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Sleeping Beauty reversed - sort of


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This is an Icelandic tale entitled “Prince Hlini and Signy.”  It is along similar lines to “Sleeping  Beauty,” except that the sleeping beauty - Hlini - is male and the one who saves him -Signy - is female.  The story is not very long and can be found here: https://steelthistles.blogspot.com/2020/09/strong-fairy-tale-heroines-29-prince.html.  If you would rather you can read my summary of the tale under “spoilers.”

 

Spoiler

One day the Prince Hlini went missing while out hunting with his men.  No, one could find him.  His father the king was so upset that he offered half of his kingdom to anyone who could find Hlini.  Signy was the daughter of a crofter.  A crofter is a person who works a small farm (a croft), possibly as a tenant, so Signy and her family were poor.  When Signy heard that the king was offering half his kingdom to anyone who could find his son, the young woman decided to try.  She walked into the forest and came to a cave.  In the cave she found the prince sleeping in a bed.  Signy tried to wake him, but couldn’t.  Hearing someone or something entering the cave Signy hid and saw two female giants (“giantess”) enter the cave.  The youngest giantess went to the prince and said “Sing, sing, my swans/Sing Prince Hlini awake.”  With that the swans (I don’t know where they came from) started singing and the prince woke up.  The young giantess asked Hlini two questions - if he wanted something to eat and if he would marry her.  Prince Hlini said no to both questions and then the giantess put him back to sleep again.  The next morning this happened again and when Hlini again answered no to both questions he was put back to sleep.  The giantesses then left the cave.  Signy who had been in the cave all night and who had seen all of this woke the prince up.  The remainder of the tale involves Signy coming up with a plan and directing Hlini to do certain things.  They escape from the cave and bring treasure that they found there to Signy’s home.  When the young woman brings the prince to his father the king grants her half the kingdom.  So, now Signy is richer than the king or the prince as she has half the kingdom and treasure from the cave.  Despite this she marries the prince, maybe because he is so beautiful.  Some may be tempted to call this tale “Sleeping Handsome,” but I would call it “Sleeping Beauty” for I feel a male can be beautiful just like a female can be.    

Tom,

 

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One of two things I like about the tale of “Prince Hlini and Signy” is that it switches the gender roles, with the male being the helpless one (the “damsel” in distress) and the female, Signy, being the one who saves him.  The other is that the most active characters, the ones that move the story along, are all female - Signy and the two Giantesses.  While the prince does some things it is only at the direction of Signy.  Also, Signy did not have to marry the prince to be rewarded.  She married him because she wanted to and I surmised it was because he was so beautiful.  I pointed out that the story could still be called “Sleeping Beauty” because a male can be beautiful.

This does not mean that the story of the ballet “The Sleeping Beauty” does not have strong, active female characters.  The two most active characters in the ballet are the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse.  They are the ones who move the story along.  In the prolog the Lilac Fairy counters Carabosse’s curse; in the first act she puts all to sleep, in the second act she brings the Prince to Aurora's bed and she is the guest of honor in the third act.  This also is the case in the Disney movie “Sleeping Beauty.”  Aurora/Briar Rose is very passive, but it is the three good fairies that actively save her and bring the prince to her.  The good fairies also fight the evil fairy. Here is a short video (4 minute) - a spoof on the Disney movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k8ZbajJ6bs.  

Tom,

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Diane, thank you for your positive comment.  I like to know who reads my posts and if the links are of any use.

Tom,

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