Sleeping Beauty is one of many classic tales that has many twisted versions. The most popular version, the one we are most familiar with is the one written by Brother Grimms in 18th century. The earlier versions are however full of shocking plots and various bizarre endings.
Grimm’s version of Sleeping Beauty story is the sweetest and most sanitized. This version is the one adapted by Disney. Long before Grimm Brother write their version, the story of a girl who falls asleep by a curse and wakes up by a kiss had been in oral circulation throughout Europe since13th century. Thisstory is then written by Basile in 16th century and Charles Perrault in 17th century. These earlier versions contain harsh materials of raping and cannibalism.
The Curse - what put Sleeping Beauty to sleep?
In the Grimm’s version, an evil fairy curses Sleeping Beauty because she is not invited to the grand christening ceremony. The evil fairy says that on reaching adulthood sleeping beauty would die after pricking her finger on a spindle. One good fairy manages to soften this curse. Sleeping Beauty will not die; she will only sleep until a true love’s kiss wakes her up. This curse happens and sleeping beauty falls into her slumber.
In the earlier French version as recorded by Perrault in 17th century, Sleeping Beauty is put to sleep not by a curse but because some kind of a prophesy. In this version, Sleeping Beauty is not tricked by the evil fairy into touching the spindle, instead she does it voluntarily.
The Rape - what wakes sleeping beauty from her slumber?
In the Grimm’s version, a handsome prince kisses Sleeping Beauty and awakens her from her sleep. They marry and live happily ever after, how romantic.
In its 13th century version and the one written by Giambatista Basile in 16th century, it is not the kiss that awakens Sleeping Beauty, but the nudging of her children. So the story goes that while Sleeping Beauty lies unconscious, a prince charming comes, not to rescue her, but to rape her. Somehow, Sleeping Beauty is impregnated and giving birth to twins while still sleeping, even the pain of childbirth couldn’t wake her up. After birth, oneof the babies accidently sucks the splinter out of Sleeping Beauty’s finger and breaks the curse. Sleeping beauty wakes up after sleeping for one hundred years only to find that she had been raped and is now a mother of two.
Unfortunately enough for Sleeping Beauty, the prince already married to someone else. The angry wife orders her servant to kill Sleeping Beauty and her children, cook them and serve them in a stew for her husband. Outraged, the prince throws his wife to the fire. And guess what, Sleeping Beauty forgives what the prince had done to her, forgets that he had killed his wife, marries him and the couple can still live happily ever after. How shocking! What kind of moral is this version trying to teach our children?
The Ogress – bizarre ending of the story.
Perrault’s version shares a more less similar line with Basile’s. However, Perrault tries to sanitize it a little bit. In his version, the prince kisses Sleeping Beauty, wakes her up and the two marries. Soon they have two children, a boy and a girl. But it happens that the prince has an ogress who likes to eat human flesh as his mother. So after marrying Sleeping Beauty, the prince keeps his marriage a secret from his mother. When he resumes the throne after his father passes away, the prince has no option other than to announce to the whole kingdom that he has marry. He takes sleeping beauty to his kingdom. When he is away, the mean ogress orders her servant to cook Sleeping Beauty and her children. Luckily the prince is home on time before his mother’s servant carries out her order. The mother kills herself and finally Sleeping Beauty can have a peace in her life with her husband and children. What a long difficult way to a happily-ever-after ending.