Little Briar Rose is a tale you’ve heard before, many times, but you’ve heard it under the name of its alter ego, Sleeping Beauty. The original tale is a bit different from the Disney version we’re used to seeing. We don’t get to see as much danger in the original as we do in the Disney version. Disney really tried to spice things up.
Once upon a time there were a king and a queen. They had no children. Every single day they lamented the fact that they did not have children. This went on for quite some time. One day the queen was bathing, I assume outside. A frog crept out of the water and onto the land. It told the queen, “Your wish shall be fulfilled; before a year has gone by, you shall have a daughter.”
What the frog said, came to pass. The king and queen did have a daughter. They were so grateful and pleased at the idea of a child that they invited practically everybody to celebrate. They invited the wise women as well. The first wise woman gave the baby virtue. The second wise woman gave the baby beauty. The third wise woman gave the baby riches. This went on until eleven of the wise women had given the baby gifts. A thirteenth wise woman barged her way into the room. Apparently, she had not been invited and was quite upset.
Her gift to the baby was not very nice, in fact, it was a curse.
“The king’s daughter shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall down dead.”
This was horrible, of course, but the twelfth wise woman had everyone’s backs. She could not take back the curse, but she could alter it.
“It shall not be death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years , into which the princess shall fall.”
The king tried to keep fate away by burning every spindle in the kingdom. Meanwhile, the young princess had many of her gifts fulfilled. On the very day that the princess turned fifteen, the king and queen were not at home, so the princess went exploring. She opened up every room in the castle. At last she came to a room in a tower where a woman was sitting and spinning. The princess is intrigued with this process because she has never seen it. She asks to see the spindle, but almost as soon as she has the spindle in her hand, she pricks herself. She immediately falls into a deep sleep. Every else in the castle also falls into a deep sleep. The cook, the boy servant, the king and queen who had just gotten home, the court, the cats, the dogs, and all the animals, even the pigeons that roosted on the roof, not even the wind blew. Briars with large thorns grew around the castle to keep it undisturbed.
Over the years many young and brave men had tried to fight their way into the castle. None of them ever made it. The large thorns always caught them up and kept them there. Many young men suffered their deaths in the thorns. The princess had come to be known as Briar Rose. A prince found himself in this kingdom when the hundred years was just about to be up. He heard the tale about the princess in the castle from and old man. The prince was determined to go into the castle to see this princess. The old man could not dissuade him.
By the time the prince got to the castle the large thorns had turned into flowers and they parted the way for him. He went into the castle. He saw every creature asleep. The flies were asleep on the wall the cook was asleep standing over a roasting joint( it’s not what you think). He kept going deeper and deeper into the castle until he found the tower room were Briar Rose was sleeping.
The prince thought Briar Rose was awfully pretty lying there asleep. He couldn’t resist giving her a kiss. As soon as he did kiss her she woke up. After Briar Rose woke up everyone else woke up. Briar Rose was married to the prince and they lived in contentment for the rest of their days.
Or is it?
This is a sanitized version of this story. In other versions of this story Briar Rose is not woken by a kiss, but by her newborn children trying to suckle on her breasts. You might be thinking, “But wait that means that…” Yes, it does mean exactly what you’re thinking. In some versions of this tale Briar Rose was not awoken by a kiss, but was deflowered and subsequently knocked up only to wake up after the birth of twins. So the prince did stuff to Briar Rose while she was sleeping. The thirteenth fairy created the ultimate date-rape curse.
You will, of course, be more familiar with the Disney version in which the princess is sent away with three good fairies to kind from the spindle. You will also remember Maleficient and the other things going on in that tale. That just doesn’t happen here.
You will also notice that this prince doesn’t do a darn thing, but kiss her and the kiss didn’t even do anything. The curse does not say that Briar Rose will wake up once she is kissed. It says she will wake up after a hundred years. It was exactly a hundred years when the prince kissed Briar Rose. That was why she woke up, not because she was kissed.
The curse does not say that everyone will go to sleep, but everyone does go to sleep. Obviously, we’ve lost something from the tale over the years.
We don’t find out what happens to this disgruntled wise woman. She isn’t punished. I don’t honestly think she’s that bad. The story does not denote her as the evil wise woman, it just groups her in with the rest of the wise women. She just didn’t get invited for whatever reason. Maybe her invitation got lost in the mail or the delivery boy suddenly quit to pursue his true passion of being a mermaid and threw his bag of mail into the sea. I don’t really know. This story doesn’t say anything about this wise woman being a bad person before she speaks this terrible curse upon an infant. In the end, she was probably miffed that everyone got invited but her.
Remember the episode of Spongebob Squarepants where Spongebob was giving all these awesome presents to practically everybody, but Patrick’s present was delayed so Spongebob improvised and gave Patick a handshake? Patrick was beginning to feel rather left out. Everyone had all these awesome presents, but he just had a handshake. I mention this episode of Spongebob to illustrate a point, people can be awfully hurt if they are the only person left out of something.
