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The Lady & the Lion Summary

Instructor: Ivy Roberts

Ivy Roberts is an adjunct instructor in English, film/media studies and interdisciplinary studies.

This lesson describes the story of the Lady and the Lion as told by the Brothers Grimm. We will explore each episode and then discover facts about the characters and conflicts involved in this timeless tale.

Not Your Ordinary Boy-Meets-Girl Tale

''The Lady and the Lion'' by the Brothers Grimm is one of many versions of the classic tale of the beauty and the beast. The Grimm's (German) version is not the classic boy-marries-girl-and-lives-happily-ever-after sort of tale. The story is a patchwork of episodes borrowed from other tales. At its core, ''The Lady and the Lion'' is a story about a girl who's promised to an enchanted prince and the lengths that she goes to free him from the curse. But, on closer inspection, there is far more to this story than a classic tale of love and redemption.

Three Wishes And a Promise

The heroine of this adventure is known simply as 'The Lady.' She is the youngest of three daughters. She's daddy's little girl, his favorite child. When dad is called away on business, he promises to bring back to each of his daughters the gift of their choosing. The youngest daughter asks for a singing, soaring lark. Larks are a type of small songbird. In some cultures, in fact, the story of ''The Lady and the Lion'' is known as ''The Singing, Soaring Lark.''

Singing Meadow Lark
lark

On his return journey, the father finally comes across a singing, soaring lark. But unfortunately, the bird belongs to a lion. The lion agrees to sell the lark in exchange for a promise. Upon his return home, the man agrees to hand over to the lion the first thing that greets him upon arrival. As fate would have it, his youngest daughter rushes into her father's arms.

The Court of Lions

Lions are fierce, territorial animals. But in this story, they are transformed into proud, royal beasts. The youngest daughter agrees to the pact and goes to live with the lion in the forest.

Upon her arrival, the lion explains that he is an enchanted prince. He lives in an enchanted castle. During the day he takes the form of a lion but at night he is a man. The Lady and the Lion are soon married. Both are happy for some time.

The Lady and the Lion
lady and lion

Word soon reaches the Lady that her sisters are engaged to be married. She wants to return to her village to attend the weddings. When she asks for her husband's company, he reveals the hitch in the enchantment. If sunlight were to fall on his skin, he would transform into a dove cursed to fly around the Earth for seven years. He agrees to come to the wedding as long as precautions can be taken to assure his safety. The villagers construct a light-proof tent for the Lady's husband but, as fate would have it, a rogue ray of light breaks through the canvas tent. The prince transforms into a dove and flies away.

The Dove

Before parting her company, the dove promises to his Lady: ''For seven years I must fly about the world; every seventh step I will let fall a drop of blood and a white feather which will show you the way, and if you will follow the track you can free me.'' He flies fast; she follows faster.

When the seven years are nearly up, she loses his trail. The Lady begs for help from the Sun, the Moon, and the Night Wind. Each offers her a divine gift to help her reunite with her beloved husband. The Sun gives her a casket. The Moon gives her an egg.

The Night Wind advises her that she will find her husband at the Red Sea. He has already returned to lion-form. He is in the midst of a battle with a Dragon. The Lady must take a reed from the river and distract the Dragon. Then the Lion will win the battle, and he and the Lady can make a swift getaway on the back of a griffin. A griffin is a mythical creature with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion. The Night Wind gives the Lady a magical seed from which a nut tree will grow.

Griffin
griffin

With the Night Wind's help, the Lady saves the Lion. By beating the Dragon in battle, the Lion has broken the enchantments. The Lady watches as her husband returns to human form. But the Dragon is cunning. Returning to its true form, the Lady discovers that the Dragon is really the daughter of a powerful Sorcerer-King. She hops onto the back of the griffin, and flies away with the prince in her captivity.

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