Sleeping Beauty (French: La Belle au Bois dormant, "The Beauty asleep in the wood") is a classic fairy tale which involves a beautiful princess and a handsome prince. It is the first in the set published in 1697 by Charles Perrault, Contes de ma Mère l'Oye ("Tales of Mother Goose").
While Perrault's version is better known, an older version, the tale "Sun, Moon, and Talia", was contained in Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone, published in 1634. The most familiar Sleeping Beauty in the English speaking world has become the 1959 Walt Disney animated film, which draws as much from Tchaikovsky's ballet (premiered at Saint Petersburg in 1890) as it does from Perrault.
The basic elements of Perrault's narrative are in two parts. Some folklorists believe that they were originally separate tales, as they became afterward in the Grimms' version, and were joined together by Basile, and Perrault following him.
At the christening of a long-wished-for princess, fairies invited as godmothers offered gifts, such as beauty, wit, and musical talent. However, a wicked fairy who had been overlooked placed the princess under an enchantment as her gift, saying that, on reaching adulthood, she would prick her finger on a spindle and die. A good fairy, though unable to completely reverse the spell, said that the princess would instead sleep for a hundred years, until awakened by the kiss of a prince and true love's first kiss.
The king forbade spinning on distaff or spindle, or the possession of one, upon pain of death, throughout the kingdom, but all in vain. When the princess was fifteen or sixteen she chanced to come upon an old woman in a tower of the castle, who was spinning. The Princess asked to try the unfamiliar task and the inevitable happened. The wicked fairy's curse was fulfilled. The good fairy returned and put everyone in the castle to sleep. A forest of briars sprang up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world: no one could try to penetrate it without facing certain death in the thorns.
After a hundred years had passed, a prince who had heard the story of the enchantment braved the wood, which parted at his approach, and entered the castle. He trembled upon seeing the princess's beauty and fell on his knees before her. He kissed her, then she woke up, then everyone in the castle woke to continue where they had left off... and, in modern versions, starting with the Brothers Grimm version, they all lived happily ever after.
Secretly wed by the re-awakened Royal almoner, the Prince John continued to visit the Princess, who bore him two children, L'Aurore (Dawn) and Le Jour (Day), which he kept secret from his mother, who was of an Ogre lineage. Once he had ascended to the throne, he brought his wife and the children to his capital, which he then left in the regency of the Queen Mother, while he went to make war on his neighbor the Emperor Contalabutte ("Count of The Mount").
There was a tearful secret reunion in the cook's little house, while the Queen Mother was satisfied with a hind prepared with sauce Robert. Soon she discovered the trick and prepared a tub in the courtyard filled with vipers and other noxious creatures. The King returned in the nick of time and the Ogress, being discovered, threw herself into the pit she had prepared and was consumed, and everyone else lived happily ever after.
Beside differences in tone, the most notable differences in the plot is that the sleep did not stem from a curse, but was prophesied; that the king did not wake Talia from the sleep with a kiss, but raped her, and when she gave birth to two children, one sucked on her finger, drawing out the piece of flax that had put her to sleep, which woke her; and that the woman who resented her and tried to eat her and her children was not the king's mother but his jealous wife. The mother-in-law's jealousy is less motivated, although common in fairy tales.
There are earlier elements that contributed to the tale, in the medieval courtly romance Perceforest (published in 1528), in which a princess named Zellandine falls in love with a man named Troylus. Her father sends him to perform tasks to prove himself worthy of her, and while he is gone, Zellandine falls into an enchanted sleep. Troylus finds her and impregnates her in her sleep; when their child is born, he draws from her finger the flax that caused her sleep. She realizes from the ring he left her that the father was Troylus; he returns after his adventures to marry her.
Earlier influences come from the story of the sleeping Brynhild in the Volsunga saga and the tribulations of saintly female martyrs in early Christian hagiography conventions. It was, in fact, the existence of Brynhild that persuaded the Brothers Grimm to include the story in latter editions of their work rather than eliminate it, as they did to other works they deemed to be purely French, stemming from Perrault's work.
The second half, where the princess and her children are almost put to death, but hidden instead, may have been influenced by St. Genevieve.
The princess's name has been unstable. In Sun, Moon, and Talia, she is named Talia ("Sun" and "Moon" being her twin children). Perrault removed this, leaving her anonymous, although naming her daughter "L'Aurore". The Brothers Grimm named her "Briar Rose" in their 1812 collection. This transfer was taken up by Disney in the film, which also called her Aurora. John Stejean named her "Rosebud" in TeleStory Presents.
The Brothers Grimm included a variant, Briar Rose, in their collection (1812). It truncates the story as Perrault and Basile told it to the ending now generally known: the arrival of the prince concludes the tale. Some translations of the Grimm tale give the princess the name Rosamond. The brothers considered rejecting the story on the grounds that it was derived from Perrault's version, but the presence of the Brynhild tale convinced them to include it as an authentically German tale. Still, it is the only known German variant of the tale, and the influence of Perrault is almost certain.
