may_lily: (Rapunzel and Pascal)
may_lily ([personal profile] may_lily) wrote2013-06-06 12:31 pm

Rapunzel and the White Cat

From my tumblr.

Were the Grimms influenced in some way by Madame d’Aulnoy’s ‘The White Cat’ when they wrote Rapunzel?

One of the odd parts of Rapunzel is the ladder that she tries to make. She asks the prince to bring a bit of silk every time he comes which she weaves to make a ladder. But why on earth couldn’t the prince bring a whole rope ladder at once?

The ladder isn’t in La Force’s Persinette or Friedrich Schulz’s translation (which is where the Grimms got Rapunzel from). Another fairy tale that does include a maiden in a tower making a rope ladder, however, is Madame d’Aulnoy’s The White Cat.

This princess doesn’t have that extraordinarily long hair, so the king can’t come up to visit her. They’re stuck looking at each other, him on the ground and her from the window, and sending messages via her pet parrot. The princess decides to make a rope ladder to get out. This time, it’s not the king who provides the twine, but her fairy captor. She can’t get as much as she needs all at once or the fairy will get suspicious - she tells her that she wants to make nets to catch the birds that are spoiling her garden, so she can only get a bit at a time.

Admittedly, once the ladder is done they act less sensibly - instead of fleeing right away the king comes to see her, they spend the night enjoying each others’ company, and in the morning the king leaves and the princess stays. But I find the making of the ladder, at least, to make more sense in The White Cat than in Rapunzel.

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