|This billboard kicked up|
quite a bit of debate in 2011.
I was surprised how many commenters said under my Pregnancy post that they didn't know about this part of the story. I especially love the pregnancy plot inf Rapunzel because it portrays a girl who is literally locked in a tower, kept innocent and hidden, and somehow she still manages to get pregnant - and even worse, she doesn't even know what is happening to her until the witch tells her. "Abstinence only" education doesn't work, people. Not even in fairy tales.
(Again, read the story in this edition)
A variation on the Rapunzel trope, in this Italina folktale a princess' fortune says she'll give birth to a child by the Sun before she turns twenty. In order to prevent this (the Sun won't marry her, after all), her father locks her in a tower. GUESS WHAT: It doesn't work. The scared princess sends the baby to be put out into the woods, where she gets found and adopted by a neighboring king.
(The rest of the story is pretty spectacular too. I love telling it)
(Read the tale in Italo Calvino's collection. I also included a version in my book.)
Little Eve and the Dwarves
One of my favorite stories from the famous "500 New Fairytales Discovered in Germany" Schönwerth collection. A mysterious maidservant gets hired by a strict stewardess to keep a castle clean. She makes friends with the Dwarves that live in the castle, and they not only help her hide her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but also serve as midwives and care for the baby every day while she goes about her chores. In the end, they even go and find the baby's father so they can marry, and move with Eve to her new home to continue their babysitting work.
(Read it in English in Original Bavarian Folktales)
The three spindles
Another tale from the Schönwerth collection. In this one a pregnant girl who is kicked out by her parents saves the life of a forest sprite (fairy), and in exchange the fairies take her in and take care of her until her baby is born. They ask her if they can keep the child, and the girl agrees, knowing it will be a good place for the baby. They also give her gifts to start her life over, and she returns to her parents, and goes on to marry and have a happy family. There is a lot to say about this story in relation to the adoption stories I started the Challenge with.
(Read this story in The Turnip Princess)
Okay, so in most versions of this Nart legend, a baby is born from a stone after a man ejaculates on it, watching Satana, the wise and beautiful matriarch of the Narts take a bath in the river. The boulder grows big, and when a blacksmith splits it open, a baby is found inside - very mythical birth, similar to the birth of Erichthonius. In one variation, however, Satana is actually violated by the man by the river, and she asks the blacksmith's help to fake a magical birth, and cover up the origin of the baby. It is interesting to ponder which version could have existed first.
(Read multiple versions in the Nart sagas)
Aso and Ananse
While Ananse is most often known as the happy-go-lucky West African trickster figure, he also has quite an interesting history with his wife. Aso, a beautiful young woman, is married to a barren/impotent man, who hides her away from the world in jealousy. Ananse comes up with a plan to catch a glimpse of her - and once he does, he also finds a way to sleep with her, repeatedly. Aso soon becomes pregnant, and her enraged husband returns her to her family in disgrace. When she walks into the village, and points out Ananse as the child's father, he falls off a roof in surprise... Aso later marries Ananse, but in a very dark turn reflecting the values of the era the tale comes from, the out-of-wedlock child is killed by the family.
(Read the story in Akan-Ashanti Folk-tales)
One of my favorite - sad and beautiful - English ballads. Fair Janet gets pregnant out of wedlock, from Sweet William (don't you love ballad names), even though she is promised to someone else. She hides her pregnancy, and William's three sisters help her deliver the baby in secret, and take it home to his mother. The next day, Janet has to go to her own wedding; during the celebration, she asks William to a dance, and dies in his arms. He dies too, and they are buried together, with the obligatory ballad ending of intertwined plants growing on their graves.
(Read about the ballad here)
A Hungarian ballad, similar to the previous one. Echoing the Rapunzel story, it begins with a girls' skirt not fitting right - it is short in the front and long in the back (meaning she is pregnant). She first blames the seamstress, but when she is found out, she is condemned to death. She sends off a letter to the noble boy who got her pregnant, and he shows up, but too late, and kills himself from sorrow (because ballads). There are several versions of this ballad, and they portray very well the desperation of the young girl trying to hide her condition.
(Listen to an old lady singing this ballad, with lyrics in English and Hungarian, here)
Any other stories I should add to the list?