Born into royalty, a beautiful baby girl named Aurora is introduced to her entire kingdom on her christening day. The introduction also includes all the mystical creatures that live in the kingdom, such as faeries. Princess Aurora received an honorable visit from the three great faeries of her kingdom – Flora, Fauna and Merryweather. The three great faeries had come to bless the newborn baby with magical gifts such as happiness, song and much more. As Merryweather begins to bless Princess Aurora with a precious gift, a peculiar gust of green fog starts to surrounds everyone as a new fairy appears. Flabbergasted reactions and fear automatically fill the room as the fortuitous, undesired, fairy emits a malevolent aura. The unbidden malefic fairy too wanted to bestow Princess Aurora with a precious gift, casting a powerful wicked curse on the newborn. The curse being that when Aurora turns sixteen years old, she will die before sunset due to pricking her finger on a spinning wheel’s spindle. Merryweather adjusted the curse attempting to make it less harmful. Now when Aurora pricks her finger on the spindle, she will fall into a deep slumber waiting for a true loves kiss to awaken her.
The fairytale of Sleeping Beauty has been around since the 16thcentury, and was written by Charles Perrault, a famous French author. Perrault’s version of the fairytale influenced the two German brothers, The Grimm Brothers.These philologists were also famous authors who wrote many famous folk tales that are now popular because of Walt Disney, who turned them into the incredible films that we now know today. In Walt Disney’s version of Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora is sent off to a cottage by her royal parents so that she can be taken care of by the three great fairies, who are disguised as her great aunts. All three fairies will then raise Aurora and hide her true identity. Hoping that if she is hidden away from the castle by her sixteenth birthday, the curse from the evil fairy will fall off. On Aurora’s sixteenth birthday is where she will meet her true love, Prince Phillip, who is then kidnapped by the malefic fairy. Meanwhile the wicked curse succeeds as the evil fairy tricks Aurora into pricking her finger, having her fall into her deep slumber. Flora, Fauna and Merryweather save the prince where he, and his army, is then put up against the enraged wicked fairy who then shapeshifts into a dragon. The Dragon is defeated and Prince Phillip awakens Princess Aurora with a kiss and they live happily ever after.
The malefic fairy in Sleeping Beautyis also known as Maleficent, the Mistress of Evil. Maleficent is the Queen of Moors, played by Angelina Jolie in the Disney film, who was once the guardian of her land, that boarded the human kingdom, protecting it from human invaders. She is a powerful human-sized fairy, with super human strength and magic powers. Maleficent also has the abilities to fly, heal and curse individuals. The way Maleficent was created ties in perfectly with Jeffery Cohen’s third monster theory, “The Monster Is the Harbinger of Category Crisis.” (6)She was born with different features that humans do not have, in order to protect her enchanted forest, making her unique, peculiar and intimidating. Cohen states that, “Monsters are generally disturbing hybrids whose externally incoherent bodies resist attempts to include them in any systematic structuration. And so the monster is dangerous, a form suspended between forms that threatens to smash distinctions”(Cohen 6). Because Maleficent is not human, she is already a target, but because she also uses her powers, that humans do not possess, for evil, she is categorized as a monster. Cohen’s fourth monster theory also ties into the way Maleficent is looked at and how she isn’t given a chance to prove that she means well, “The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference.” (7) As Cohen explains that, “monstrous difference tends to me cultural, political, racial, economic and sexual” (Cohen 7).
Believe it or not, Maleficent was once a young, kind-hearted fairy with a soul generated by love. In her forest is where she met her love interest Stefan, a human boy who accidentally wandered his way into Moors. As she helps Stefan find his way back, they both discover that they have many things in common and he then promises to visit her again. As time pasts Stefan visits Moors enough for the two to develop feelings and fall in love with each other, as they grow older and mature. On Maleficent’s sixteenth birthday is when Stefan presented her with a True Love’s Kiss. However, after that, years pass and he stops visiting Moors.
Unfortunately, the enchanted forest then becomes under attack by the greedy King Henry, and his army, yet victory is with Maleficent and her army of mystical creatures/fairies. King Henry was terribly wounded during the battle of Moors and demands that Maleficent is killed before he passes. Stefan, who now serves for the King, is sent to slay Maleficent but cannot find it in him to do so. He pays Maleficent a visit one last time and spends the night with her, drugs her, and cuts off her wings. Stefan then presents them to King Henry, who is on his deathbed, as proof that he has slain Maleficent. The injured Maleficent is heartbroken and betrayed, filled with so many emotions. She takes in a crow as her servant to “be her wings” and demands him to find Stefan, who has just been announced the new king with a newborn child born. Maleficent was infuriated to find out that King Stefan betrayed her and traded in her wings for royalty turning her into The Evil Queen of Moors, creating a dark kingdom. She was the uninvited malefic fairy, full of revenge for King Stefan, that casted the spell on the newborn, Princess Aurora. Due to the curse, the King sent Aurora away for safety, and frantically made sure that every spinning wheel in the kingdom was destroyed. Thesis five “TheMonster Polices the Borders of the Possible” (12)ties in very well with this because once Maleficent made her appearance and cursed Aurora, a new fear was introduced. No one wanted to leave the Kingdom, and so much was improvised because of the Mistress of Evil. “The monster prevents mobility, delimiting the social spaces through which private bodies may move.” (Cohen 12).
