
However, Christine Goldberg points out that the heroine gets what she wants after she loses her patience. She complains, loudly, sometimes repeatedly, whether in public or in private. She earns her happy ending not by enduring silently, but by speaking up.
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Researching folktales and fairies, with a focus on common tale types.