Sleeping Beauty is a traditional tale passed down for many generations. Like all fairy tales, it contains supernatural elements, and their purpose is primarily to entertain rather than impart any moral message.
The story of Sleeping Beauty is generally associated with the Brothers Grimm. However, they adapted the tale in 1812 from Charles Perrault’s version, published in French in 1697. Perrault’s version itself was adapted from a much older story known as Perceforest, which is thought to have originated in the 14th century. Some of the early versions of the story were extremely dark and wouldn’t be considered children’s stories at all. The Grimm Brothers took out the most disturbing details, and the story became known as a classic fairy tale.
Several other names0, including The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood and Little Briar Rose, have also known as Sleeping Beauty. The princess has numerous names, including Briar Rose, Rosamund, and Rosebud. However, in Tchaikovsky’s famous Sleeping Beauty ballet, first produced in 1890, the princess is called Aurora. Disney also used this name in their animated film adaptation, released in 1959. The mass appeal of this film meant that the name Princess Aurora is what most people know her as today. The film uses the Grimm Brothers’ name for the princess, Briar Rose, as a pseudonym for her while living with the fairies until she turns sixteen.
Various names have also been known for the evil fairy who places the curse on the princess. In the ballet and many written versions of the story, her name is Carabosse. However, the Disney film named her Maleficent, and this name now tends to be used much more widely. The prince doesn’t have a name in the original versions of the story. Instead, Disney named him Philip after the Duke of Edinburgh.
What is Sleeping Beauty about?
Like many fairy tales, the plot of Sleeping Beauty is centered around a princess who is cursed and can only be saved by true love. But, unfortunately, her family is powerless. So the prince must go on a quest to get to the princess, facing difficulties along the way.
While many versions of the story have been shared over the centuries, most people now recognize the performance by the Brothers Grimm, which is quite similar to the arrangement shown in the Disney film. So let’s look at this Sleeping Beauty fairy tale summary to discover more about the story.
Sleeping Beauty fairy tale summary
In an unnamed European kingdom, the king and queen are holding a great party to celebrate the birth of their daughter, Princess Aurora. The couple has long waited to have a baby and wants to make this celebration as lavish as possible. Therefore, they invite many important Each fairy is invited to give the princess a special gift, such as beauty or song, to protect her throughout her life.
However, one fairy, Maleficent, has accidentally been overlooked and hasn’t been invited to the party. She bursts in unannounced, in a terrible rage about the oversight. She approaches the baby’s crib and places a curse on her, saying that before sunset on her sixteenth birthday, Princess Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle and die. Maleficent then exits, leaving the rest of the guests shocked and devastated.
One of the good fairies hasn’t yet given her gift to the baby princess. She attempts to undo Maleficent’s curse so that instead of dying, the princess will fall into a deep sleep that will last for 100 years. She will only wake when a prince kisses her with true love.
To protect the princess, the king orders every spinning wheel and spindle in the whole kingdom to be destroyed. Princess Aurora is sent into the woods to live with the good fairies until she is sixteen.
We next meet the princess on her sixteenth birthday. She doesn’t know she is a princess, as she only remembers being brought up in the forest by the fairies. However, that night there is to be a party at the castle to celebrate the princess’s birthday. The fairies tell her of her true identity.
When Aurora arrives at the castle, she meets an older woman who lures her away into an isolated tower. The older woman is Maleficent in disguise and has a spinning wheel with a cursed spindle. Aurora touches the spindle and pricks her finger. Instantly, she falls into a deep sleep.
The good fairies see with horror what has happened. They place the sleeping Aurora on an ornate bed in the castle’s highest tower. Then, realizing that everyone she has known will be gone by the time she wakes up, they magically send everyone in the court into the same deep sleep. All the castle inhabitants will only wake at the same time as Aurora if a prince kisses her. The fairies make the trees and plants of the forest grow into a tangled web that completely covers the castle so that nobody can disturb Aurora’s sleep.
A handsome prince rides his horse through the forest one hundred years later. He sees a huge tangle of brambles and realizes a castle is hidden beneath it. Filled with curiosity and wanting to explore, the prince cuts his way through the web of brambles and enters the court. Once inside, he climbs the stairs until he reaches the top of the tallest tower, where the princess is asleep.
When the prince sees the sleeping Aurora, he instantly falls in love with her. He approaches her and gives her true love’s kiss. At this moment, Aurora and the other inhabitants wake up. The prince and princess are married, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Sleeping Beauty story variations
As the story of Sleeping Beauty has been told for many centuries by many sources, some variations in the versions of the story are told today. The version in the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale summary above is the Grimm Brothers’ version, probably the most widely known. However, this version differs from other popular tellings of the tale.
The main differences involve the prince’s story. In Disney’s film, the prince and Aurora are betrothed at birth. They meet accidentally in the woods on her sixteenth birthday, but they are both unaware of each other’s identities and that they are betrothed to each other. When Aurora falls asleep, Maleficent kidnaps the prince, planning to keep him captive for 100 years so he can’t break the curse. However, the good fairies rescue him and arm him with a sword and a shield. Maleficent transforms into a dragon to fight the prince, but he kills her and cuts his way into the castle. He wakes Aurora when she has only been asleep for a short time.
Some versions describe many princes attempting to cut their way into the castle, with only the bravest one succeeding.
In some versions of the story, the fairies are described as wise women, and there are thirteen of them, including Maleficent / Carabosse. In other arrangements, there are eight fairies, while in Disney’s film, there are only four.
The princess isn’t sent into the woods to live with the fairies in all versions of the tale. Some have her remaining with her parents, and on her sixteenth birthday, she’s left alone in the castle. She comes across a locked room where Maleficent, disguised as the older woman, is spinning at the wheel.