"But scarcely had she touched the spindle when the magic decree was fulfilled, and she pricked her finger with it. And, in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell down upon the bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep."
Once upon a time, a little girl was born that was exceptionally beautiful. Due to jealousy, a wicked witch wanted her dead. She ended up being raised in fosterage in the forest by magical midgets, but eventually the queen found a way to poison her and put her in a coma resistant to aging. Eventually, Prince Charming showed up, kissed the girl and woke her up, and slew the evil witch.
But, then, this article isn't about "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs"...
A king and queen, very desirous of a child, finally succeed in giving birth to a little girl, and invite all the fairies they can think of to celebrate. Unfortunately, they forget or otherwise ignore one, who shows up at the christening anyway and curses the girl to one day prick her finger on a spindle and die. One of the other fairies succeeds in softening the curse, to merely a long sleep.
The king and queen order all the spindles in their kingdom to be burnt, but manage to miss one in the castle itself, towards which the teenaged princess innocently makes a beeline. She finds a woman sitting there spinning, who in most versions is the evil fairy in disguise, but in some she is simply an innocently unknowing old lady. The princess is fascinated and asks if she can try spinning. Predictably, the moment she picks it up, the curse comes into effect, and she, accompanied by the rest of the castle, falls into a deep sleep.
Unfortunately, his step-mother, who has ogre blood, is jealous of the prince's new wife, and when the prince leaves on matters of state, she demands to have the princess' young children, and then the princess herself, killed and cooked for her supper. The cook manages to hide the unfortunate family and fool the queen with various cooked animals instead. This all comes to naught when the queen hears the princess and her kids at the cook's house, however, and she prepares a big pot of nasty, venemous creatures to kill them. Fortunately, the prince arrives home just in time, and the queen falls into the pot of nasties, dying a Karmic Death and leaving everyone to live Happily Ever After. (In an alternate ending, the queen, thinking wife and kids are safely dead, realizes her son may not be so happy about that and tries to pass herself off as the princess. The prince works it out by asking the marriage bed. Queen is duly put to death and prince is reunited with princess and kids.)
In most modern versions, starting with the Grimms', the second part of the story, in which the princess must cope with the jealous queen, is omitted. Actually, the Grimms included the German version of this part of the story as a separate tale, ending with the king sentencing his own mother to death. Versions preceding Charles Perrault's replace the prince with an already married king. In these versions, he rapes the princess while she lies sleeping and she gives birth to twins before waking up (when one of the babies sucks the splinter out of her finger). The cannibalistic queen in this case is the king's wife. In another, even darker variant, when the princess wakes and realizes what had been done to her, she's so enraged that she eats the babies. You can read one of these earlier versions here.
- Big Damn Heroes: The prince/king shows up just in time to disrupt the queen's plans.
- Curse Escape Clause: the last good fairy modifies the curse of death at sixteen to death-like sleep, which is still a curse, but the sleep can be broken...
- Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: There is sometimes an age predicted at which the princess will prick herself, usually around 16.
- Damsel in Distress
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma
- Everything's Better with Princesses
- Evil Matriarch
- The Fair Folk: don't snub them.
- Fairy Tale
- Faking the Dead: The princess and her children do this to protect themselves from the queen. It almost works.
- Actually, it does work. . . long enough.
- Faux Death: don't worry, she's only sleeping.
- Freud Was Right: The phallic symbolism of the spindle has been subject to an enormous amount of theorizing. Especially in the versions of the story that feature comatose pregnancy and the would-be incestuous mother.
- Fridge Horror: In versions that include the entire castle's servants to fall asleep for one hundred years too. Think about it, they wake up and find that everyone they know outside of work is dead, the world is now foreign to them, and they lost everything solely because the fairies wanted them to continue working for this one princess.
- Fridge Logic: Why didn't they just tell the princess about the curse? To me it seems like that could've saved them a lot of trouble...
- They maybe thought that would make her end up afraid of everything. It seems that they were sheltering her.
- God Save Us From the Queen
- Happily Ever After
- The Hedge of Thorns: And usually the prince is the last of a lot, and the only one who doesn't die on this.
- I'm a Humanitarian
- Karmic Death
- Law of Inverse Fertility: In both the Grimms' and Perrault's version, her parents had long wanted and never had a child.
- Love At First Sight
- Prince Charming: ...in the versions where he isn't a rapist.
- Public Domain Character
- The Tragic Rose: Ninety-nine princes died on the thorns before the last one succeeded.
- True Love's Kiss or Victim Falls For Rapist: Depending on the version.
- Values Dissonance: the king rapes a comatose girl, and they live happily ever after once they get rid of his pesky wife.
- Except in the variation where comatose girl eats the babies when she wakes up.
- Wicked Stepmother