Having written the title before the content in this blog post, I realise this may sound a little bit hippy dippy. I mean ‘A new perspective’ in a literal sense, and ‘My story’ as in the one I’m writing, not my life.
I spent the afternoon, post dog walk (and subsequent dog washing because dog fell up to his ears in mud), reading a journal article by Ming-Hsun Lin called ‘Fitting the Glass Slipper: A Comparative Study of the Princess’s Role in the Harry Potter Novels and Films”. Now, it’s actually not the Harry Potter aspect that drew this particular article to my attention, but I’ve been trying to find more academic text about fairy tales and such to help with my rewriting, developing character and story etc.
It’s quite an easy and entertaining read if you’re into that sort of thing, I found it on JSTOR, but it was published in Fairy Tale Films ed. Pauline Greenhill and Sidney Eve Matrix. What Lin does is explains what the ‘Princess Role’ is and then compares three characters in Harry Potter and compares how each of them fit that archetype, and stereotype, both in the books and the films. But this got me thinking about my own story and particularly my characters.
Firstly, it’s important to note that in the essay the ‘Princess Role’ is used in analysing the ‘function of the characters’ and ‘the type of their roles’ (Lin, 2010) of each character in the fairy tale story, in line with Vladimir Propps’ claim. He calls this dramatis personae and is used to analyse and identify each different archetypal character in the fairy tale structure, not just the Princess. As an aside, I will be researching Propps’ work and will discuss in future posts.
There’s a scene I’ve added, where Joelle (tomboy, main character) is getting dressed and finds a dress that her mother bought her, she thinks back to when her and her mum rowed about her wearing it (Joelle desperately not wanting to and her Mum insisting she had to for some special occasion, where nothing else she owned would look smart enough) and this time she is torn again, whether she wants to wear it because her mum wanted her to, or whether she actually wants to or not. If I follow what is stated in the essay, I could relate it to her subconsciously having to choose whether or not to accept the ‘Princess Role’ to grow into the virtuous and feminine traits or to accept that she is and always will be a tomboy. Instead, as she progresses through the story she accepts both, not needing to force herself be more feminine or tomboy-ish. Just being a herself is enough.
In the essay, Lin discusses when Hermione has her big reveal at the Yule Ball, her Princess Moment, and the following day when she is her usual self, rejecting the Princess Role for normal every day. Her analysis of this sequence highlighted whats important about my coming of age story arch – the difference between what Joelle imagines is the proper way to be, which contradicts the way she is now; she doesn’t know how to get from A to B, and with the absence of her Mum to guide her, that becomes her conflict. And the reason for her to do what she does. But I need to work that dress scene much better, it needs to have more weight, and the message behind it needs to be stronger.
Layla, on the other hand, does the opposite of Hermione and Joelle. Instead she is as close to an archetypal princess as possible, in that she is a young adult, who is virtuous and conventionally attractive. Side Note: the attractiveness is subjective to Joelle, and I used it in order for Joelle to have to overcome her own self doubts, like with the femininity aspect I discussed already, and become beautiful in her own right – not by anyones standards but her own. I feel like I should justify that choice. But, returning to Layla, her story arch is like a fall from grace in a sense, like Cinderella but instead of abuse from step-mothers/-sisters, she gets in with the ‘wrong crowd’ and instead of seeking the Prince and romance, it is the sisterly love and the risk of losing Joelle that causes Layla to save herself. So instead of playing the ‘Princess Role’ for a brief time and actively rejecting it, she follows it, but becomes a more knowledgeable version of her self that is chosen, rather than just is like at the beginning of the story.
So that is what I have so far. If you can find Ming-Hsun Lins’ essay, I highly recommend it if you are a fan of Harry Potter, or fairy tales. Or both. I’m hoping to write much more of this more informative and thought through posts, as well as more emotive ones that I usually write. So I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Don’t tread on the flowers.
(Picture found at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/Ab2T97iqMZQ6XYmM0jJI8tGS1WcdUqC7Qylwx-Vzy_6hGEe-qkvfNos/)