The Brothers Grimm also included, in the first edition of their tales, a fragmentary fairy tale, The Evil Mother-in-Law. This began with the heroine married and the mother of two children, as in the second part of Perrault's tale, and her mother-in-law attempted to eat first the children and then the heroine. Unlike Perrault's version, the heroine herself suggested an animal be substituted in the dish, and the fragment ends with the heroine's worry that she can not keep her children from crying, and so from coming to the attention of the mother-in-law. Like many German tales showing French influence, it appeared in no subsequent edition.
Italo Calvino included a variant in Italian Folktales. The cause of her sleep is an ill-advised wish by her mother: she wouldn't care if her daughter died of pricking her finger at fifteen, if only she had a daughter. As in Pentamerone, she wakes after the prince raped her in her sleep, and her children are born and one sucks on her finger, pulling out the prick that had put her to sleep. He preserves that the woman who tries to kill the children is the king's mother, not his wife, but adds that she does not want to eat them herself but serves them to the king. His version came from Calabria, but he noted that all Italian versions closely followed Basile's.
The hostility of the king's mother to his new bride is repeated in the fairy tale The Six Swans, and also features The Twelve Wild Ducks, where she is modified to be the king's stepmother, but these tales omit the cannibalism.
Some folklorists have analyzed Sleeping Beauty as indicating the replacement of the lunar year (with its thirteen months, symbolically depicted by the full thirteen fairies) by the solar year (which has twelve, symbolically the invited fairies). This, however, founders on the issue that only in the Grimms' tale is the wicked fairy the thirteenth fairy; in Perrault's, she is the eighth.
Among familiar themes and elements in Perrault's tale:
Sleeping Beauty has been popular for many fairytale fantasy retellings. These include Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novel The Gates of Sleep; Robin McKinley's Spindle's End, Orson Scott Card's Enchantment, Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, Sophie Masson's Clementine, and Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.
The curse of the fairy godmother, by itself, has been taken from the tale and used in many contexts. George MacDonald used it in his Sleeping Beauty parody, The Light Princess, where the evil fairy godmother curses the princess not to death but to lack gravity — leaving her both lacking in physical weight and unable to take other people's suffering seriously. In Andrew Lang's Prince Prigio, the queen, who does not believe in fairies, does not invite them; the fairies come anyway and give good gifts, except for the last one, who says that he shall be "too clever" — and the problems with such a gift are only revealed later. In Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a princess laments that she wasn't cursed at her christening. When another character points out that many princesses aren't (even in the Chronicles' fairy-tale setting), she complains that in her case the wicked fairy did come to the christening, "had a wonderful time," and left the princess with no way to assume her proper, fairy-tale role.
Angela Carter's "The Bloody Chamber" provides a postmodern retelling of Sleeping Beauty entitled "The Lady of the House of Love". Although she deviates significantly from the original subject matter she keeps intact what she terms the "latent content", for example though not actually asleep there are repeated references to the protagonist existing as a somnambulist . The story follows the life of a Transylvanian vampire condemned by her fate until a young soldier arrives who, through his innocence, frees her from her curse.
Waking Rose is a modern-day take on the story. The heroine, Rose (named after Briar Rose), is put into a coma; she has to be saved by her boyfriend from two doctors who want to euthanize her after she had previously discovered that they illegally killed people to sell their organs off the black market. It is not posted on the Surlalune website, although other books of the series are.
Annaliese Evans' "Night's Rose" continues to play on the same elements from part two of Sleeping Beauty. Where the heroine, Rosemarie Edenberg (the princess) has her mind set on wiping out the entire orgre tribe. Through her journey she is joined by her fairy advisor Ambrose Nuit and a Vampire Lord Gareth Shenley.
The Puerto Rican writer, Rosario Ferré, has a story entitled, "Sleeping Beauty", in her collection of stories, "The Youngest Doll." The story deals with a lot of the elements found in the fairy tale.
Before Tchaikovsky's version, several ballet productions were based on the "sleeping beauty" theme, amongst which one from Eugène Scribe: in the winter of 1828–1829, the French playwright furnished a four-act mimed scenario as a basis for Aumer's choreography of a four-act ballet-pantomime La Belle au Bois Dormant. Scribe wisely omitted the violence of the second part of Perrault's tale for the ballet, which was set by Hérold and first staged at the Académie Royale in Paris on 27 April 1829. Though Hérold popularized his piece with a piano Rondo brilliant based on themes from the music, he was not successful in getting the ballet staged again.
When Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the Director of the Imperial Theatres in Saint Petersburg, wrote to Tchaikovsky on 25 May 1888, suggesting a ballet based on Perrault's tale, he also cut the violent second half, climaxed the action with the Awakening Kiss, and followed with a conventional festive last act, a series of bravura variations.
