Comparison Essay Sample
In this paper I would like to compare Robert Coover’s “Briar Rose” with the other versions, which he used for his work, including “Sun, Moon and Thalia” by Giambattista Basile, “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” by Charles Perrault and “Little Briar-Rose” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Robert Coover’s “Briar Rose” appears to be the post-modern adaptation variant of the fairy tale, in which emphasis is made upon certain parts of the tale, while particular events are simply omitted. His novella is mostly concentrated upon following subjects- the sleeping lady in the castle, the prince that tries to reach her from outside and Rose’s fairy companion with whom she spoke while asleep. His perspective is rather interesting as it opens new horizons of understanding this fairy-tale. I must say that tales by Basile, Perrault and Brothers Grimm also differ from each other, and in order to explore what part of the story Coover chooses to tell and the way he tells the story, it is necessary to investigate in the differences of primary “sources”.
Gianbattista Basile when telling the story of the Sleeping Beauty calls her Thalia. He is not very much concentrated upon her birth and how she had fallen asleep. He tells in details about her sleeping in the castle and relationships with king. Interesting thing, that king appeared to be married and he laid with Thalia when she was asleep. She gave birth to two little pretty children, who finally woke her up by mixing up nipples, which they wanted to suckle, with her fingers and they sucked so much that the splinter of flax came out and she woke up. So, king had no relation to the actual process of waking up. Then, it was problem with king’s wife, who wanted to eat children for dinner and kill Thalia, but she didn’t succeeded and finally king and Thalia lived long and happy life. This story seems very strange to tell children.
In “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” by Charles Perrault appears a very old fairy that was not invited to the celebration of the birth and it was she who made a curse (in previous variant with Thalia, there were astrologers and wise men who composed horoscope and predicted such future). Then the story goes a bit the same, with the difference that prince married Rose and took her to his palace, where his mother Queen lived (by the time, father King was already dead). In the palace Rose also gave birth to two children- the daughter named Morning and the son named Day. When prince went out for some war, his mother decided to eat children and kill Rose. Finally, it was mother Queen who was killed and Rose, her children and prince lived long and happy life.
“Little Brier-Rose” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm seems to be the shortened and the most peaceful version of this fairy tale, but also with some peculiarities. When king and queen had no children it was crab who predicted that queen would finally have a daughter. And as in the story of Perrault there was a fairy that was not invited to the celebration (by the way, the reason for not inviting was not that she was very old, but the quantity of golden plates that was only twelve) and she made the curse and as soon as the curse happened, everyone fall asleep immediately (and that was not a good fairy as in the story of Perrault who made everyone sleep so that when Rose woke up, she was not lonely and hopeless). Interesting note is that there were many princes who wanted to wake her up, but only the one had enough strength to do this. The story ends with no children and just prince and Brier-Rose living long and happy life. Brothers Grimm gave mercy upon their personages and left all bad feelings and passions back.
Returning to the Coover’s interpretation, it is necessary to mention that author investigates deep in the matter of things. He introduces an idea of mixture of a reality and dreams, as readers are left confused about what is real and what is not in this tale. And the Sleeping Beauty herself cannot distinguish upon the reality and what she is imagining to herself in dreams. "She awakens to repeated awakenings as through trapped in some strange mechanism, and she longs to bring it to a standstill, to put an end once and for all to all disquiet, even if it means to sleep again and sleep a dreamless sleep" (Coover 78).
Coover envisions the Sleeping Beauty as a metaphor that means that it is the symbol of inspiration and creative potential of every person, which is predominantly sleeping and had to be woken up by strong will and power. Prince outside the castle can be the symbol of that power, or he can be just an artist or writer who wants to reach and obtain inspiration to create masterpieces. At first he is very confident in his desire to reach the princess, but step-by-step he began to lose his faith. "Perhaps, he thinks with a shudder, I have not been chosen after all. Perhaps... Perhaps I am not the one" (Coover 22). The theme of self-identification is also present in the story, as when speaking with fairy companion, Rose often asks about who she is. "What am I? Why this curse of an endless stupor and its plague of kissing suitors?" (Coover 12).This circumstances were not dependant on her personal desire and she has no power to fix something, she has just to obey.
Rose and her fairy companion when spending time together in her dreams are constantly retelling the story of the sleeping beauty. Rose is constantly arguing and claims that in real life the story of sleeping beauty cannot exist. “Rose is not amused by the story. It was nothing like that, she complains. What do you know about it you silly creature? demands the fairy. It is not easy, keeping this going for a hundred years, and she does not appreciate her charge's dismissive attitude. It just doesn't sound right, Rose says. Real stories aren't like that. Real princes aren't” (Coover 51).
In the conclusion I would like mention that children and adults percept thing in a different way. Children see things as they are; adults are inclined to analysis and attempt to understand the meaning. Fairy-tales are primarily for children, I am for kind and happy ones without adulteries and murders.
Coover in his novella revealed an unexpected side of the fairy-tale, which appeared to be very interesting not only for comparative analysis, but also for informational purposes.
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