Tag Archives: Prince Charming

All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother Book Review

The underlying theme of fairy tales often comes down to good vs. evil. The problem with many traditional fairy tales is that while good and evil are clear-cut in these stories, they are not so clear-cut in real life.

In Cinderella, the good is personified by the title character. The evil is personified by her wicked stepmother.  Danielle Teller’s new book, All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother, adds shades of grey to the typical fairy tale good vs. evil narrative.

Cinderella is a newlywed, happy married to her prince charming. But while she settles into newlywed bliss, her stepmother, Agnes, is dealing with rumors that she mistreated her stepdaughter.

While Cinderella or Ella as she is known, grew in aristocratic comfort, Agnes’s early life was much more difficult. The youngest daughter in a peasant family, Agnes had to go to work after the death of her mother. Relying on her intelligence, she will eventually become nursemaid and stepmother to the girl known as Cinderella.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only is it well written, compelling and entertaining, but it adds new literary flavors and textures to the standard Cinderella story.

I recommend it.

 

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales

Sense and Sensibility Character Review: Marianne Dashwood

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When we are young, some of us are so certain in our beliefs that it takes an act of G-d to show us otherwise. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood is only sixteen when the book starts. She has just lost her father and is soon to lose her home to her older half-brother and his wife. She is romantic, dreamy-eyed and so certain of everything she is thinking and feeling. That will soon change.

Forced to relocate to a new and smaller home with her mother and sisters, Marianne meets two different men: the, young, dashing and romantic Mr. Willoughby and the seemingly old, austere and silent Colonel Brandon. Marianne’s meet cute with Mr. Willoughby is straight out of a fairy tale: after twisting her ankle on the wet grass, Mr. Willoughby carries Marianne home. It looks like Marianne may have found her own version of Prince Charming, but Mr. Willoughby is not all he seems to be.

Colonel Brandon, on the other hand, is not young, dashing or romantic. He is 35 (which always seems old when your sixteen), according Marianne probably wears flannel waist coats and does not match the romantic fantasies that have colored her view of the world. When Mr. Willoughby break’s Marianne’s heart by abruptly disappearing without an explanation, this sets on her a path to realize that maybe the beliefs she once held near and dear were not always correct.

To sum it up: Sometimes, regardless of our age, we have to learn things the hard way. There is no other way to learn. But, on the other hand, when we are young and forced to learn the hard way, it’s calling growing up. And growing up is never easy. As writers, when we are creating characters in the mold of Marianne Dashwood, I believe that we have to have to end in mind. When we are sending this character on this journey, what will be the end result? Will they be wiser, smarter, more flexible, bitter, angry, etc.?  The journey is taxing on both the writer and the character. But, if done right, the reader will remember the learning experience and perhaps come to learn a bit more about life along the way.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Jane Austen, Life, Sense and Sensibility

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Emma Swan

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every story starts with a hero/ protagonist. In Once Upon A Time, that hero is Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). At the beginning of the series, Emma has been on her own for as long as she can remember. Orphaned at a young age, she works as a bail bonds woman. On her 28th birthday, there is a knock on her door.

Opening the door, she finds a young man on the other side. His name is Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore) and he tells Emma that he is the baby she gave up for adoption ten years before. Henry also tells Emma that the book of fairy tales in his bag are not works of fiction, but true stories. Emma is not an orphan, but the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Her parents and the rest of the citizens of Storybrooke are cursed by The Evil Queen (Lana Parilla), they do not know that they are fairy tale characters. It is up to Emma to break the curse and restore their memories.

When the audience meets Emma, she is smart and independent but also very cynical around the world around her. She reluctantly takes Henry home, expecting to immediately turn around and return to her life as if nothing has happened. Emma does not know that she is about to go on a hero’s journey that will forever change the course of her life.

To sum it up: The hero and their hero’s journey is the core of any story. When a writer has done their job, the reader or the audience member is easily able to go along with the hero on their journey. Emma Swan is the perfect hero because not only does she go on a hero’s journey that no one would have ever predicted, but also she comes into the world of Storybrooke as an outsider and leaves as the Savior.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Prince Charming

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Prince Charming has been a stock character since the beginning of storytelling. He is there to rescue the heroine (presumably a princess in her own right or a soon to be princess), sweep her off her feet and live happily ever after with her. The problem is that this character has become such a staple of our stories to the point where we expect nothing more of this character than the standard narrative and character arc.

The writers of Once Upon A Time, have cleverly found a way to flip this stock character on his head, as they do with all of their characters. In Prince Charming’s case, he is not what he seems to be. Charming, as his wife, Snow White, calls him, was born to a poor family. Until he was an adult, he was not aware of the fact that he had a twin. This twin, James, was raised in the palace as the King’s son. When James was killed, Charming took his brother’s place and was nearly forced to marry a princess whom he did not love or care for until fate and Snow White stepped into his path.

In Storybrooke, Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) is known as David Nolan. Like his fairy tale land alter ego, David was not only unaware of the woman whom his heart belonged to, but also of his identity. Even after the curse was broken, it was not always sunshine and rainbows for David and Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), Snow White’s Storybrooke alter ego. There were both internal and external forces trying to pulling them apart.  But no matter what, David/Prince Charming and Mary Margaret/Snow White always found their way back to each other.

To sum it up: There is nothing wrong with writing a fairy tale style romance. But, the issue that the writer must contend is that that the romance and the relationship has to feel real and human. The characters must be imperfect and face challenges. If the writer sticks to the standard and predictable narrative and character arc, the reader or audience, will see both a mile away. Unpredictability makes life interesting and makes a story interesting. Interesting stories=interested readers. And interested readers always come back for more.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

One HUGE Giant Step Back

The programming geniuses at Fox (The same ones who brought us Joe Millionaire and Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire) will soon be premiering another reality show: Who Wants To Marry Harry.

The premise is the same as any other dating show: Approximately a dozen potential mates are chosen to live in the house with one man or woman being the central dater. As the series goes on, the potentials are eliminated until one is chosen.

What makes this particular series disturbing is that the premise of this series is that it promotes the idea of Prince Charming and happily ever after as if the Feminist movement never existed. The producers of this series seem to think that the audience is dumb, that all women only think about men and marriage.  We don’t want to go to school, we don’t want careers, we  don’t want to better ourselves as human beings, we just want a man. We want a Prince Charming type to sweep us off of our feet and live happily ever after. And, to top it off, this guy who is supposed to be Prince Harry doesn’t even look like him.

There is nothing wrong with a romance,  whether it is a novel, movie or reality series. But it has to be in a way that does not make the audience feel like they’ve lost their intelligence by the end.

Shame on you, Fox.

 

 

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