Out of my project ideas from last week, my favorite, and the one that I think will work the best for this class is my Damsels in Distress concept. Basically I want to take a few of the ladies from traditional fairy tales and rewrite them so the ladies are given the opportunity to solve their own problems, instead of being given a solution from either magic, luck, or good karma. So here are three stories that I think are good candidates for this project. More might make an appearance or even replace some of these if I find something super cool in the class readings – but we’ll see how it goes!
Bluebeard is a lesser known fairy tale, probably because it’s kind of dark. The premise is that a man who is widowed several times already marries a young woman (possible against her will. I’ve read it both ways). He goes on a trip and leaves her with the keys of the Manor. He tells his young wife that she can go anywhere except the basement. So, obviously, as soon as he leaves the wife runs to the basement and finds the bodies of his previous wives, whom he had murdered for breaking his trust. She is so startled that she drops the keys. When the husband returns he gets his keys back from his wife, but he sees the bloodstain on them from when she dropped them in the basement, and he knows what she did. He threatens to kill her on the spot, but she begs for the privilege of one last prayer. While praying, her brothers arrive for a well timed visit, and they kill the man before he can kill his wife. She inherits the property and they all live happily ever after.
In the version I want to write, the young wife is going to have to use her own wits and cunning to save herself from her husband. There will be no lucky breaks from her husband. I think I’d like to write this in the style of Noir Fiction. I like that opportunities this style has for introspection, because my heroine will definitely have a lot to say to the reader.
I know there are a lot of versions of Rumpelstiltskin floating around, especially with the popularity of the Once Upon A Time TV show (which I really need to catch up on!) but I’m planning on basing this rewrite on the original story. A boastful miller is caught saying that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The prince hears this and locks the poor girl in a room full of straw and tells her that if it isn’t all gold by the next morning, she will either be killed or locked up, depending on the version. Rumpelstiltskin appears and offers to do the impossible task for her, in exchange for her necklace. Then next day the prince is suitable impressed and locks her in another room that night, with the same threat. Again, Rumpelstiltskin takes care of it, this time in return for the girl’s ring. Finally, the prince says if she can repeat the feat for a third nigh, he will marry her. The girls doesn’t have anything else to give Rumpelstiltskin, so she either promises or is tricked into giving up her first born child. 9 months to a year later the baby is born and Rumpelstiltskin comes to claim it. Somehow they strike a deal that if the now-queen can guess his name then she can keep her baby. She discovers it, and Rumpelstiltskin is never seen again.
In keeping with the theme of my project, the queen isn’t going to wait for Rumpelstiltskin to come steal her kid. She is going to be making plans and searching for loopholes before she even becomes pregnant, and she is going to beat Rumpelstiltskin at his own game. I’m not sure what exact writing style I want to use, but I know I want the queen to be very logical and a realist. She won’t waste time on freaking out when she could be figuring out what to do,
Finally, I think I’d like to throw a little traditional Brothers Grimm into this project. I’ll be rewriting the original story (I assume most people know it, so I’m going to skip the plot summary) with the lentils and the three day festival. There won’t be any magical wishing tree or helpful birds ( and I plan on giving the poor girl a better name than Cinderella) but she will be inventive and creative. She’ll discover that her own ingenuity is all she need to get what she wants. I’m, again, not sure what specific writing style to use for his one, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out when the time comes.
Image: Stock photo of “Independent Woman.” Source: Pixabay