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The Gruesome Origins of Classic Fairytales: The Frog Prince

In today's installment of The Gruesome Origins of Classic Fairytales we will be covering The Frog Prince. We all know the Disney version of this story, The Princess and the Frog. Set in the 1920s New Orleans, the film tells the story of a hardworking waitress named Tiana who dreams of opening her own restaurant. After kissing a prince who has been turned into a frog by an evil witch doctor, Tiana becomes a frog herself and must find a way to turn back into a human before it is too late. Obviously this movie is just based on the story The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker whose story is based on the Brothers Grimm story The Frog Prince.


The Brothers Grimm Version

Once upon a time there was a king who had three daughters. In his courtyard there was a well with wonderful clear water. One hot summer day the oldest daughter went down and drew herself a glassful, but when she held it to the sun, she saw that it was cloudy. This seemed strange to her, and she was about to pour it back when a frog appeared in the water, stuck his head into the air, then jumped out onto the well's edge, saying:

If you will be my sweetheart dear, Then I will give you water clear.

"Ugh! Who wants to be the sweetheart of an ugly frog!" exclaimed the princess and ran away. She told her sisters about the amazing frog down at the well who was making the water cloudy. The second one was curious, so she too went down and drew herself a glassful, but it was so cloudy that she could not drink it. Once again the frog appeared at the well's edge and said:

If you will be my sweetheart dear, Then I will give you water clear.

"Not I!" said the princess, and ran away. Finally the third sister came and drew a glassful, but it was no better than before. The frog also said to her:

If you will be my sweetheart dear, Then I will give you water clear.

"Why not! I'll be your sweetheart. Just give me some clean water," she said, while thinking, "There's no harm in this. You can promise him anything, for a stupid frog can never be your sweetheart."

The frog sprang back into the water, and when she drew another glassful it was so clear that the sun glistened in it with joy. She drank all she wanted and then took some up to her sisters, saying, "Why were you so stupid as to be afraid of a frog?"

The princess did not think anything more about it until that evening after she had gone to bed. Before she fell asleep she heard something scratching at the door and a voice singing:

Open up! Open up! Youngest daughter of the king. Remember that you promised me While I was sitting in the well, That you would be my sweetheart dear, If I would give you water clear.

"Ugh! That's my boyfriend the frog," said the princess. "I promised, so I will have to open the door for him." She got up, opened the door a crack, and went back to bed. The frog hopped after her, then hopped onto her bed where he lay at her feet until the night was over and the morning dawned. Then he jumped down and disappeared out the door.

The next evening, when the princess once more had just gone to bed, he scratched and sang again at the door. The princess let him in, and he again lay at her feet until daylight came. He came again on the third evening, as on the two previous ones. "This is the last time that I'll let you in," said the princess. "It will not happen again in the future." Then the frog jumped under her pillow, and the princess fell asleep. She awoke in the morning, thinking that the frog would hop away once again, but now a beautiful young prince was standing before her. He told her that he had been an enchanted frog and that she had broken the spell by promising to be his sweetheart. Then they both went to the king who gave them his blessing, and they were married. The two other sisters were angry with themselves that they had not taken the frog for their sweetheart.


E. D. Baker Version

Emeralda, a.k.a. Emma is the princess and heir of Greater Greensward. One of her most distinct traits is her unique laugh, which sounds like a donkey's bray. The only person that appreciates her is her aunt Grassina, the current Green Witch.

When her mother, Queen Chartreuse, says she has to marry the stuck-up Prince Jorge from East Aradia, her worst enemy, she runs off to the swamp where she meets Prince Eadric of Upper Montevista. The only problem is that he has been turned into a frog by the witch Mudine. Emma reluctantly kisses him, trying to reverse the spell; instead, she turns into a frog herself. Annoyed and confused by this outcome, Emma and Eadric set off to find the witch that turned him into a frog and ask her to change them back. A dog persistently chases them throughout the journey. Upon reaching the site where Eadric insulted (and was cursed by) the witch that transformed him, they find an ugly woman searching there. The two assume she's the witch Mudine, but she turns out to be Vannabe, a vain witch wannabe who has taken Mudine's house, pets, and possessions and plans to use the frogs for a potion she thinks will make her eternally beautiful. With the aid of Mudine's former pets, the two frogs escape and free all the prisoners.

The animals confirm that Mudine has disappeared, so Emma suggests they go to Grassina for help. L'il the bat and Fang the snake accompany them as protection during the journey, though Fang leaves after reuniting with his lover Clarise. At the castle Grassina confirms their true identity and explains why they're both stuck as frogs: while Emma kissed Eadric, she had been wearing the curse-reversal bracelet Grassina had given her in case an evil witch had attacked Emma. And to transform back Emma and Eadric will have to kiss again while wearing the bracelet. Emma recalls that it was stolen by an otter, so the three head to the swamp to retrieve it. Grassina is unable to progress further into the swamp due to a hereditary curse placed on Green Witches involving flowers (which until now she had passed off as an allergy) and Eadric is chased again by the pursuing dog, so Emma has to confront the otter alone. She passes herself off as a powerful fairy and performs some magic to convince the otter to turn over the bracelet, and narrowly manages to kiss Eadric before the dog catches up to them both. The two transform back into humans, and the dog transforms as well. It turns out to be Eadric's horse that he had been riding on when he met Mudine, who had also cursed his steed. Returning to Grassina, she finds her aunt with the otter, who is actually Grassina's old beau Haywood, cursed by Grassina's witch mother. The two couples make plans to convince their respective parents that they've found their own true loves.


Both these stories while similar are also very different. I personally like the Brothers Grimm version more than any of the others. I like The Frog Prince story more because the moral of the story is to always keep your promises.


Hope you enjoyed today's post. See you next time :)


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