Later on, Maleficent ends up finding the cottage, due to her crow, where baby Aurora is being kept. She dryly mutters the hate she has for the baby and calls her “Little Beastie” before leaving. She is then reunited with the Aurora who seems to be five years old and Maleficent is shown saving the child from falling. Maleficent then begins to watch over Aurora as she grows older. Fifteen years later, Princess Aurora misinterprets Maleficent as her Fairy Godmother as Aurora realized that she was being watched by Maleficent, all her life. Months pass and Maleficent has pretty much raised Aurora as her own, becoming benevolent and tries to reverse her curse unsuccessfully. This is where Aurora meets Prince Phillip and a few days later falls to her slumber, on her sixteenth birthday. Maleficent puts a sleeping spell on Prince Phillip so that when he wakes up, he is next to the Princess and can kiss her awake, but the kiss fails because it is not true love. Prince Phillip is dragged out the room and Maleficent enters and kisses Aurora on the forehead, where she then awakens. The movie ends with Maleficent fighting King Stefan and his army, along-side with her crow that she turned into a Dragon. Aurora sets Maleficent’s wings free as they get re-attached to her and she then takes on King Stefan and his army, successfully. Peace will now be restored between the two kingdoms.
Overall, after learning about Maleficent’s side of the story, you learn that she was always a kind-hearted fairy, with a pure soul who still had so much love in her heart. Maleficent was not always a monster. “We sometimes see archetypically evil characters redefined primarily by the telling of their backstories to provide rationale for their behavior and to evoke sympathy or pity from the audience” (Donnelly).She was betrayed and heartbroken by King Stefan. She became the heartless, vengeful, sorceress the kingdom knew her as and was deemed as an evil monster that would represent evil, because of King Stefan’s doings; therefore, King Stefan created this monster.“Thesis Seven: The Monster Stands at the Threshold. . . of becoming” (20). Limits were taught about the monsters we create and how monster are our children.She was feared by all and was the shadow of her former self until she experienced what true love felt like. True love was something she never truly believed in due to her treacherous past with Stefan. In the end, Maleficent’s cold heart turned pure again due to Princess Aurora. This Mistress of evil easily gets a 5/5. Seeing Disney create the reasoning to Maleficent’s actions in Sleeping Beautyand to learn about her side of the story was truly intriguing and taught a lesson of how true love conquers all.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” Monster Theory: Reading Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 1997, pp. 3–25.
This source is a credible published book source that cites the sources being used in the text, and it was a really helpful article that I used to help describe Maleficent as a monster. All seven of the monster culture theses is relevant to Maleficent, though thesis seven seemed to be the most relevant in Maleficent’s case. Thesis seven explains how Monsters stand on the threshold of becoming. Maleficent was a kind-hearted fairy with a pure soul who was betrayed by her love interest King Stefan. He steals her wings as a trophy to present to the previous King to gain royalty, and because of this unfortunate event, this is what poisons her pure heart and turns her into a revengeful, wicked creature.
Dartnall, Jane. “‘Sleeping Beauty’” The Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English, edited by Victor Watson, Cambridge University Press, 1st edition, 2001. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/childbooks/sleeping_beauty/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 18 Jul. 2019.
This credible article explains the story of sleeping beauty and where it originates from. The original dark twisted version vs. the story that we know and are familiar with because of Charles Perrault, which is where Walt Disney got his ideas from when creating the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty. The well-known version that we love. This article was helpful for me as it explains where the idea of Maleficent originates from, from the old fashion fairytale. It also shows proof that Maleficent was always evil at the time until we were able to see her side of the story in the movie.
Donnelly, Colleen Elaine. “Re-Visioning Negative Archetypes of Disability and Deformity in Fantasy: Wicked, Maleficent, and Game of Thrones.” Disability Studies Quarterly, dsq-sds.org/article/view/5313.
I found this journal to be very useful as it talks about how there are some characters in fantasy and horror stories/films that embody terror and evil, because we say so. Once an evil character tells their side of the story as to why they became monsters, we then humanize these characters or “monsters” due to pity and sympathy. Stories liked this, which is relevant to Maleficent, places the audience in their shoes as it shows us how they’ve become isolated from the rest of society, due to stereotypes that are learned. The oblivious behaviors categorizes monsters into “others” when we do not know their back story.
“IN FAIRYLAND The Finest of Tales by the Brothers Grimm.” Kirkus Reviews, vol. 86, no. 24, Dec. 2018, p. 76. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=133505448&site=ehost-live.
This scholarly article was very useful for me as it explains the two famous Grimm Brothers and the mystical stories that they have gifted us with. This article explains the fairytales we know and love, and explains every creature created by the Grimm brothers. What stood out to me was the topic on Fairies, since Maleficent is a fairy. It talks about the idea of fairies and where they originate from and how they came to be about, of course along with other famous fairytales and creatures.
Weinstock, Jeffrey Andrew. “Introduction: Monsters are the Most Interesting People.” The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Ashgate Publishing, 1st edition, 2014. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/ashgtmonster/introduction_monsters_are_the_most_interesting_people/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 18 Jul. 2019.
This is a credible scholarly article that I found to be really intriguing and extremely helpful when explaining hot monster are actually created by us and how we are still somewhat fascinated with monsters because they change over time. Monsters are just plain and simply interesting to us. Whether it is literature and cinema, to folklore, we are still fascinated by monsters because they reflect our own anxieties. That human creativity does not compare to the monster we created, to entertain us.