So as we discussed previously, the Princess and the Pea was written in 1835 by Hans Christian Andersen. What I did not mention is that at the time of its publication it was about as popular as a lead balloon.
The critics were hostile and disliked the informal, “chatty” tone of the story–and the other two it was published with.
Over the years the story has also been poked apart by readers who point out the irony in the story. The most glaring irony/plot hole, is that a princess who is so tired she can’t sleep because of a pea and it gives her bruises, arrived at the prince’s castle alone, in a rainstorm, with soaked clothes, and had traveled a long distance. A princess who was sensitive enough to feel a pea would never do something so daring and uncomfortable.
As for the moral, some believe Andersen meant the story to be tongue-in-cheek and poke fun at the ridiculous measures aristocracy went through to preserve their bloodlines, others believe Andersen mostly meant for the story to drive home that “sensitivity” is required to be a true noble, not wealth. This is thought because although Andersen mingled with the “upper-crust” he was never accepted as one of them due to his poor birth, and thus he identified with the princess who had no visible wealth or even great beauty. (As a side note: Andersen was not a rich man, and lived off wealthy patrons, which is also why some think he wanted to believe aristocracy was something besides breeding and wealth.)
Regardless of what others say, Andersen himself said he meant for the described “sensitivity” to be emotionally sensitive. meaning the princess was compassionate and would be sensitive to the needs of her people, and that’s what made her a true princess. It’s a worthy moral–and one I tried to communicate in my retelling–but Andersen did a pretty poor job in communicating it. (Though that can be attributed to its length. It’s seriously about ten paragraphs long. In fact, this blog post is about the same length as the story.)
It was actually Andersen’s words–that a true princess was one sensitive to her people’s needs–that sparked the idea for my retelling–but I decided to come after it from a slightly different angle. (I was also inspired by the last few lines of Andersen’s tale, in which he notes that the pea that ruined the princess’ sleep was put in a museum, and it is still there if no one has stolen it. It made me ponder why anyone would ever want to steal such a thing, and so the Pea of Primeorder was born!)
That’s all for today, Champions! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday for our weekly event summary!