Thursday, 11 April 2013

Analysis of The Frog Prince OR Carry On Croaking

Analysis of The Frog Prince
Carry On Croaking

Before we begin I ask you to bear in mind that the Grimm brothers were master storytellers [1] but one thing that I've noticed about their stories is that whenever a character is engaged in something seemingly harmless it's only a matter of time before tragedy descends and the entire situation spirals wildly out of control.
For example. Snow White was killed by a poison apple, Sleeping Beauty was enchanted for a 100 years through the clever use of a spinning wheel and Red Riding Hood was eaten by a wolf
[2], Sometimes it's as if they were trying to do better and be just that little more gruesome with each story.
But not this gruesome
Keeping this in mind it occurs to me that I've not always being fair on the assorted Prince Charmings who ride through these stories and rescue princess's from perils most dire [3].
While your average Prince has a pretty tough old time fighting against the latest evil whilst remaining rather dashing it must be said that the prince in this story has it pretty bad.  How bad you ask?  Well read on and find out.

In the days when wishing still helped, provided that people knew what to wish for, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful.  Of course every father thinks his daughters are beautiful but when daddy has a brute squad at his command then it's generally agreed that your general princess is extra beautiful.
Now of all the princesses it was the youngest whom the brute squad, having noticed her looking slightly sad one day, went out of their way to convince everyone that here was a girl who was a thermonuclear weapon of comeliness [4]Close by the castle there lay a great dark forest [5] and in that forest was a well where the youngest princess would go to be alone.  Her favorite toy was a golden ball with which she would throw and catch again [6]

So after all that what, you might well ask happens to the princess?  I mean it's got to be something pretty horrific since they've already brought up the fact that there is a well in the woods and she's all alone.

Well one day the princess was sitting in the forest by the well and playing with her little golden ball when she missed the catch and it landed in the well.  In accordance with the laws of comic tragedy  the ball floated just long enough for her to realize that she couldn't reach it and then sank right to the bottom.  At the loss of her precious ball she wept, cried and generally carried on until a voice spoke to her
“What ails you kings daughter?  You weep so that even a stone would show pity”

The princess looked up to see a frog who had climbed out of the well “I am weeping for my golden ball old water splasher.  For it has fallen down the well”
“Maybe I can help” the frog told her “but what's in it for me?” [7]
“Whatever you want my friend.  I've got clothes, pearls, jewels and a golden crown”
“I don't think I need any of that stuff.  But it is lonely here in the well so if you'll love me and let me be your companion, sit by you at your little table and eat off your plate and sleep in your bed then I'll be happy to swim down and bring you your golden ball”
“I promise absolutly  as grateful as she was the princess started having second thoughts once the frog had jumped into the water “No frog are ever going to be fashionable enough to join me.  They are really good for nothing except sitting around and croaking”

Lady Gaga disagrees with the first part of that last statement

and first mate Piggy disagrees with the second

It's for that very reason my dear readers that this princess who was so very beautiful, grabbed the ball from the frog and quickly ran away to the castle while keeping her ears closed to the frogs pleadings for her to slow down.

The next day she sat down to a proper breakfast with the king and the court but right in the middle of everything there came a loud voice outside the door
“Princess, youngest princess.  Open the door for me”
Of course when the door was opened and the frog was revealed she slammed the door shut and quickly returned to the table.
“My daughter” the king said “why are you so aftraid?  Is there a giant outside who wants to carry you away?” [8]
“No daddy. There is no giant”
“Then what? A dragon?”
“Not exactly a dragon either.  It's sort of a frog
“A what?”
“It's a frog”
“A frog?” the king was puzzled “how is it that a frog can frighten you so?”

The princess was forced to tell her father about everything that had happened and shrunk back from the kings judgement “We don't back out of promises in this family young lady.  Your frog awaits outside”
“Lift me up beside you” the frog croaked once she'd brought in the frog and everyone int the court watched as she turned bright red in her embarresment at having to feed the prince of the wart from her own golden plate.
“I'm tired my princess” the frog again spoke much too loudly for the her liking “make your bed and I will lie beside you”
Of course the princess wasn't happy about this but with her father sitting at the head of the table and likewise unhappy with the whole affair she had no choice except to pick up what had to be the smuggest frog ever and carry him up to her bedchamber where, since there was, at last, nobody around to see, she put him in the corner and got into bed.

