Home » Flash Fiction » 52 Flashes of Fiction: Week 6 – The Frog Prince

52 Flashes of Fiction: Week 6 – The Frog Prince

Why is it that characters in fairy tales are always trying to melt away their weird exteriors to somehow prove how great they are underneath? I mean, I guess it’s not that complex of an idea but why do they always succeed? Why does the Beast get to be a man and we call that a happy ending? Why aren’t frogs ever just content to be cool frogs? What’s Pinocchio’s big issue with being what he is? I have never liked this about fairy tales, nor that everybody involved in those stories is always so relieved and pleased about the transformation. If I got to know and love a beast or a frog, I think I’d be pretty freaked out if they were suddenly a human man.

I said as much in one of those precious high school Literature classes one time, the ones that are generally just a great jumbled mess of inferior minds struggling to develop and/or to resist the blitzkrieg of somebody else’s ideas of “exercises in critical thinking.” I am always wrong in those classes because I always just say the opposite of what everyone else is saying, though sometimes I don’t really believe it. In this case I did believe it, and I was wrong because I was missing the importance of symbolism of stories.

“It’s vital to realize the difference between stories and real life,” the teacher was saying, “because things that could not happen in life can in stories, and they often stand in for emotions and situations that are intrinsic and therefore harder to illustrate.”

I am still not quite sure why that invalidated MY statement about beasts and princes, but it wasn’t like I was going to be a writer anyway. I was just trying to pass the class. I didn’t end up passing it, actually, because I stopped going to school the day my dead biology frog winked and blew a kiss at me and there was nothing symbolic about it.

It wasn’t even that I was freaked by a dead thing moving or an animal making human gestures- I immediately realized the significance of the story I was in the middle of. But what bothered me was that apparently not all princes ever get to be turned back to normal, and most of the time people don’t even notice.

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7 thoughts on “52 Flashes of Fiction: Week 6 – The Frog Prince

  1. I liked your post. Very smart and interesting. You might like studying Children’s literature in university I found it very interesting. I suppose when I look at your opinion and the classic symbolism taught in education I think of the fact that nobody wants to be a frog because their slimy or nobody wants to be a bad tempered smelly ugly beast because they are what they are. As symbolic as those characters can be I believe there are frogs or beasts who are happy being who they are – – they don’t want to transform. I think modern fairytales such as Shrek show us that situation. Fiona thinks she’ll transform into a beautiful princess forever once she kisses Shrek her true love but really her true form is an ogre. At the same time, I think there is a beast or a frog in all of us (a symbolic view if you would) and that part of us is something we must hide or have no choice but to hide if we do not want to be beasts. We must alter a hateful prejudice or learn to live a better way and yes most changes do not happen for all to see they happen inside an individual and maybe no one but those closest to them know if that.

    • I did study children’s lit for my Education degree, and being a children’s librarian certainly helps 🙂

      As much as this piece was a commentary on the simple concept of inner beauty and symbolism in stories, it was just as much a statement of my feelings about the education system and the intelligent students who slip through the cracks.

      It’s also a criticism of smarmy know-it-alls who drop out of school because they think they’re too smart to have to play to the system.

      • I get what you are saying. My Dad is a former teacher and principal who worked on an inclusive education campaign in Alberta for Independant schools. He stressed not only inclusive education for kids who require extra attention to their studies but kids who are smart and need more challenging work, and yes they do slip through the cracks sometimes as you say. I enjoyed your post. I liked it and saw it more from a literary point a view as that is my speciality but I do see your main point now that I reread.

  2. Nice post Charlotte. Another thought – transformation within children’s stories helps children unlock so many things in their minds. The realization that a cat can disappear, a horse can fly and a frog can indeed, be a frog/prince/salesman (delete as appropriate) opens the flood gates and switches the lights on. I am sure I am stating the obvious, but when watching my 9 year old daughter draw her latest mythical creature or write a new poem about a witch that looks like a ordinary little girl, I can see the value of Fairy stories. They provide not only a guide to what is real and what is not, but also a gateway into a place where children can feel safely scared.
    Too many people leave their imagination in childhood and would be well advised to go back and find where they left it now and again. Perhaps when they appreciate what they have, they would think twice before being so irresponsible as to losing it again.

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