Fairy Tale Realness
Written by Ildi Kungl on Nov 12, 2020
Fairy tale realness!
Warning, just like the real fairy tales, this article is not meant for children.
So a teenager gets cursed and falls asleep and when she finally wakes up, the first thing she sees are two little crotch-goblins trying to suckle on her fingers. PLOT TWIST: those are her twins! SUPER PLOT TWIST: The King is now her baby daddy and the Queen is pissed! Later, the Queen is trying to feed the teens children to her hubby #gameOfThronesStyle. But the cook is not Arya Stark and feeds him some lamb instead. After a fire side strip show and some dramatic reveals, the King leaves the Queen, promotes chef and he lives happily ever after with his new family.
This was not an extract from an American Horror story episode. This is one of the original versions of one of our most beloved fairy tales “Sleeping Beauty”. Originally called “Sun, Moon, and Talia” by Giambattista Basile. Fairy tales are not really the beautified tales we now know them as. Some are weird, some are questionable and all are really horrific. So let’s ruin some childhoods a bit more and delve deeper into the toe-slicing, weave-chopping and baby stealing histories of our favourite bed time stories.
The first lie most of you were told regarding fairy tales is that most were written by the Brothers Grimm. The brothers (Jacob and Wilhelm) did not actually invent these stories. They were German scholars who collected folktales that were part of oral tradition and published them in a book that was very much NOT intended for children.
Let’s start with Snow White, or as they called it, “Little Snow-White”.
Snow White is only seven years old when the Queen wants her dead. Not a woman, but just a small girl!
The queen does not ask for Snow Whites Heart (as some new editions and Disney would have you believe), but for her lungs and liver. She then asks for the cook to boil and salt them and proceeds to eat it. Thanks to the kind huntsman, it is a wild boars innards she is eating and not that of our dear Snow White. Still, old fairy tales have a weird fetish for almost cannibalism!
The apple is not the only thing the Queen tries to kill Snow White with. First she disguises herself as a woman selling bodice lace and such things. She gets in the door and laces Snow White up so tight that she can’t breathe. Think Kiera Knighlty in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but worse. Luckily the dwarves were smart enough to cut the lace when they found her and she was saved.
Second trick up the Queens sleeve is a poisoned comb! You would think by now that our darling Snow White would have the sense to be cautious of strange women, but no! She is a little child so she obviously lets the Evil Queen comb her hair with the damn thing and falls unconscious. Luckily (AGAIN) the dwarfs have the sense to take the damn thing out of her hair and she is awake again. Seems so far that the Queens magic is about equal to that of 2 bottles of Jaggermeister.
Finally the Queen makes the dang apple. Half red (poison) half white (safe). The queen convinces Snow White that it is safe to eat by eating the white half herself. Seems Snow White is still as daft and trusting as ever because she falls for this and is “dead”.
Now we get to the Prince. He doesn’t kiss the beautiful seven year old as Disney tells us. He drags her glass coffin away, with the hopes of looking at it everyday like some funkopop on a bookshelf. Only when his servants stubbles while carrying the coffin does the apple piece pop out of Snow Whites mouth and she is alive and well AGAIN.
Prince immediately proposes (again, she is 7. Euuuw) and they plan the wedding.
The last little twist in this story is that the Queen does attend the wedding and Snow White has a vengeful little heart because she has the Queen wear iron shoes that were shoved into burning coals! The Queen was then forced to dance in them until she fell down dead! Yikes!
Let us move on to Cinderella! Among others, there are French, Greek and Chinese versions of this story, the one closest to the story we all know was published in French by Charles Perrault. I will focus on the Grimm Story as well as that of the Italian Giambattista Basile.
In the Basile version “The cat Cinderella”, Cinderella’s name is Zezolla and is a real princess. She has a governess (Carmosina) who seems to love her very much (Although she puts wasps in her hears when she is tired of listening to Zezolla!). When Zezolla is being abused by the step-mom, Carmosina suggest that she trick the old bag into getting her some old rags from a big chest and the snap her neck with the lid! All this so Zezolla can then convince her father to marry Carmosina. The plan goes off without a hitch.
New Step mom has not two, but six daughters! And soon she stops treating Zezolla kindly and tries to get her new hubby to love her own daughters more than Zezolla, whose name was now changed to “Cat Cinderella”.
So her dad goes to see some fairies on a trip and gets her a date tree and some fancy stuff to cultivate it. When he gets home, this tree grows to an adult woman’s height in 4 days! Turns out it is a magic tree and if she wants something she just needs to strip naked and say a poem, uhhm ok.
Now the ball is a feast and it lasts 3 days. Things go roughly as we know it. After the King finds her shoe, he declares that there be a feast like no other where he fit the shoe on every woman there. There were 2 days of this shenanigans coz daddy dearest didn’t bring his only real daughter to the feast till ordered to do so. When the shoe sees Zezolla, it literally flies onto her foot! And they lived happily ever after.
If that wasn’t weird enough, the Grimm story is much more gruesome. But the worst part of all is Cinderella’s own father. Who is very much alive and complete trash. When Stepmom and (Not ugly, but quite beautiful) stepsisters start calling her Cinderella because she has to sleep by the fire and dig in ashes, he joins in on the fun. Cindy doesn’t even have her own room! She sleeps on the floor, is treated like a slave and her dad thinks this is just hunkey dorey!
