Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wish You Were Part of a Fairy Tale Couple? You May Want to Think Again...

by Annie Leibovitz

Today is Valentine's Day and that means many things to many people. Not growing up in the US, Valentine's was not a day for kids. It was really to give a little push to couples who could use it - whether in declaring their unspoken feelings to new beaus or their long time partners. Of course, once Hallmark got a hold of the 'holiday', the pressure was on and now just having dinner with someone of February 14th is loaded with meaning. It's become a day full of unreal expectations and not many people are secure enough in themselves and their relationships to enjoy the day without feeling any pressures. Of course, the idea of 'a fairy tale romance' comes up a lot around today's date but if you really stop and think about it, fairy tale love isn't always what you might think.
Artist unknown

I have an article on "True Love and Fairy Tales" coming up in the next week at Supernatural Fairy Tales (so look out for that one) but for today I wanted to share something I found while researching: a priceless old blog post of Sarah Beth Durst's from 2008 on "Fairy Tale Couples".

If you're not aware of Sarah, you should be. She's written three fairy tale based books so far with her latest being "Ice", a retelling of "East Of the Sun, West of the Moon" (you can read my post on "Ice" HERE). In addition to telling a good story she's wonderfully funny on her blog and often takes a good hard look at fairy tales with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek.
The Prince sees Snow White by Margaret Tarrant

Here's an excerpt from "Fairy Tale Couples" in which she looks at the cons of fairy tale couples or:
WHY I DON'T WANT A FAIRY-TALE RELATIONSHIP (or Reasons to Buy the Card with Love Birds on it Instead)
Snow White and Prince
HER: Leaves her loyal friends after just one kiss.
HIM: Falls in love with a dead girl. Ick.
After a few other dubious fairy tale couple examples she goes on to the pros or:
WHY I'M GIVING MY HUSBAND THE CARD ANYWAY (or Why I Still Think Fairy-Tale Love is Romantic)
Snow White and Prince
As a wedding present, he lets her murder the evil witch. Now that's true love.
Development art by Gustav A. Tenggren for Disney's Snow White

It's not a long post but it's very funny and very smart. You'll find yourself laughing and both being thankful for what you have (or don't have - ick!) and finish reading with your fairy tale romance dreams still somehow intact. Go read the whole thing HERE (then go support her by buying her books, so she'll be able to write more great stuff - we need writers like Sarah!).

Thank you Sarah, and Happy Valentine's day everyone.


  1. Sweeeet. I'm writing a tongue-in-cheek fairy tale romance (in novel form) myself. But the ironic thing is, a novel based on fairy tales only HAS to be tongue-in-cheek because it comes out during the post-Disney age. Fairy tales only became sappy and ultra-romantic with Disney.

    Older Indo-European tales (especially German) were filled with violence, abusive relationships (familial and marital), and all sorts of dark themes. There were no magical kisses of true love, and the "happily ever afters" were tacked on at the end of gruesome vengeance tales. The heroine's reward when hooking up with Prince Charming (or King Whoever) at the end was not so much a lifetime of lovey bliss as a chance to escape some kind of horror and wreak revenge upon her enemies. Marital love was not an important focus or an assumption. The important part was the power and secure position that came along with a royal spouse.

    Tales with more of a focus on love between two young people or husband and wife usually starred two peasants, not a princess bride and a powerful man.

    For example, the Grimm tales include stories about a peasant husband seeking his lost wife, who has been transformed into a flower or surrounded by body doubles or something. His love for her is tested against his ability to find and recognize her through magical disguises. To me, those stories are much more romantic than the ones in which a girl hooks up with a rich stranger so she can escape abuse and kill her enemies.

    I guess, originally, romantic love was assumed to be in the court of commoners, who were more likely to marry for love and not power. "True love" was shown by knowing one's lover well and having the devotion to seek him/her out when he/she was "lost" or bewitched. Gifts of money, position, or material riches were not signs of affection so much as contractual obligations or exchanges.

    That's an interesting concept to consider around Valentine's Day! My advice to fairy tale lovers: Seek wisdom in the OG versions, not modern cartoons.

  2. Thanks for sharing that link, I'm off to read. And that first picture...*sigh* I'm such a sucker for a good-looking prince.

  3. Genie of the Shell: Glad you enjoyed the post (and Ms. Durst's article) and thanks for taking the time to post such an informative comment. I think you'll enjoy my article when it eventually posts too, by what you wrote. Funny thing is I haven't read about many people realizing the disparity of romance in prince/princess hook-ups vs true love among commoners (there are true love stories among royals too, but you're right - for the most part it's business first. If love follows that's a bonus). It's odd that the only book I can find on the subject is in German (and I don't read German) - such a right subject for study, analysis and a lot of fun too. There's actually a lot of great relationship 'advice' in the old stories if you know where to look, isn't there? Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for the article. ;)

    Elva: He he - I think you're not the only one enjoying that pic. I do think it's funny how the prince is the one with the eyes closed and the beauty is actually awake though... that could be a WHOLE other post! LOL

  4. Very interesting post! That Annie Liebovitz photo is gorgeous. Where did you get it?