Archive for September, 2011
Virgins in Fairy Tales by Kim Hudson
Great Virgins in fairy tales include Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Ugly Duckling, and Beauty and the Beast. Each present a different way in which the protagonist is faced with the challenge of being true to herself through creative, spiritual or sexual awakening. She begins in a Dependent World that is built around a belief she must change. But she’is not the only one who must grow. The kingdom must also rise to its better self.
Virgin stories are set in the domestic world she grew up in because her growth is psychological. She needs to identify the values that are being imposed on her by her kingdom and find a way to voice her own opinion. The magic is in her transformation as she travels to her interior world.
Cinderella hopes that if she is really helpful she will have a place with her stepmother or stepsister (Dependent World). As long as she doesn`t shine, she can appease their envy. But envy has a way of dehumanizing the envied and craving ownership of her soul. Movies like Ever After and Pretty Woman are Cinderella story where she reclaims her soul. In beat eight of the Virgin’s journey, Gives Up What Kept Her stuck, Cinderella must recognize that no amount of meeting the needs of others is going to get her the unconditional love she deserves. She has to reveal her true nature by following her dream to find out who loves her for who she really is.
Snow White is eating the poison apple delivered to her by her jealous stepmother. As she eats the demented view of her worth she sees her place in the world as very small. Even when she finds a small safe world, the wicked queen comes after her. Precious is an excellent example of a modern Snow White. She believes she is dependent on her mother for love and survival. Snow White must recognize that her mother is feeding her poison and stop taking it in.
Sleeping Beauty is just numb to who she could be. She walks around in a fog, blind to her real potential, following the path of least resistance. About a Boy and Legally Blond are both Sleeping Beauties. They need to wake up and recognize that living up to their potential is worth whatever pain is involved.
The Ugly Duckling doesn`t fit in with the people she lives with. Her fear is that she will lose her family if she is true to herself so she keeps trying to be a duck when she is really a swan. However, she makes a really lousy duck. She can never shine when the measurements of shining have nothing to do with who she is. Billy Elliot is an ugly duckling when he tries to be a boxer. Glee is full of Swans in a high school of ducks who slushie them to get them to conform. This Virgin needs to risk exclusion from the group in order to be true to herself.
Beauty and the Beast is the story of giving up your life to preserve the values of the father. ‘Take me as your captive` she says to the Beast, in order to save her father. This Virgin needs to break free of patriarchal values and value herself. Bend It Like Beckham embodies this tale as she gives up soccer to conform to the traditions of her family. Kristin Lavralitnsdatter is a fabulous Scandinavian version of this story.
Little Red Riding Hood is being a really good girl, taking baked goods to her sick Gramma. Walking through the forest alone she carries with her the warnings of her kingdom to stay on the path of safety and not open herself to strangers. When she meets the wolf she is curious about him, a metaphor for her sexual awakening and her dilemma over the potential dangers of being with a man as well as the pleasures. She isn’t sure if she should trust her community that is more comfortable with her being a little girl than a woman or her natural instinct. It is interesting because there are real dangers but also great joys. This is the story of An Education and The Accused.
The Virgin gets stung by the wolf but decides in beat 11 that her sexuality is good, but the wolf needs to change. In Virgin stories not just the protagonist grows. The kingdom must also transform itself.
I just saw this movie and really enjoyed it. It is one of those movies that stays with you and makes you think. My friend Jen Grisanti made a comment on her facebook wall that it didn’t follow a structure. It’s a really good point. It doesn’t follow the solid structure of hero stories but I still think there is a structure there. Here’s my version of how it follows a Virgin structure. I’m going from memory so there is a gap or two.
There are several parallel journeys here (part of what make sit compelling). Aibileen and Eugenia follow parallel Virgin stories and I’ll describe them both. Warning! Spoilers:
1. Dependent World: Aibileen is a maid in the southern US during the civil rights movement. Eugenia was raised by her maid and is home as her mother fights cancer.
2.Price of Conformity: Aibileen must endure long hours of work for low pay and raise other people’s children even while her son was young. Eugenia is staying with her family when she really wants to be starting her writing career in New York.
3. Opportunity to Shine: Eugenia sees the maids are treated poorly and she gets the idea it would make a great book. Aibileen is asked to contribute to Eugenia’s book and her minister preaches that it is time to be courageous.
4. Dress the Part: Eugenia comes to Aibileen’s house and notices how nice she looks in her own clothes.
5. Secret World: Secretly they write the story
6. No Longer Fits Her World: Hilly’s Maid is brutally arrested and Eugenia feels helpless and outraged. Eugenia discovers her mother is part of the problem. Rather than being passive they put an incriminating story about Hilly in the book to protect themselves.
8.Gives Up What Kept Her Stuck: Eugenia recognizes that she has to ask the hard question of her mother and discovers her Nanny died of a broken heart when mother fired her for displeasing a guest.
11. Chooses Her Light: Despite exposing how her family as a part of the problem, Eugenia sends the book to the publisher.
7. Caught Shining: The book comes out. Eugenia tells her boyfriend she is the author.
9. Kingdom in Chaos: Once supportive Boyfriend accuses Eugenia of being selfish and leaves her.
10. Wanders in the Wilderness: Hilly comes to Eugenia on the attack.
12. The Re-order: Eugenia’s mother sends Hilly packing and tells Eugenia she has never been prouder of her and she can go to New York because she has decided not to die.
13. The Kingdom is Brighter: Aibileen’s church group thanks her for her important contribution to the civil rights movement.
11. Chooses Her Light: Eugenia gets a job offer in New York and Aibileen and friend encourage her to go and do more good writing (13).
9. The Kingdom in Chaos: The community is reading the book and in a flap. Hilly accuses Aibileen of theft and pressures her boss to fire her which means the little girl Aibileen loves will be raised by a negligent mother.
11. Chooses Her Light: Aibileen stands up to Hilly very courageously.
10. Wanders in the Wilderness: Scared for what will become of the child, Aibileen is fired.
11. Chooses Her Light: Aibileen recognizes that she needs to be a writer and walks away.
I think it follows the structure rather well!