In this version, it is again a magic tree that provides Cindy with all the stuff she needs (and some birds). And the ball is a festival that lasts three days.
Cinderella begs her stepmom to let her go and she keeps giving the poor girl impossible chores to do in the ashes in impossible time frames with the promise of letting her join if she completes it. Thanks to magic and birds Cinderella does what is asked in record time (twice). But evil stepmoms are evil and still says Cinderella would be an embarrassment and must stay at home (where is daddy dearest in all this!?).
So Cindy goes to the tree, gets some nice clothes and goes off to the festival. When time comes to leave, the Prince wants to escort her home to see “to whom the beautiful girl belonged” (hard eye-roll). But our girl Cindy does not want her cover blown. Thus makes a hard left and jumps into a pigeon coop (smooth). Prince waits until Cinderella’s dad comes walking past and tells him what happened. Dad thinks to himself ”Could this be Cinderella” and proceeds to chop down the pigeon coop. Thankfully Cindy had slid down the back and is now in her garbage clothes at home by the ashes.
For the other 2 days of the festival, Cinderella kept going with help from the tree and each night she dodged the prince when he tried to find out where she lived. On the third night, however, the Prince was tired of her climbing into things to escape him and laid a trap of pitch on the ground. As Cindy ran she left behind a solid gold slipper.
So next day prince is determined to marry whoever this shoe fits (does he not remember what her damn face looks like!). Each of the step sisters sneak into a room to try the shoe on (suspicious much?) and the first ones problem is that her big toe is too big (So her mother tells her to chop it off!). For the second girl her heel is to big (so her mother tells her to slice some off!). With both of these girls the prince seems satisfied that the shoe fits and tries to take them to the castle. When he passes the magic tree, the doves sing to him that there is blood in the shoe and it’s not who he is looking for. He then notices the masses of blood and takes the girl home. How he fell for this twice is beyond me. Finally they call for Cinderella. That dad protest and calls her deformed (#DadOfTheYear) but she tries on the shoe anyway. Not in a room, since she doesn’t have one, but in front of everyone like a normal human. Obviously it fits. She is happy, prince is happy and the damn singing doves are happy. The sisters get one eye poked out each by some birds at the wedding, so they have deformed feat and one blind eye each while step mom and dad get off scot free. Not fair!! At least there was no almost cannibalism in this story!
Lastly I bring your attention to the little mermaid. Originally written by Danish Hans Christian Andersen. This is DEFINITLY not meant for kids. First up, each of the sea Kings six daughters may only visit the surface once they turn 15. The ones that are old enough to go, like to sing to ship crew during horrid storms about how nice it is under the sea and they shouldn’t fear joining them. Slightly Creepy. Now when the youngest is old enough to go, she saves a Prince from a storm and gets obsessed with him. Her grandmother tells her that even though mermaids can live for up to 300 years, when they die they turn to sea foam. They also have no soul. The only way for them to get a soul is get a human to love them more than anything else and to marry them (thus the humans soul lives in the Mermaid as well). Now our little mermaid is really jealous of this soul business and wants one to. She seeks out a sea witch and she agrees to give her legs. The catch is that even though she will seem supremely graceful, it will feel as if she is stepping on knife blades with every step. Furthermore, she can never be a mermaid again. If the Prince marries someone else, the little mermaids heart will break and she will turn to sea foam. Plus the witch does not just take her voice (the witch needs that and her own blood to make the draught) but she also cuts out the mermaids tongue. If this witch wasn’t strange enough, she also takes pride in cleanliness and ties her snakes in a knot to clean her pot with.
Once she has legs, she meets the Prince and he clothes her and cares for her. He loves her very much, but like a small child (Even though he is only a year older than her, thus also a dang child), and not like a future wife. Nothing our little mermaid does helps and the Prince is set on marrying some other beauty he believes to be the person who saved him. But on the day of the wedding, the Mermaids sisters come to her with heads as bald as Dwayne Johnson. They had given their hair to the witch to try help their sister. They give her a blade and tell her that if she can sink it into the princes’ heart before the sun comes up and his blood flows onto her feet, then she will have a tail again and be a proper mermaid who can go back to live with her family. She agrees, but when she sees the princes’ face she realises she can’t do it. She tosses the knife into the sea, and jumps into the water herself just in time to turn to sea foam. The story ends with the mermaid now being “A daughter of air” and if she can do enough good deeds (Cooling people off on a hot day and so forth) in 300 years, then she can earn a human soul.
So you see that the stories we idealized as children are not all Disney made them out to be.
In case I did not leave your childhood memories sufficiently scared, I will end on this note:
- Peter Pan killed the lost boys as they aged.
- Geppetto is accused of child abuse and hung from a tree.
- The frog is slammed into a wall by the princess to turn him back into a prince.
- Rapunzel becomes pregnant and the Prince has his eyes gouged out by thorns.
Born in Bloemfontein, raised in Hungary and ruined in Gauteng, Princess Paprika brings her unique life experience to everything she does. She has a degree in Theatre/Acting and has been working as a host and MC for 5 years.
Ildi likes to unpack the weird and wonderful putting her unique spin on things.