I love fairy tales.
Which is why I’m going to ask a litany of needlessly nitpicky questions about them in this post. Specifically, about true love’s first kiss.
First of all, how many princes kiss the girls while they’re asleep anyway? Only one is ever mentioned, but there must have been more than that. Sleeping Beauty apparently sleeps for years and years after all – did not one single person kiss her in all that time? If it had worked, the person would have become royalty, so why not try? But it somehow loses something if you picture person after person kissing the princess in an effort to wake her. The whole idea of being woken by a total stranger’s kiss is just creepy, and it only adds to the creepiness if you’re being kissed over and over by dozens of strangers while you sleep. Of course, that’s assuming it’s widely known what happens if you kiss the princess. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the prince just stumbled upon an apparently dead or unconscious body and, um, decided to kiss it. That’s normal, right? Or perhaps the spell has some sort of built-in mechanism so that only the princess’s so-called “true-love” would be attracted to the spot where she lay, or only he would want to kiss her or something? Some sort of loving-minds magnet-magic?
Secondly, would these princesses ever be woken up? How are they supposed to have a true love if they’re lying there sleeping? Wouldn’t true love imply that they, y’know, already knew each other? That their acquaintance extended beyond the princess’s appearance while she sleeps and the prince’s willingness to kiss a sleeping stranger? I don’t think there would be a person who would come along like the one puzzle piece that fits so exactly with the princess’s that it must be true love, nonexistent relationship notwithstanding.
Also, true love would seem to indicate that it’s reciprocal – so let’s just say, for a moment, that somehow the prince comes along and knows beyond a shadow of doubt that it isn’t an infatuation and he’s one hundred per cent in love with the princess, and he kisses her – well, she wouldn’t have any thoughts or emotions while she was asleep, would she? How could she react, even if the prince did love instantaneously for no particular reason other than she was there?
Or does this “true love” system just work on potential? Perhaps the enchantment somehow has an in depth knowledge of the mind and soul of the princess, not to mention that of whoever’s kissing her, and shakes her awake whenever it deems there to be another potential in their soul make-up (which sounds a bit like the premise for a dystopian novel, to be honest). But then there would always be the possibility that the spell made a mistake, that the potential just wasn’t enough, and then she would be woken by someone whom everyone would assume to be her true love when he really…wasn’t. That would be unfortunate.
Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe the infallible spell just knows when it’s true love and I shouldn’t question it so much. Maybe the person the princess woke up to marry really was her true love. Except…then they still have to get to know each other. I can only imagine the awkwardness of getting to know someone you don’t at all, to whom you’re already married and whom you are – according to an infallible spell – fated to love deeply*. Am I the only one who finds the idea really, really awkward? And that’s without even mentioning the fact that without this person, you would still be asleep, or the fact that everybody in the kingdom would know the two of you are supposed to be true loves.
…it’s possible I’m taking this too literally.
*Much like Malinda Lo’s book Huntress, in fact.