Fashion, Incest, And Fur, In All Kinds Of Fur And Donkeyskin

1499 words - 6 pages

Fashion, Incest, and Fur, in All-Kinds-of-Fur and Donkeyskin

Donkeyskin, by Charles Perrault, and All-Kinds-of-Fur by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, are both stories about a princess who runs away from her kingdom because of the king’s desire to marry her, despite the fact that the marriage would be incestuous. In Donkeyskin, the king is overtly powerful and wealthy, and much of his wealth is obtained by his Master Donkey, who excretes gold. In both tales it is necessary for the princess to find some means of discouraging her father’s sinful proposal, of which she asks for three magnificent and impossible dresses to be made and for the skin of an animal or multiple animals. The princess’ ...view middle of the document...

While the princess in Donkeyskin has a helpful fairy godmother to give her sage advice, the princess in All-Kinds-of-Fur has to make her choices on her own. The princesses having, or not having, outside assistance in their journeys makes their character act and think differently.
The princess in Donkeyskin, though being the optimal choice of a bride for the king for being wise and accomplished, is not as overtly clever and wise as the princess in All-Kinds-of-Fur. The princess, referred to as All-Kinds-of-Fur, is solely responsible for her choices and actions, coming only from her own savvy brain. “Horrified by her father’s incestuous demands, All-Fur seeks her own counsel.” (Marshall 409). Firstly she contrives the seemingly impossible tasks that she sets upon her father, including having him obtain one dress “golden as the sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one as bright as the stars” (Grimm, “All-Kinds-of-Fur”) and a “mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur and hair” (Grimm, “All-Kinds-of-Fur”). Secondly, All-Kinds-of-Fur makes, and acts upon, the decision to run away, disguised by her mantle of furs, before having to marry her father. Thirdly, All-Kinds-of-Fur cooks up the idea to place three of her golden trinkets, a ring, a spinning-wheel, and a reel, into the three cakes she is told to make for the king, and by this action she catches the attention of the king.
The princess, referred to as Donkeyskin, however, is clearly the definition of a damsel in distress. Not only does Donkeyskin run for help to her fairy godmother each time things go awry, because she is weak and does not know her own mind or what she should do, but she also does not make the decision herself to place her ring in the cake for the prince, it happens by accident. Though Perrault attempts to give Donkeyskin credit for being wily enough to attempt to catch the king’s attention by putting her gold ring into the cake, but realistically, given her inability to handle many of the burdens in her life by herself it is unlikely that she would be able to devise such a plan. Not only does Donkeyskin’s trying to ensnare the prince with the ring seem improbable because of her needing assistance in all other instances, but also by the way she herself is described throughout the tale, as the young princess and the child, and is described as fearful, and confused, which contradicts the assertion that Perrault makes “In these matters, women are so discerning and their eyes so sharp that you can’t look at them for a moment without their knowing it.” (114). Professor and Scholar Jeana Jorgensen comments on these differences,
When the heroine flees her father’s incestuous advances, she often has a helper. In Perrault’s “Donkey Skin”… she has a fairy godmother to help her… The girl is her own helper in “All Kinds of Fur”. (All Kinds of Fur) may represent an optimistic view that the girl is able to move past her Electral desires, or the abuse she either feared or endured, and...

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