Briar Rose Analysis

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Fairy tales are characterized by their happy endings. In “Briar Rose” by the Grimm Brothers this is seen in Briar Rose’s marriage to the prince. Jane Yolen’s version of Briar Rose, however, differs greatly from the Grimm Brothers’ in answering what a happy ending implies. Yolen does not shy away from the trauma that Gemma, a Holocaust survivor, endures and subsequently, how it changes the way she deals with her past. In her version of Briar Rose, she transforms into a princess woken by true love’s kiss—not a lucky victim of gassing. The truth of the events does not disappear, it is only twisted into a form that Gemma can bear to pass down to her grandchildren. In fact, the parallels between the classic “Briar Rose” and Gemma’s version represent the way she copes with her trials and tribulations.…show more content…
In the original “Briar Rose,” the Grimm Brothers describe the palace as “surrounded and hidden, so that not even the roof or the chimneys could be seen” (Grimm). This visual image represents a place of darkness and depravation which Yolen then transforms into Gemma’s Chelmno. Though the concentration camp is now a castle, Gemma is unable to completely distance herself from her experiences. She describes the thorns “as sharp as barbs” (Yolen 76), a reference to the barbs surrounding concentration camps. In one particular instance, she recites a poem referencing kidnappers in the tale of Briar Rose. When she is called out by a child, she says, “What do you know about Briar Rose?” (Yolen 117). This questions builds a direct connection between Gemma and Briar Rose. She is no longer simply telling a tale—she is living it. Though Gemma chooses to never explicitly speak of her experiences, it is clear from her repetition of a single fairy tale that she wants her story to be
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