One of my favorite fairy tales is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling.
The mother duck is hatching her last egg, one which is different from all the others that already hatched into lovely little duckettes. There’s wild speculation about what type of egg it is, because it’s big and not at all like her other eggs. Is it a turkey? The mother decides she will sit on her egg a little longer until it hatches despite it not being a duck.
At last the large egg broke, and a young one crept forth crying, “Peep, peep.” It was very large and ugly. The duck stared at it and exclaimed, “It is very large and not at all like the others. I wonder if it really is a turkey. We shall soon find it out, however when we go to the water. It must go in, if I have to push it myself.”
Poor duckling, so unlike his siblings. An outcast, black sheep and worst of all, different. During my childhood, I remember thinking that I never quite fit in. It was an internal thing with me. I had friends and fun in school, but a part of me never completely fit the social mode. I call it The Me, Not Me syndrome.
Because the duckling doesn’t look like everyone else, the other ducks bite him and tease him. One duck wants him to leave. I love how the mother sticks up for her odd little son, seeing the good in him and downplaying his ugliness. Character over beauty.
“Let him alone,” said the mother; “he is not doing any harm.”
“Yes, but he is so big and ugly,” said the spiteful duck “and therefore he must be turned out.”
“That is impossible, your grace,” replied the mother; “he is not pretty; but he has a very good disposition, and swims as well or even better than the others. I think he will grow up pretty, and perhaps be smaller; he has remained too long in the egg, and therefore his figure is not properly formed;” and then she stroked his neck and smoothed the feathers, saying, “It is a drake, and therefore not of so much consequence. I think he will grow up strong, and able to take care of himself.”e others are very pretty children,” said the old duck, with the rag on her leg, “all but that one; I wish his mother could improve him a little.”
The duckling finds himself alone in the big world. Being ugly isn’t all bad because it saves him from being hunted. He discovers his love for water and wants to find his own path.
“You don’t understand me,” said the duckling.
“We don’t understand you? Who can understand you, I wonder? Do you consider yourself more clever than the cat, or the old woman? I will say nothing of myself. Don’t imagine such nonsense, child, and thank your good fortune that you have been received here. Are you not in a warm room, and in society from which you may learn something. But you are a chatterer, and your company is not very agreeable. Believe me, I speak only for your own good. I may tell you unpleasant truths, but that is a proof of my friendship. I advise you, therefore, to lay eggs, and learn to purr as quickly as possible.”
Instead of taking the advice of others, he goes out in the world again, searching for where he belongs. It’s this journey of self-discovery that transforms him into his true self – a beautiful swan. Others now appreciate his beauty, yet, all those times he was jeered at, teased and told that he was ugly has scarred him. At first he’s ashamed for being happy that he’s beautiful. When this moment passes, he allows his happiness and joy to shine through.
Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”
I love ‘ugly duckling’ stories – a person’s journey in finding their true self. In romance, often times our hero(ines) are beautiful, handsome, powerful, seemingly perfect. The characters that stand out are the one’s that are flawed. Everyone has some ‘ugly duckling’ in them and if brought out in a story, it makes the character real, complex and fascinating to watch their discovery of what’s truly important.
Viki Lyn: Award winning author of male/male paranormal and contemporary romances. You can find all of Viki’s books at the following sites: Amazon, All Romance Ebooks and GLBT Bookshelf.
Pride will be the death of him.
When psychic Nate Coleman dreams of a murder, he knows it’s a premonition. He can’t forget the image of his ex-lover with a bullet hole through his chest. Nate has no choice but to confront William and face the skeptical scientist’s ridicule.
Dr. William Ryner doesn’t believe in what he can’t prove. When Nate comes back into his life, it’s not to rekindle their love, but to bring up more of that mumbo jumbo that split them apart.
Despite William’s refusal to listen, Nate can’t ignore the premonition. And, William can’t ignore Nate. Before the gunman strikes, William must either trust in Nate’s ability or rely only on the facts, but if he does the latter, pride could be the death of him.
I love fairytales. Always have. Read everything I could get my hands on – including some of the unsanitized versions that included blood and lopping off body parts. So I can’t give you a favorite. I love ’em all. HOWEVER. We can talk about execution.
Unless you are of a certain age, you won’t know Fractured Fairytales from the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. Without fail, these are some of my fav reworks of classic fairytales. I linked in “Leaping Beauty”, but if you search Youtube for Fractured Fairytales, you’ll find a bunch of five to six minute episodes.
Twenty plus years past the era of Fractured Fairytales, Shelly Duvall produced Fairytale Theatre. Cheesy, fun sets. Silly costumes. STELLAR casts. It’s like she blackmailed a bunch of her friends into doing this project with her. Some of the shows are funnier than others, but my two favorites of hers are Cinderella (Jennifer Beale and Matthew Broderick) and The Princess and the Pea. Here’s the opener for Princess and the Pea.
In books, Robin McKinley made Beauty and the Beast my very favorite retold fairytale of all time. Her book, BEAUTY, is one of my desert island books.
How about you? Are you a strict traditionalist when it comes to fairytales? Or do you get into the retellings – the more twisted the better?
The theme this time around is our favorite fairy tales.
I’m’ a writer, but first and foremost, I’m a reader. I’ve always enjoyed a good story and even better, I loved happy endings. My absolute favorite fairy tale is one that still appeals to me as much now as it did when I was a kid. Beauty and the Beast is one of those stories that works in so many ways.
You have the heroine, who while beautiful is also loyal and intrepid. I mean, I like to think I’d sacrifice my own happiness and freedom for the ones I love, but I’ve never had it put to the test. She doesn’t even really think twice, does she? She just does it. That’s true love, the kind that most people would love to have directed at them.
Then we have our beast. *Sigh* I’m a sucker for a tortured hero. I really am. He brought it on himself with his vanity and selfishness and he’s suffering for it. Ugly, disfigured and lonely, he’s the opposite of our Beauty. And the bargain he strikes with her is one guaranteed to make her miserable, which I believe is his intention. Misery loves company and all that, right?
But like with any great love story, a metamorphosis takes place. I’m going to use Disney’s version because I found I actually liked it. But basically, Beauty’s love and light penetrates Beast’s darkness and self-hatred. They begin to balance each other. I used to play a text-based RPC as a druid, a neutral guild. I guess that suited my personality the best because I strongly believe you can’t have all goodness and light, or all evil and darkness. You need both, because without one you’d never be able to appreciate the other.
To me, that’s what Beauty and the Beast represents. It’s the balancing of Beauty’s goodness and Beast’s darkness because no matter that they break the spell, that they fall in love, that darkness will remain with him. Or at least that’s what I like to think. His lesson is learned, but the scars are still there to remind him not to take the light and beauty for granted.
Pretty heavy, huh?
Who are some of your favorite “beastly” heroes from books or movies? My personal favorites are Zsadist from the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Lothaire from Immortals After Dark and nearly any of the heroes from Elizabeth Hoyt’s historical romances.