Monday, February 27, 2012

Cupid and Psyche Glorious Tale


 The story of Cupid and Psyche, while containing elements both similar to and unique from all the Beauty and the Beast tales we read, is, in my opinion, actually quite similar to the tale, The Frog Princess. One very noticeable similarity was that in neither story was there actually a beast. In The Frog Princess, the princes was actually a lovely maiden who was disguised as a frog, but could take off the frog skin and return to her pure and beautiful form, she was simply made to have the prince think she was a beast. Similarly in Cupid and Psyche, there is again no beast, save the one Psyche does not fall in love with. In this story, the primary beast is the lie told to Psyche about the identity of Cupid, as serpent intent on eating her. In actuality, Cupid is a god and about as far from a beast as one could get, but again he is made to appear to Psyche as a beast. These similar themes show the dangers in making judgments on people without full knowledge of the situation. It was not simply the case, as in many of the Beauty and the Beast stories, that the beast had a good inner character that needed to be brought out, but rather there never really was a beast, just a false perception of one.
Cavano's statue Cupid and Psyche at the Lourve
 depicts the two embraced in love.

Another striking similarity between the two stories is the trials the girl is put through, and how she accomplished them. When reading about the many tasks Venus sent Psyche to accomplish, I could not help but be reminded of the tasks the Frog Princess was made to partake in. The way external influences assisted Psyche, such as the ants and the tower, have clear parallels to the way the nurses helped the Frog Princess in her trial to construct a shirt for her prince. These trials show a dependence on others, often overlooked people, such as the nurses and ants. They show the importance of being good, and it the girls' virtue which allows them to receive the help they need in order to which their man.
Viktor Vasnetsov's Frog Tsarevna depicts the
 ballroom scene from The Frog Princess
The main way in which these two stories are different is in their ending. Cupid and Psyche has a nice resolute ending where everything comes together. They get to live as god and immortal atop Mount Olympus, with the blessing of Jupiter, and even Venus and Psyche make up. The Frog Princess, on the other hand, while it does have a happy ending, has a much less clean one. They escape to Russia being chased by another suitor. There is no nice conclusion or return to home. In this sense Cupid and Psyche is the much more classic fairy tale, as the return to home after the adventure is usually a key element in the archetypal fairy tale. The Frog Princess' flight ending takes it away from the usual narrative, and, in my mind at least, helps to make it stand out more among the cloud of similar stories.

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