March 9, 2012

Guest Post by Lissa Sloan: Prince Creepy

One of the beauties of fairy tales is that we can reinvent them according to our values, culture, or personal experience.  But what modern day princess would want to reinvent the prince?  OK, he’s often a “love at first sight” type of guy, even if the eyes he’s gazing into happen to be closed at first.  But love at first sight is nice--we are talking about fairy tales after all--and she’ll reciprocate when she wakes up.  What with the slaying of dragons or giants, rescuing the princess from an arranged marriage to someone she has no feelings for, not to mention all that kissing, Prince Charming is pretty heroic. 

But there is a prince who doesn’t really stand up to the scrutiny of a modern day princess.  I’m talking about Prince Creepy.  Take for instance, Rapunzel’s prince.  He hears her singing and knows she’s the girl for him.  So he’s decisive.  But instead of introducing himself, he lurks around a little, finds out how to gain access to her tower, and does it by impersonating Rapunzel’s mother.   Rapunzel seems to find Prince Creepy a pleasant surprise, but you have to wonder how she likes wandering around in the desert, the unwed mother of twins.

Then there is Snow White’s prince.  He sees this beautiful girl, decides he can’t live without her and wants to take her home to introduce her to his parents.  But there’s one thing that’s just a little odd.  She is dead at the time.  And he has no way of knowing that all it will take to bring her back to life is the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge that bit of poisoned apple.  No, he has no idea about that part.  And yet Prince Creepy has her coffin carted back home so he can spend some quality time with her in the privacy of his own castle. 

Finally, there is Donkeyskin’s prince.  Donkeyskin is one of the many versions of the Cinderella story.  In some versions, the prince meets his princess at a ball, in others, he sees her at church, but Donkeyskin’s prince first spies her through a keyhole.  She is using her day off to try on the beautiful dresses she brought with her from home.  Prince Creepy happens to be walking by her door and decides to have a peep.  Of course, at least in Perrault’s version of the story, Donkeyskin has the idea she’s being watched.  And she kind of likes it.  So to each her own, I suppose.  But for myself, I prefer the sort of prince who introduces himself first.  And I want to be awake for the kissing.

Lissa’s work has appeared in the Little Red Riding Hood issue of Enchanted Conversation.  She is half English, half American, and lives with her husband (who is not at all creepy) and family in Kansas City.

Altered image originally by HM Rheam.


  1. "Like" - I wish more women dreaming of supposed fairy tale happiness and endings had a bit of a think about what they're in for if their Prince Charming is modeled after these guys (and these are supposed to be the better ones in the bunch!). The only thing missing from this post is the uber-creepy Sleeping Beauty prince (OK not uber-creepy, waaaay beyond that) though you allude to him at the end. Ironically the Disney version (Prince Philip) is probably one of the best male characters in all modern pop-culture fairy tale retellings. His only problem is that he's perfect and that's almost more annoying than dealing with the original creeps... *eyeroll*
    Great post!

  2. LOL! Good point and examples. There are a lot of odd and disturbing things in fairy tales though, not the least of which is the creepiness of the princes. I'm surprised not more of us fairy tale lovers are warped by them. ;)

  3. Awesome post with astute observations. :)

  4. I really enjoyed this post because it is so true! It's kind of ironic in a strange way that in today's society, girls are raised to "find their Prince Charming." Yet, if you actually look at these stories, Prince Charming's only real qualities are that he's rich and handsome. The Disney films actually carry this creepiness over a little bit as well, especially in "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid." And as for Snow White's prince -- has anyone read Neil Gaiman's awesome short story, "Snow Glass Apples?" It's super creepy and yet he doesn't seem to drastically change many aspects of the original story. Happy reading!

  5. Do you know the term 'Rapunzel syndrome', coined by Margaret Atwood, to describe women in contemporary social realist fiction who wait passively to be rescued, and usually end up having affairs with unworthy 'princes' like pool-boys and the plumber?


    Though I have to point out, just quietly, that the prince in Rapunzel didn't really pretend to be the sorceress ... apart from calling out the rhyme, 'Rapunzel, let down your hair, so I may climb the golden stair' ... surely rapunzel could have heard it was a different voice?

  6. Thanks for your comments, everyone! The Gaiman and Atwood pieces sound intriguing. I look forward to reading them.
    Good point, Kate. Unless Rapunzel's Prince Creepy is an extremely gifted impersonator, Rapunzel does bear some responsibility for letting a strange man into her tower.

  7. It’s funny that you bring up Prince Creepy. I think fairy tales “try” to hide the fact that the Prince is somewhat creepy, maybe an olden time peeping Tom? It’s a good question to bring up especially with the examples you have given in Rapunzel, Snow white, and Donkeyskin! Having become recently more acquainted with the first versions of fairy tales, my thoughts about Disney’s recreation has changed significantly.
    Although Disney appeals to women and rarely men, I find fairy tales to be rather masculine. My comment is deviating from the post a little bit but what I am trying to get across is this…I think some fairy tales started off having a rather real-life meaning to them. They often spoke to some legitimate issues, such as creepy men marrying young beautiful people, or evil parents who despise their children. I think there is a lot of room for interpretation and believe you nailed your take on “Prince Charming” as being rather creepy!!

  8. Lissa Sloan’s guest post “Prince Creepy” is definitely an amusing way to look at all the “charming” princes. Often in fairytales the damsel in distress is just waiting for a big strong man to help her with all her problems, whether she knows it or not. It is not very often (if ever) that the leading lady in the story gets to choose her leading man. Since fairytales are just that, fairytales, we do not look into the odd occurrences that bring man and woman together, or even if the person of interest is coherent. We accept them, and fantasize about the possibility of them happening to us. I’m sure Sloan is not the first to contemplate these weird hookups, and she definitely puts it into an amusing perspective. It is plain to see that there is still much love of fairytales, even if the happening in the story are not possible in today’s age. While little girls today may not dream of meeting their prince in glass coffins’, they still dream of meeting him in other random, weird, and new places.
    Serena W 8
    November 7, 2012

  9. I agree with this post, in the sense that a lot of these princes do come across as a bit creepy. I also feel as though, the writers are just trying to stick with the theme of being saved by prince and love at first sight. I, personally, believe in love at first sight. I think it is a little far fetched at times, but then again the moment I saw my boyfriend, I knew he was the one without even saying a word to him first. Love is a funny thing, and sometimes you can’t control how it happens, just like the all so typical Prince Creepy. We tend to find it creepy because of the way we were brought up, but I grew up on Disney movies and so I never found these princes to be creepy. I always dreamed to be saved by a prince but I also want to be able to have a life of my own and be able to be independent if needed.

    Taylor B.