Some brief notes on the Frog Prince

Notes from the author of Look Before You Leap:

In the traditional story of the Frog Prince (also known as the Frog King or Iron Henry) as told by the Brothers Grimm, the Princess drops her golden ball into a pool of water. A frog offers to retrieve it for her, on the condition that she will love him, let him live with her, eat from her plate and sleep on her bed. The princess, disbelieving that the frog can leave the spring, but wanting her ball back, agrees to his terms. The frog fulfils his side of the bargain, and when the frog turns up at the castle the next day, at the behest of her father, the Princess begrudgingly agrees to honour her promise.

In the original version told by the Brothers Grimm, the princess is so irritated by the frog’s presence that she throws him against a wall, and it is as frog meets wall that he transforms back into a prince. A translator of the tales in the 1820s is responsible for revising this ending, believing his genteel readers would not accept such a violent act. Instead the frog’s transformation occurs after sleeping on the princess’ pillow for 3 nights. Over time, this concept has been further corrupted, so that the frog’s transformation upon receiving a kiss from the princess.  This revised version has become so embedded in the public consciousness that the concept of kissing a frog in order to find one’s Prince Charming has become a widely used metaphor, in the world of dating.

I have never understood why the disenchanted prince would accept as his bride a princess who has shown herself to be such a thoroughly selfish, spoilt and unpleasant person.  However, it is possible that the Prince has always been a fool – possibly causing him to become enchanted, in the first place.  On the other hand, it may simply be because the terms of the curse decree that to marry a princess is the only way for the prince to defeat his curse and return to human form.   What a price to pay, though! In my version of the story, admittedly the frog meets an unhappy end; but at least the princess isn’t rewarded with a Prince Charming for her selfishness.

Read the full, original story & variations at the wonderful Sur La Lune fairy tale archive.


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