The Stars & (Metamorphic) Stripes
Animal transformation plays a role in many fairy tales, though “The Tiger’s Bride” by Angela Carter turns the creature-to-human trope on its head. Similar to Beauty and the Beast, this is a story about a woman’s captivity at the hands of a monstrous character – in this case a tiger. Rather than the standard “beast regains his humanity” ending, the woman chooses instead to accept her animal nature, transforming into a tigress mate. The work first appeared in Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, of which she opines:
“My intention was not to do ‘versions’ or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, ‘adult’ fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories.”
An altogether different take on humans changing into animals is Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer prizewinning graphic novel Maus, in which a father mouse, Vladek, relates his experiences as a Holocaust survivor in Nazi-occupied Poland to his son. Here animals are used as representations of humans to further the novel’s visual effect: Jewish people are depicted as mice (victims), Nazis as cats (tormentors) and non-Jews as pigs (conspirators). Spiegelman’s father, the real-life Vladek, died in 1982, 37 years after he was liberated from Auschwitz.
Nautical By Nature
The Japanese anime Princess Tutu depicts characters of an unfinished book escaping into the world after its author’s death. The escapees, a noble prince (Mytho) and an evil raven, battle until Mytho’s heart shatters, pieces of it imprisoning his foe. The task of restoring the prince’s heart falls to a character named Duck who transforms into the titular princess. Of note, the parameters regarding her transformations: duck to girl when she touches water, girl to duck when, for lack of a better rule, she quacks. The program lasted two seasons, its main director Junichi Sato one of the driving forces behind the popular 90s anime Sailor Moon.
This fairy-tale file brought to you by editorial assistant Nathaniel Hurley and poetry editor Jon Riccio.