March 13, 2012

Guest Post By Lissa Sloan: Adventure Princess Comes to the Rescue

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.


Asakiyume said...

Yes, those adventure princesses are wonderful and inspiring. Even those without as much internal fortitude, who must depend on aid from those they meet, are inspiring (thinking of Gerda in Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen).

Gypsy Thornton said...

My favorite part in Girl Without Hands is when new hands appear to catch her child (implying to me that even having had her hands cut off she's able to save and look after her child - it doesn't really matter whether or not these are actual real limbs - just that she can save her kid).
Can you imagine if "Adventure Princess" (ie. an amalgamation of all these brave heroines in tales and others) was made into a movie? People would Flip. Out.
Love this post and a great time to be talking about it with Pixar's Brave soon to appear.

Lissa said...

Adventure Princess is too smart and too determined not to accept any help she can get, and she often gets it, even in the examples I mention. Gerda is an excellent example, Asakiyume. It is her very love for her friend (her tears) that frees him in the end.
InkGypsy, I will be right there in the audience when your Adventure Princess movie comes out. In the mean time, yes, I am very excited about Brave.

Laura B. said...

Great post! I am a huge fan of "Adventure Princess" who shows up in many stories. I love the bits about chopping off of the finger in Enchanted Pig to make the final ring of the ladder as well as the hands reappearing in the Girl Without Hands. Almost as if these are extensions of the neurons of their exceptional brains.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you, we need more Adventure Princesses! Yes it does feel wonderful to have someone rescue you with a kiss but it also feels just as wonderful, if not more to know that you’re capable of rising to the occasion to save the day. I think everyone today needs to know that is true, princesses (and little girls playing princess) especially. It’s wonderful to read fairy tales that include Adventure Princesses and to discover just all that they are capable of doing, especially because they’re doing it out of love. I love how you point out that the Adventure Princess’s greatest power isn’t strength or endurance but love for others; love for their children, family, or the love of their lives. It always feels empowering and just down right good to read about the Adventure Princess and her adventures. We definitely need more stories about Adventure Princesses!

Anna W.

Anonymous said...

I think that Adventure Princess is a wonderful and fresh change to the stereotypical fairytale. Everyone always believes that the men do all the rescuing and the dirty work, but sometimes the women do too. She almost reminds me of a mom. Sure, moms do most of the cleaning, but they also look after their families, do all the errands, and even have their own free time. Mom’s are like super humans to me because I feel like there is never enough time in the day for them. It’s just nice to see a woman do the saving for once, because I’m sure that there are a lot of men out there who need some saving, even if they don’t want to admit that they do. I think that there should be a lot more adventure princesses out there, and even become more popular so that children can see that they don’t always need to just be waiting around to be saved by true love.

Taylor B.