The Tale of Two Princesses and their Unexpected Suitors
The Brothers Grimm tale of “The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich” has both similarities and differences when compared to the Greek tale of “Cupid and Psyche” by Lucius Apuleius. Both stories involve beautiful princesses who are paired with unusual suitors which they end up living happily ever after with. However, their experiences which they must endure for these suitors differ greatly. Both stories resemble a fairy tale story line although told from two different cultural background (Greek and German) and perspectives.
The “Frog King” is about a fair princess who makes a promise to a frog to take him as her companionship if he retrieves her gold ball from a well. The Princess falsely agrees and presumes to run away after the frog gives her what she wants. The frog does not hesitate to hop to the castle where the king makes the lovely princess hold true to her promise made to the frog. The Princess is forced into allowing the frog to eat from her plate and carry him to her bed room so he can sleep. However, the Princess throws the frog against a wall when he threatens to tell the King that she will not allow the frog to sleep in her bed, but strangely the frog turns into a beautiful Prince with “kind and beautiful eyes.” The Princess broke the Prince’s curse which led to them getting married and living happily ever after. Even the Princes loyal servant, Heinrich, is so overjoyed by his return that the iron bands around his heart broke. But how does this compare to the Greek story of “Cupid and Psyche?”
The stories, although similar in some aspects, also differ through the experiences of the characters.
“Cupid and Psyche” also begins by introducing the beautiful Princess Psyche who is so fair that the God Venus is jealous of her vanity. Venus sends Cupid to punish Psyche for her beauty, but a fatal mistake causes the two to be destined for each other. Psyche is given the prophecy by Apollo that she is to be wed to a “monster whom neither gods nor men can resist.” When she wonders to the top of a mountain, she finds a golden castle where her future husband resides. Although she never sees him, she loves him undeniably and continues to live with all the riches she could ever need. However, her sisters convince her to take a lamp and knife to the “monsters” room where she discovers he is cupid but injures him by dropping wax on his shoulder. As the Princesses punishment, Cupid leaves her and returns her back to her sisters. Although, the God Ceres tells Psyche to find a way to win over Venus’ forgiveness so she can again wed her love, Cupid. Psych must sort wheat (with the help from Ants), get wool from cruel ram, and retrieve beauty from Erebus in a small box. Aided through all of these journey’s, Psyche still opens the small box of “beauty” but falls into a deep sleep where she is saved by Cupid. Cupid presumes to have Jupiter talk Venus into approving their marriage, making Psyche immortal, and allowing for them to be wed and bear a child.
The two princesses, both concerned with their beauty, end their stories happily ever after by enduring three different tasks which they had to complete. However, their journeys are only made possible with the helpers who pass through, which include the frog Prince, and Cupid who assists Psych with tasks (such as sending her helper ants) and saving her when she falls into a deep slumber. But, the two stories also have their differences, the main one being their first reactions to their future husbands. The Princess in “The Frog King” does not approve of his green sliminess and wants nothing to do with him. However, Psych has an undying love for Cupid even before she knows what he looks like. The two Princesses journeys differ in that Psyche must endure difficult tasks to win over Cupid while in the Grimm Tale, the Princess wants nothing to do with winning over the frog. But both tales end with the Princess and Prince marrying and living happily ever after.