Although Tchaikovsky was maybe not all that eager to compose a new ballet (remembering that the reception of his Swan Lake ballet music, staged eleven seasons earlier, had only been lukewarm), he set to work with Vsevolovzhsky's scenario. The ballet, with Tchaikovsky's music (his Opus 66) and choreography by Marius Petipa, was premiered in the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre on 24 January 1890.
Besides being Tchaikovsky's first major success in ballet composition, it set a new standard for what is now called "Classical Ballet", and remained one of the all time favourites in the whole of the ballet repertoire. Sleeping Beauty was the first ballet that impresario Sergei Diaghilev ever saw, he later recorded in his memoirs, and also the first that ballerinas Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova ever saw, and the ballet that introduced the Russian dancer Rudolph Nureyev to European audiences. Diaghilev staged the ballet himself in 1921 in London with the Ballets Russes. Choreographer George Balanchine made his stage debut as a gilded Cupid sitting on a gilded cage, in the last act divertissements.
The band Alesana also has a song related to Sleeping Beauty called "The Uninvited Thirteenth" which is on the their album Where Myth Fades to Legend. "It's in the point of view of the uninvited thirteenth and the prince. Many princes before him had tried to wake Sleeping Beauty up but before they could reach her they got pierced by the thorns. The uninvited thirteenth is talking about revenge and killing the both of them. As for the prince is talking about saving her and how he struggles to pass the thorns. In the end he reaches her and kisses her. His prize is his darling Rosamond."
The Walt Disney Productions animated feature Sleeping Beauty was released on 29 January 1959 by Buena Vista Distribution. Disney spent nearly a decade working on the film, which was produced in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen film process with a stereophonic soundtrack. The film cost six million U.S. dollars to produce. Its musical score and songs are adapted from Tchaikovsky's ballet. This tale includes three good fairies - Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather - and one evil fairy, Maleficent. As in most Disney films, there are considerable changes made to the plot. For example, it is Maleficent herself that appears in the upper tower of the castle and creates the spinning wheel and spindle on which the princess, Aurora (called Briar Rose by Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather in the years prior to the event), pricks her finger. The princess' hair is also changed from dark brown, as in Perrault's original book, to blonde. The princess has been described as Disney's most beautiful heroine, and while it has been observed that "comparisons of this statuesque blonde to the contemporaneous Barbie doll are difficult to avoid," all the sequences of the film were first filmed in live action.
Sleeping Beauty as a sculpture.
"He stands—he stoops to gaze—he kneels—he wakes her with a kiss", woodcut by Walter Crane
"Sleeping Beauty" by Edward Frederick Brewtnall
Princess Aurora/Briar Rose (voice) - Mary Costa
Prince Phillip (voice) - Bill Shirley
Maleficent (voice) - Eleanor Audley
Flora (voice) - Verna Felton
Merryweather (voice) - Barbara Luddy
Fauna (voice) - Barbara Jo Allen
Stefan (voice) - Taylor Holmes
Hubert (voice) - Bill Thompson
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Sleeping Beauty is a classic fairy tale. An early variant by the Italian was published in 1634, but the most famous version was first written by Charles Perrault under the title of La Belle au bois dormant ("The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood"). This story was later retold by the Brothers Grimm under the title of Dornröschen ("Little Briar-Rose").
May contain spoilers!
====Part One==== A king and a queen have a baby girl. They invite fairies to her christening. Unfortunately, they forgot to invite an old fairy and so the old fairy places a curse on the princess. She says that she will one day prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and will die. Fortunately, one of the good fairies changes the curse so that instead, the princess shall sleep for a hundred years and be discovered by the prince of her dreams. The king also bans spinning wheels, but nonetheless, his daughter finds a spinning wheel when she is sixteen and falls into the deep sleep. The good fairy also puts everyone in the castle to sleep and covers the castle with a thorny forest. A hundred years later, a prince discovers the castle and the princess. He kisses the sleeping princess, and she wakes up. They fall in love so they live happily ever afters...
Most versions of the story that are told today end when the princess wakes up, but Perrault writes about something scary that happened to the princess and her new children. The prince goes off to fight in a war and his wife and children stay with his mother, who is an ogress. The queen wants to eat the princess and her three children but her servants helps save the two children. He gives the ogress some normal meat and tells her that they are the princess and her children. The ogress believes this but she finds out that she has been tricked. She plans to push her daughter-in-law and grandchildren into a pit of nasty snakes. But the prince arrives just in time and the queen does not kill his wife and children. She throws herself into the pit instead and dies.
A Russian ballet with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was first performed in 1890. The music for the ballet has become very famous. At the end of the ballet, characters from other fairy tales by Charles Perrault attend the wedding of the prince and princess.
In 1959, Walt Disney made an animated film based on the fairy tale. The film and the original story have differences. In this version, the princess is called Aurora, the prince is called Philip and the evil fairy is called Maleficant. The princess only sleeps for a little while before she is kissed by the prince and the pair meet in the forest beforehand. The good fairies (whose names are Flora, Fauna and Merryweather) also provide comic moments throughout the film. The music from Tchaikovsky's ballet is used in the film.