Sunday, October 26, 2014

Man or Monster?

Once upon a time, there were two princesses. One was the spoiled but beautiful youngest daughter of a king, and the other was a kind and beautiful youngest daughter of a king. Both eventually find their happy ending, after finding that their monster is really a handsome prince or god, but the means by which they achieve their happily ever after is very different.

In the story of Cupid and Psyche, the princess Psyche is said to be more beautiful than the
goddess Venus herself. This draws the wrath of to fall upon the girl, but instead of everything going to plan (in which the girl falls in love with a monster), Venus’ son Cupid scratches himself with his own arrow and falls in love with the princess. Soon, the oracle of Apollo decrees that the princess will marry one who many call a monster. Her sorrowing parents leave Psyche on a mountain, where she is escorted to a palace that belongs to her groom. She is only with her husband at night, but never sees his face. Eventually, after her jealous sisters convince her that her unseen husband may be a monster that will eat her, the princess looks at him. She discovers that he is not a monster, but Cupid. However, he flies away from her, and she has to work hard to redeem herself. Eventually, the two lovers are reunited and both live happily ever after.

This story is slightly similar to The Frog King, in which the princess is forced to deal with a sort of “monster”, in this instance a frog. This princess is described as so beautiful that even the sun marveled at her. One day, when she drops her gold ball into a well, a frog agrees to fetch it for her as long as the girl promises to let him live as her companion. After he gives her the ball, though, the princess runs off. The frog follows her, and when he tells the king of the princess’ promise, the king forces his youngest daughter to keep that promise. The frog sits next to her, eats from her plate, and is carried by the princess to her room. However, when he demands to sleep next to her she angrily throws him against the wall. The ugly frog is transformed into a handsome prince, and the princess happily agrees to be his bride, and they live happily ever after.

The similarities between the tales lie in the fact that both protagonists are the youngest daughters, and are forced to be with someone they believe to be a monster. However, the two deal with their situations in very different ways. Psyche tries to sneak a look at her husband, and does not mean any harm to him unless he tries to attack her. She then faithfully tries to make up for this by completing the tasks that Venus sets for her. In contrast, the princess in the Frog King story tries to defy her father, and flings the frog at the wall in an attempt to be rid of him.

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