The frog waited until she'd gotten comfortable before he spoke again. 
“Oh princess”
“I'm asleep”
“Oh Princess”
“Not listening”
“Ooooohh Prrrriiinnnceess”
“What! What do you want?”
“I want to sleep in your bed as was promised.  If this doesn't happen then I might just have to let the king, your father know”This attempt at emotional blackmail enraged the princess and she got out of bed, picked the frog up and then threw him against the wall as hard as she could. [9]

But when the frog hit the wall [10] and fell to the floor he suddenly was changed into a prince with kind and beautiful eyes but a rather pressing need for a suit.
While he covered the important parts with the princess's favorite pillow he told her exactly what had happened.
“There was a wicked witch who bewitched me into a frog.  Nobody but you, my princess could have delivered me from the well and tomorrow we'll go together to my own kingdom.

Then they both went to sleep [11] and the next morning a carriage that was pulled with eight white horses wearing ostrich feathers and golden chains. [12]   In charge of all this was the princes servant Faithful Henry who had been so unhappy at the princes curse that his heart had needed to be wrapped with three iron bands to keep it from breaking.

As the carriage moved off there was a cracking sound that was so loud the prince thought that the carriage had snapped a wheel.
“It's not the carriage my master but the iron bands around my heart which now beats with joy to see that you are safe and happy which is just my way of saying and they lived happily ever afer”

How do we know that this guy is a prince? 
You can call me suspicious if you like but if I were about to wave goodbye to my youngest daughter and someone who, until receantly , had been rather green and clammy I would sort of like to ask a few questions just to satisfy my curiosity.  Because really, we've only got the princes word about all this [13]

The Curse: The paramaters of this froggy curse are incredibly specific ie - the sufferer can only be freed by a particular person after they've eaten off golden plates and are then thrown at a wall -  methinks that there was at least one person who wasn't distracted by that Potter boy and actually paid attention in potions class. [14]

The Marriage: Now my big problem with a lot of these stories is that it's not only love at first sight but true love at first sight.  But the frog prince is different though because he's been able to observe the princess and get a general idea of her tastes and attitudes.

All that being said exactly why did he have to marry the princess once the curse was ended?  What was to stop him riding off into the sunset and sending her flowers or perhaps a nice basket of fruit by way of thanks. [15] Don't get me wrong, marriage is mandatory for a happily ever after [16] but the princess, while being beautiful, isn't actually the nicest person in the world.

Faithful Henry:
How is it that he just happened to know where to go when the prince was transformed?  For that matter how did he know that the curse had been lifted?

The breaking of the Iron bands:
The fact that the iron breaks loudly enough for the prince to comment on them is interesting.  It might just be my own rather cynical mind but this whole thing could actually be an insurance scam.
With the carriage falling apart it is only a matter of time before the thing crashes and leaves “Faithful Henry” as the only survivor.  He collects the insurance payout on the pair before taking the news to the kings.
So distraught is he at what has happened that he declares to all and sundry that he's going off into exile as he doesn't deserve to live in this, the greatest land in the world [16]
After making certain that he hasn't been followed and taking pains to appear properly sad he meets up with his partner, Witchypoo the witch and they divide the filthy lucre between them. 
Or maybe he actually is just a servant and I'm reading too much into the actions of someone who just
 appears out of nowhere with a coach and horses.

  1. I say this even though I've ripped so many of their works to shreds
  2. Not only eaten but also taunted by same.
  3. From which they could have easily escaped on their own but heavens forbid that we dwell on any aspect that might empower them.  That's just crazy talk.
  4. Brute squad is just a name.  It doesn't mean you can't be sensative as well
  5. We got the forest and the king, all we need now is  some witches and this whole thing turns into Macbeth
  6. Not like kids of today with their playboxes and their xstations.  They wouldn't go round throwing balls
  7. “Daddy has a brute squad”“Good point” the frog retrieved the ball, nobody got served with butter.  The end
  8. A giant?  What kind of giant knocks on doors?
  9. A perfect demonstration of the violence inherent in the system)
  10. With, it must be said, a very satisfying thud)
  11. Thus solving the issue of suits being pressed
  12. Sounds like the start of a pretty good Mardi Gras to me.  The rule is that if you can remember the Mardi Gras then you weren't actually there.
  13. Don't rule out the possibility of werefrogs – they're probably not the most threatening of were creatures but they remain a possibility(
  14. Since the curse is relatively benign I'm thinking that it was probably done by a Ravenclaw rather than a Slytherin
  15. I haven't actually been able to date the story but I strongly suspect that it might have something to do with the social attitudes of the time.  The prince and princess were unchaperoned in a bedroom together and if they didn't get married after that then there would a lot of raised eyebrows over the teacups.
  16. In these stories,  not in real life.  It's important to know the difference – Hint: aside from one or two exceptions, frogs don't talk in real life.
  17. Not including Disneyland

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