Happy ending bulldust

FAIRYTALES have much to answer for – unfortunate stereotypes of step-sisters, impossible waistlines, impractical footwear… but the worst offence is the “happily ever after”.

The idea that the story ends once she’s met, and usually married, Prince Charming.

Of course, dragons have been slain, witches boiled and other cesspools of evil have been overcome for the dashing couple to unite, but what if Cinderella had father issues that caused a rift in her marriage? What if Prince Charming couldn’t get past Snow White’s reputation? What if Sleeping Beauty actually suffered sleep apnoea?  What if Rapunzel was not trapped, but in a witness protection program?

There’s any number of obstacles that aren’t necessarily banished from the kingdom once a ring is slipped on the finger.

And, as is usually the case, when marriage is followed by child-bearing… there’s a whole other lot of issues to contend with. Princess Jasmine is pretty feisty, but what if she suffered Post-Natal Depression? What if Princess Fiona had a child with autism?

In fact forget about additional obstacles, just turning a Princess into a mum presents an interesting dilemma… though perhaps it’s not so tough when you have footmen to fetch your nappy bags and ladies-in-waiting to keep your bustier straps from showing (do bustiers have straps?!).

It pains me that we are taught from such an early age, the concept of perfection and the falsehood that it comes so easily – and predominantly via the affections of a man.

Life is never that simple. Nor that perfect. Nor courtesy of a strapping young man on a white horse.

Bearing that in mind, shouldn’t I relish the original faerie tales – the Brothers Grimm variety – where people die, blood is spilt? Where there is an ending but it’s not always happy?

I thought so too.

But when I saw the original take on the Little Tin Soldier (one of my childhood favourites) I was left bereft by the fiery demise of the brave little man and his delicate ballerina.

It wasn’t the much-preferred ending I recalled from my childhood. They had overcome the adversity and deserved happiness (don’t we all?).

Despite all my nay-saying, I need a happy ending.  I perpetuate the “perfect happy ending” in my own writing. I need things to be wrapped up nicely with a pretty bow.

If it’s not a good ending, then what’s the point? Why slay the dragon, or hack down a centuries-old forest, if you’re just going to die before your time?

Of course, the characters seldom know any better. But why would you want to read about it? It’d be enough to make Ariel never leave the sea.

Maybe the Disney version of events was borne out of necessity? Of people needing some optimism, something positive to hold onto when your happily ever after starts to wear thin.

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryse
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 06:19:33

    So much suffering and heartache in this world… Many of us search for humour and happy endings in our books. Our release. Of course, we won’t keep reading a book unless the heroine has a courage or tenacity that keeps us with her throughout the journey. Strong Heroine + Passionate Goal + Happy Ending = Holiday Away From Real World. Wedding Etiquette for Ferals is probably a great way to take that holiday… and the Real Woman knows that Life stops when we stop having Goals.

    Reply

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