You really don’t want to know what the original version of Snow White was like.
In J.M. Barrie’s novel, Peter Pan is actually a murderer.
Specifically, he kills the Lost Boys to stop them getting any older. Barrie writes “The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.” Woah, no need. Also J.M. Barrie really needs to learn what full stops are.
And the original Pinocchio kills Jiminy Cricket.
Pinocchio first appeared in a 19th century newspaper serial called The Adventures of Pinocchio, and in the story the puppet-boy is joined by a character called “Talking Cricket”….which he kills with a hammer. “At these last words, Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket…With a last weak ‘cri-cri-cri’ the poor cricket fell from the wall, dead!” What a dick.
The prince in the Brothers Grimm version of Snow White is basically a necrophiliac corpse-thief.
The original version is called “Snow Drop“; in it, Snow Drop chokes on a piece of the evil queen’s apple and appears to die, so the dwarves put her in a glass coffin in a clearing. When the prince stumbles across her, he’s captivated so he GOES TO THE DWARVES TO ASK IF HE CAN HAVE HER CORPSE. They’re like WTF no, so he steals it instead. As the prince’s underlings were transporting the coffin, the piece of apple dislodged and she woke up, so the prince married her. Weirdo.
And Sleeping Beauty is just as twisted.
In the Giambattista Basile version of the story, Aurora isn’t woken up by a kiss, she’s jolted awake by the birth of her twins…which were conceived while she was asleep. Her rapist (the “charming” prince) didn’t want her to wake up because he’s married, so he just leaves her in the forest. When a confused Aurora goes in search of her children’s mystery dad, the prince’s wife tries to kill them all. Literally no one is nice in fairy tales.
The original Esmerelda is hanged, and Quasimodo dies of starvation while hugging her corpse.
In Victor Hugo’s original version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Esmeralda is hanged by Frollo, who laughs while he does it. Quasimodo arrives slightly too late to save her, and sees her body twitching on the scaffold. After killing Frollo, Quasimodo finds Esmerelda’s corpse in a mass grave, lies down with his arms around her body, and eventually dies of starvation. Lovely.
Aladdin is a dick in One Thousand And One Nights.
In the original story, Aladdin is so utterly lazy that his father actually dies from disappointment, but he still doesn’t get a job, so his mother takes on extra work to support them both. Later in the story, Aladdin sneaks into the palace bathhouse to spy on Jasmine (Badroulbadour). He’s stuck by her naked beauty and vows to win her as his bride. When Badroulbadour marries someone else, he gets the genie to kidnap her, then sleeps with her. Dickkk.
Bambi is shown a man’s corpse in the original novel.
The Disney movie is based on a story called Bambi, a Life in the Woods, a 1923 Austrian novel written by Felix Salten. In it, Bambi’s mother dies, his friends also die, and at the end of the book his father (a stag called the old Prince) shows him the dead body of a man who was killed by another man while he was out hunting. Bambi’s father then (you guessed it) leaves Bambi and goes off to die too. Sweet dreams, kids!
In an early version of Beauty and the Beast, the Beast sleeps with Belle, and her sisters drown her.
It’s an very old version of the folktale, called “The Little Broomstick“, collected by Ludwig Bechstein. In it, the Beast shares Belle’s (called Nettchen in this version) bed at nights while she’s imprisoned. After he transforms into a handsome prince, her sisters become jealous and drown her in a bath. But (on the bright side? Possibly?) they’re turned into stone columns as a form of punishment by the same enchantress that transformed the Beast.
Mulan is forced to become a concubine, and so she kills herself to escape her fate.
In Chu Renhuo’s Romance of the Sui and Tang (1675), Mulan returns from the war to find her father has died while she was away. The Turkic Khan who rules her area, having heard on the grapevine that she’s actually a woman, summons her to his palace to become his concubine. But Mulan commits suicide on her father’s grave rather than betray his memory by becoming a sex slave. Cheery.
Hercules kills Megara…and their kids.
In Seneca’s Hercules Furens, written in around 54CE, Megara is given to Hercules as a gift by her father, the King of Thebes. It goes relatively well for a while, but then the vengeful goddess Hera sends Hercules insane. He kills his three children, and Megara. The play ends with Hercules realising the terrible thing he’s done and falling into a state of grief-stricken remorse…which is a bit of a bummer, frankly.
Tarzan really wants to get off with an ape.
In Edgar Rice Burrough’s Jungle Tales of Tarzan, the adopted wild-boy has a childhood playmate-ape called Teeka, but when he reaches puberty he develops strong feelings for her. In the book, the apes are real apes, not wise-cracking gorillas. Tarzan gets insanely jealous and ends up fighting another ape called Taug for the right to mate with Teeka. Which is all kinds of strange and very, very un-Disneylike.
And in one of the (many) proto-folk tales that influenced what became Cinderella, she marries her father.
In the very old story “Allerleirauh” (All Kinds Of Fur) collected by the Brothers Grimm, a king is widowed and vows to only marry a woman who was as beautiful as his wife. So he settles on his daughter, who disguises herself using furs to escape his attentions. In the 1812 version, her father sees through her disguise when he sees her pretty hands: “it was his most lovely bride (who) then he married, and they lived happily ever after.” Urgh.
Childhood = ruined.
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