Does anyone not think it’s weird that Briar Rose is going to be a lot older than her new husband? That’s a huge age difference. Really Briar Rose didn’t really live that time, but it’s still weird. How are these people going to function after being asleep for a hundred years? Certainly times have progressed and thee are all kinds of newfangled gadgets and customs running around. How are these people going to function?
Before I forget, I’ve already mentioned this before in another post, but was everyone running around naked for fifteen years? The king took away everyone’s spindles. People used spindles to make yarn and thread from wool, flax and other materials. If they couldn’t spin, how were they supposed to weave cloth? Your cloth is going to wear out over the space of fifteen years. My guess is that you would be naked by about the second or third year, depending on how hard you worked. These people could not make clothes!
We have a theme of numbers. We have the number twelve and the number thirteen. We’ve already mentioned that in some circles the number thirteen is unlucky. The nursing home I used to work at didn’t have a room thirteen on one of the hallways because someone thought it would be unlucky to have it I guess. It is the thirteenth wise woman who gives the curse. For the Middle Earth fans around here, remember in The Hobbit how Bilbo must be the fourteenth member of the group? The group will not travel with thirteen men. We encounter this wariness of the number thirteen over and over and over again.
Let’s talk about that number twelve. The number twelve is only mentioned once in this story, but it’s important. Remember I’ve mentioned the number twelve in relation to the twelve tribes of Israel. There are also twelve zodiac signs, now thirteen, that can supposedly determine your fortune and personality. We have twelve months. Pregnancy is divided into three twelve-week parts. There are twelve apostles in the Bible. There were twelve sons of Jacob. Twelve is this number of completeness. It encompasses the whole world it seems. You’re going to be classified as one of twelve something.
Briar Rose received gifts from twelve wise women. She is sure to encompass all areas of goodness with gifts from these twelve different women. Briar Rose is set. There is really nothing she is unprepared for.
There is no hero in this tale. The prince is not a hero, at least how I see it. He doesn’t do anything. He just shows up at the right time. The idea of this story is not that true love’s kiss can break a curse, because it didn’t, the idea is that fate is set. Your fate will not change. Clearly the people who made up this tale were of the group that believed that your fate was set from the beginning and there was nothing you could do about it. It’s a big argument in the history of philosophical and religious arguments. If something is prophesied to happen, it’s going to happen, and nothing you can do will stop it. All these dorks who tried to storm this castle before the time was up were idiots.
Time is a theme again, we discussed time in relation to one of the stories about the elves. Briar Rose and her court are frozen in time. They remain the same, preserved, but wake up a hundred years later. Then they continue on their usual pattern of aging, I assume, and live out their lives. They are essentially trapped in another time bubble. Time does not pass the same for them as it does for other people.
Let’s say that you could travel backward around the world. You pass the international date line and it’s yesterday. Are you any younger? Is your body physically any younger than it was before you passed the date line? No, it’s not. Your body is still the same age even though you went back in time to yesterday. We cannot stop the progress of time on our bodies. We cannot stop aging.
So Briar Rose and her castle family are essentially trapped in a bubble in which, time essentially isn’t happening. Their bodies are not aging. They’re playing by different rules than the rest of the world. Their bodies are running on a different clock. To get completely science fiction on you, perhaps the young men who died trying to get inside the castle didn’t really die from all the briars, maybe they died because the time paradox killed them. Their bodies could not handle the slowed-down way in which time was progressing inside the bubble of briars. Think about it. If your body was suddenly forced to live one second as if it were years and years, do you think your body and mind could cope? Essentially, Briar Rose and her castle family have passed a hundred years as if it were one single night. You don’t age much over night. They went to sleep for the night and woke up a hundred years later.
Let’s do some math! There are eight hours in a night, let’s just go with that ok? That is 480 minutes, which is 28,800 seconds. There are twenty-four hours in a day, which makes 1,440 minutes, which makes 86,400 seconds. There are 365.25 days in a year, which equals 31,557,600 seconds in a year. That means a hundred years equals 3,155,760,000 seconds or 52,596,000 minutes. If we divide the hundred years in seconds by the eight hours of seconds, we get the number 109,575. That means one second for Briar Rose in her briar encrusted castle is 109,575 times longer than a second for the people outside the castle. Do you even think your brain could handle that? Your brain could not begin to fathom that. Five minutes inside the castle would be like 380.47 days on the outside of the castle. That’s over a year! Five minutes on the inside of the castle takes over a year on the outside! Stay for an hour, then come back to a lot of dead relatives.
We thought you were dead man!
I’ve only been in there five minutes!
No, it’s been over a year! Your girlfriend married somebody else. We ate all your food.
I assume these young mens’ brains just exploded when they crossed the briar barrier to the castle. Oh why didn’t Doctor Who warn these people?!
Don’t even try to tell me that you’ve thought of the time implications involved in this story before, I know you haven’t. Yes, I did the math on a children’s story, get over it. I had to put this in real-world terms for you guys. I actually think it’s pretty nifty. I wonder how many awkward conversations went on after this whole thing went down?