The fairy tale heroine has it all, doesn’t she? Sure, she may have a jealous stepmother plotting her demise and giving her way too many chores, but she’s beautiful, loyal, hardworking, and often very clever. Still, I want more out of a heroine. I want a princess who does more than housework while she waits around to be kissed, rescued, or rescued by a kiss. Fortunately, I know just the girl, and she does her own rescuing. I like to call her Adventure Princess. And if she sounds a bit like a superhero, that’s because she is. She’s a girl on a quest that will require some superhuman qualities. But don’t worry-- Adventure Princess has it covered.
We often meet Adventure Princess on a search for a lost loved one. The odds are against her, but she has the power of persistence. In stories like East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Fenist the Bright Falcon, and The Enchanted Pig, Adventure Princess wanders the world and beyond in her search. She visits nine continents, nine seas, the houses of the Sun, Moon, and various winds. She even goes as far as the Milky Way. At times the difficulty of her task almost kills her, but she endures. She wears out three pairs of iron shoes, three iron caps, and blunts her steel staff. Sometimes she even gives birth to a baby along the way.
Adventure Princess also possesses super toughness. In The Seven Ravens, the morning star gives her a chicken bone to use as a key to her brothers’ prison. But by the time she reaches the door, she has lost the bone, so she cuts off her little finger as a substitute. In The Enchanted Pig, she takes similar measures to make the final rung of a ladder to get into her beloved’s house. Pretty super, right?
Not only can Adventure Princess endure dismemberment for those she loves, she can even accomplish re-memberment. In some versions of The Girl Without Hands, handless Adventure Princess is stopping to have a drink at a stream, and her baby, who is strapped to her back, slips into the water. Our heroine reaches out, and new hands come shooting out of her stumps to catch her child.
It’s all in a day’s work for Adventure Princess. She’s got some pretty great powers, but I haven’t even mentioned her best one—the power of love. Adventure Princess risks it all, endures it all, and dares it all for the ones she loves, be they brother, child or true love. That’s my kind of princess.
Lissa’s work has appeared in the Little Red Riding Hood issue of Enchanted Conversation. She is half English, half American, and hopes to be an Adventure Princess when she grows up.
Image from "The Girl Without Hands," is by HJ Ford.