Saturday, April 16, 2016

From Whence Came the Roses

When we went back to Anderson's original Snow Queen tale one element that really jumped out was Snow Queen, roses show up in many others including the Red Shoes, (not one of my favorite tales!) at the end when the angel shows up in the room with the girl, (now footless) and also pious; and touches the walls and ceiling with a rose, transforming them into a church.--

the repetition of roses within the tale. -- This wasn't just confined to Anderson's

 So... roses were a major theme in Anderson's mind, and they definitely come out in the Snow Queen. First the childhood friends Gerda and Kai either play together in their rose gardens, or lean over the rose planted window boxes in their second story bedroom windows.

 Later when Gerda is searching for her friend she comes to a house where the lady wants to keep her, so the lady makes all her roses go underground so Gerda will not see them and remember the friend she's searching for. Gerda's tears wakes one the bushes and the rose comes back topside, and tells her that Kai is not buried, for it would have known if he was in the ground. (Anywhere, I guess... the ground is a lot more communicative than we suspected, apparently.)

 So, roses had to play a part in our tale as well... and as I wrote they began to unfold into a sort of symbol of our Princess Girthild's enthusiasm and zest for life in spite of life's obvious drawbacks. Early in the story "Girta" plays in the garden alone, trying to walk the stone wall of the rose beds. She slips and falls headfirst into the thorny bushes, but when her Nurse pulls her out and scolds her Girta appears more disappointed in her failure to complete the challenge than the fact that she is scratched and her dress torn.

 So here they could be viewed as symbolizing life, and possibly illustrating one of the chief differences between the royal sisters. Ilise focuses mostly on the painful, sad parts of life and draws away more than she should, hiding from it all.... while Girta disregards any risk, ignores the possibility of downsides, and rushes headlong into life, blithely certain that her force of will alone will make things turn out right.

 (Both are of course quite wrong, but how they come to deal with that is another, longer, story.)

 Later nurse sets Girta to snipping blossoms as a distraction, and Girta is enchanted with the prospect of going all over the castle giving roses to all the guards.
 (This childish eagerness to distribute gifts could be seen as more than a simple pastime, perhaps the roses are standing in for the love that Girta wishes to receive, and so she hurriedly hands it out to anyone she can reach?)

 When Girta leans over the castle wall and sees young Kai, she throws him roses too... she doesn't differentiate at all whom she reaches out to. (This could be seen as foreshadowing... unknowingly desperate to be loved, she gives it eagerly without the usual precautions.)

When another boy visits Girta eagerly fetches roses for both Ilise and the visitor, blithely handing Ilise a red rose and the visitor a yellow one. Ilise, conditioned to Girta's excitability, simply accepts the gift, but the boy rejects the yellow rose, citing the thorns. Girta is dismayed, but the repercussions of the boy's act will echo long into adulthood for him.

 Later, when she is grown, both she and Ilise are presented with golden jewelered roses, their petals gilded with enamel to look like perfect reproductions of  the original.
 Ilise receives a white one, the color of innocence, purity and sincerity; but unconsciously mirrors the cool frosty world in which she exists. To her the gift means little, it is simply a trinket presented by a visitor.

Girta's is crimson red; the color of fire, exuberance, and of course, passion. This rose begins to take on more and more meaning in her mind as the tale progresses, until the reader could almost think that she sees it as the return on all the roses, and love, she gave away throughout her childhood. They have come back to her, condensed into a rose that will never die, a love preserved, forever.
 Toward the end of the tale her view on it changes again, but if there is one thing consistent about Girta, it's changeability.

 Later, when Girta is hotly pursuing her search, she comes to the Rose House, which we left with exactly that name. It seems logical that a lady so devoted to growing the flowers would happily christen her home in the same vein. When further along in the story we encounter the only inn in the nearby village of Rasnaburg; called "the Rooster and the Rose", it is not hard to imagine that the lady of Rose House also owns the inn. Possibly this fascination with the flower is a familial thing, since the inn and the house have most likely worn their names for several generations.

 When at last Girta hotly discards the crimson enamel rose, it is a gift she will not receive again. In time she will recognize it on the gown of another, and she herself will receive a rose of a different color. It is true that sometimes the things we are so certain will make us happy are the very things we throw away, but then can their loss truly sting if they were not really meant for us? One beautiful thing can be admired by many, but truly belong only with the perfect match.

 And Girta's zest for life is not done yet, not by a long shot.
She is much more than any color of rose, and her check-mate is yet to come.

 (Scroll through the Pinterest boards for more inspiration for the Thaw books!
  Winter's Child board.

  Winter Queen board.
   Prince of Demargen board.)

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