Therese here. Kim Hudson, author of The Virgin’s Promise, joins us again today to discuss the female protagonist’s journey in fairy tales. After studying the lauded The Hero’s Journey, along with the Jungian perspective in psychology, Kim developed her own archetype–one she believes is far more authentic to the female experience. She’s blogged with us twice before: once on the topic of archetypes, another time about the role of virgins and heroes. (Kim also explains why she chose the term “virgin” in comments of that post, if anyone would like to learn more about her choice.) We’re thrilled she’s back with us today. Enjoy!
Virgins in Fairy Tales
The Virgin archetype is often the protagonist in fairy tales, modern and old. The hallmark of fairy tales is that they take place in the domestic world and there is a magical element. Virgin stories are set in the world she grew up in because her growth is psychological. She needs to identify the values that are being imposed on her by her kingdom and find a way to voice her own opinion. The magic is in her transformation along with her kingdom`s.
Great Virgins in fairy tales include Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Ugly Duckling, Beauty and the Beast, and Little Red Riding Hood. Each present a different way in which the protagonist is faced with the challenge of being true to herself through creative, spiritual or sexual awakening. She begins with a Dependent World that is built around a belief that must change.
Cinderella hopes that if she is really helpful she will have a place with her stepmother or stepsister (Dependent World). As long as she doesn`t shine, she can appease their envy. But envy has a way of dehumanizing the envied and craving ownership of her soul. Movies like Ever After and Pretty Woman are Cinderella story where she reclaims her soul. In beat eight of the Virgin’s journey, Gives Up What Kept Her stuck, Cinderella must recognize that no amount of meeting the needs of others is going to get her the unconditional love she deserves. She has to reveal her true nature by following her dream to find out who loves her for who she really is.
Snow White is eating the poison apple delivered to her by her jealous stepmother. As she eats the demented view of her worth she sees her place in the world as very small. Even when she finds a small safe world, the wicked queen comes after her. Precious is an excellent example of a modern Snow White. She believes she is dependent on her mother for love and survival. Snow White must recognize that her mother is feeding her poison and stop taking it in.
Sleeping Beauty is just numb to who she could be. She walks around in a fog, blind to her real potential, following the path of least resistance. About a Boy and Legally Blond are both Sleeping Beauties. They need to wake up and recognize that living up to their potential is worth whatever pain is involved.
The Ugly Duckling doesn`t fit in with the people she lives with. Her fear is that she will lose her family if she is true to herself so she keeps trying to be a duck when she is really a swan. However, she makes a really lousy duck. She can never shine when the measurements of shining have nothing to do with who she is. Billy Elliot is an ugly duckling when he tries to be a boxer. This Virgin needs to risk exclusion from the group in order to be true to herself.
Beauty and the Beast is the story of giving up your life to preserve the values of the father. ‘Take me as your captive` she says to the Beast, in order to save her father. This Virgin needs to break free of patriarchal values and value herself. Bend It Like Beckham embodies this tale as she gives up soccer to conform to the traditions of her family. Kristin Lavralitnsdatter is a fabulous Scandinavian version of this story.
Little Red Riding Hood is being a really good girl, taking baked goods to her sick Gramma. Walking through the forest alone she carries with her the warnings of her kingdom to stay on the path of safety and not open herself to strangers. When she meets the wolf she is curious about him, a metaphor for her impending sexual awakening. In an ancient version of the tale, as shown by David Kaplan’s short film starring Christina Ricci, Little Red is invited to get warm in bed and she takes off one piece of clothing at a time saying“ it is wet, Gramma, what shall I do with it“ and the wolf replies, “throw it in the fire, you won`t need it anymore“, which she does. Little Red is cautiously exploring her sexuality against the advice of her kingdom. Unfortunately, she is doing it with a wolf. This is the story of An Education and The Accused. The Virgin gets stung by the wolf but decides in beat 8 that her sexuality is good, but the wolf needs to change. This is common to Virgin stories. The kingdom goes into chaos, looks at itself and recognizes its need to grow. The movie version, Red Riding Hood starring Amanda Seyfried, is coming out in March. I can`t wait to see what they do with it!