The Frog King or Iron Heinrich part 3


Just an aside, new on the BSBSD (bedside bookstack of doom) is Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaardner, which looks like it’ll be wonderful. I’ll let you know when it bubbles to the top.

And check out Art Passions’ post on The Frog Prince. The picture below is by Anne Anderson, and is taken from Art Passions.


At the end of the the last post we had looked at the princess playing with a ball beside the well, we had looked at the frog’s demands and princess’s promise, and why she didn’t mean it. Finally, we looked at why it was the king, her father, who held her to that promise. Today we’ll look at the end of the Frog King part of the story: the Princess, enraged at the frog’s demand to share her bed, throws the frog against the wall (or in other versions cuts the frog’s head off or attempts to) and the frog becomes a prince. As Art Passions points out, “This solved her dilemma between having to obey her father the king and being repeatedly grossed out by a gallant (and somewhat stalkerish) amphibian whom she had to allow to drink out of her cup, eat off her plate and be carried by her to her bedroom.”

I think the anger that the Princess feels in the story is a key to the meaning of this part of the story. She is repulsed by the frog, but she does go along with allowing the frog to eat from her plate and drink from her cup. She draws the line at sharing her bed. It’s not a great hop to see this frog who wants to share a princess’s bed in a sexual light. So, 1) why the anger? 2) why does killing the frog turn it into a prince? 3) what does it mean that the prince is an acceptable partner while the frog is not?

Why the anger? Certainly if a frog were insisting on sharing my bed I’d be angry, especially if I suspected his intentions were less than honorable. But I really think here of a child learning about sex: “HE PUTS WHAT? WHERE?!?”

My feeling is that this is anger at the loss of childhood playfulness. This frog is all business, and all about an intrusive sexuality–and that leads us to an answer to the third question, so I’ll leave aside the second one for a moment. The difference between the frog and the prince isn’t just all looks, though that’s part of it. The Prince, remember, had beautiful friendly eyes in the 1857 Brothers Grimm version of the story (he was just a “handsome young prince” in the 1812 version). After the transformation, the two “fall asleep together with pleasure” in the 1812 story. By 1857 “he was now, according to her father’s will, her dear companion and husband.” Either way, he was a partner, both sexually and in the sense of having a human relationship. In effect, she has rejected adult sexuality unless it’s in the context of an adult relationship.

So I guess what she’s done by killing the frog is to assert control. “Sex is on my terms.” She does away with the user, the immature male who wants only sex.

You could look at this from a Freudian standpoint, too. Here the frog would be the princess’s own phallic striving–her desire for aggressive sexuality or masculine assertiveness. And that frog must die in order for her to have a mature feminine relationship with a prince.

OK. Next post is the Iron Heinrich story. What does it mean and why is it part of this fairy tale? Wish me luck.


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