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may_lily: (Rapunzel's hair)
Saturday, June 8th, 2013 11:52 am
From my tumblr.

It’s the eternally puzzling question: why did the witch lock the maiden in the tower?

Neither Rapunzel nor Petrosinella offer any explanation. La Force’s Persinette, however, does, though it raises more questions.

Before Persinette reached the age of twelve, she was a marvel to behold, and since the fairy was fully aware of what fate had in store for her, she decided to shield her from her destiny.

But what was Persinette’s fate? Possibly unwed pregnancy. Once the fairy realises that Persinette’s pregnant, she says:

“You’ve made a great mistake, and you’re going to be punished for it. Fate has had its way, and all the precautions I took were in vain.”

Was Persinette actually unmarried though? Here’s the prince once he makes his way into the tower:

Finally, he became bolder and proposed to marry her right then and there, and she consented without hardly knowing what she was doing. Even so, she was able to complete the ceremony.

Is this just a euphemism for sex, or were they genuinely married? I know that in some times and places, all that was required was the two participants declaring that they were married. I don’t know if that was the case in 17th century France. Aulnoy’s The White Cat has a similar scene with the prince and the princess declaring marriage in a tower, with the princess’s pet dog and parrot as witnesses.

I wonder if the fairy foresaw something more in Persinette’s fate? Perhaps she saw that Persinette’s suffering would begin with her falling in love with a man. Once she got pregnant, her lover was no longer with her, and she had to raise the children all on her own.

When Oedipus was born, there was a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Every attempt to avert this failed - his parents exposed him, but instead of dying he was adopted. Unaware that he was adopted, he learned of the prophecy and determined to leave his parents in order to avoid it. He fought and killed a stranger that turned out to be his father, and married a woman who turned out to be his mother.

I wonder if, similarly, the fairy tried to avoid Persinette’s suffering, and ended up bringing it about instead? She tries to keep her away from men, knowing that one will be the cause of her suffering. She takes her away from the man she believes is fickle, and punishes him. In the end, seeing the love between the couple, and that he is prepared to remain with her even under the threat of death, she relents and allows them to be together. Could it be that she realised the prophecy had already come to pass?

Undoubtedly there are other explanations for the fairy’s motivation, but I find this one to be interesting. I think she’s a really fascinating character.
may_lily: (Rapunzel and Pascal)
Thursday, June 6th, 2013 12:31 pm
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.
may_lily: (Rapunzel's hair)
Friday, April 19th, 2013 09:33 am
I've started watching Once Upon A Time with my mum. We missed the first season, and we're behind the US - just up to episode 10. Over the last couple of episodes, it's seemed to me that there are similarities between Regina and the fairy/witch of Persinette/Rapunzel.

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may_lily: (Rapunzel's hair)
Saturday, December 29th, 2012 10:36 am
From my tumblr.

Continuing from Forgotten women writers of popular fairy tales.

‘Rapunzel’ began as a literary fairy tale called ‘Persinette’ written by Charlotte-Rose de la Force. There are similar fairy tales that existed before ‘Persinette’ was written, exemplified by Giambattista Basile’s ‘Petrosinella’. ‘Petrosinella’ goes like this: a pregnant woman has a strong desire to eat parsley and steals it from the garden of an ogress. The ogress catches her and demands her baby as payment. When the child, named Petrosinella, is seven, the ogress takes her away and keeps her in a high tower with no doors. She enters the tower by climbing up Petrosinella’s long hair.

Eventually a prince discovers the tower and he and Petrosinella fall in love. They decide to flee and steal three magic acorns from the ogress. As they run, the ogress chases them. They throw back the acorns which turn into wild animals, and a wolf eats the ogress.

Certainly Mlle de la Force based her story on this tale or one related to it, since the first half is more or less identical. The second half, however, is entirely her own. The pregnancy, the haircut, the prince’s fall and blindness, the twins, and the magic tears were all her own invention. This is why I will always refer to the story as Persinette/Rapunzel. Mlle de la Force deserves credit for her creation.

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