In the ancient fairy tale “The Princess in the Chest,” a brave soldier comes to an enchanted town. Hearing stories, he goes to the village’s small church where an unnameable creature stalks, covered in fur. As he fights for his life, the creature screams, weeps, sighs:
My father has set no sentry in,
War and Pest will now begin.
The creature is a Princess, a cursed princess, and the village is obliged to lock her in the church with a sentry every night (whom she kills, each and every night), lest she tear across the countryside spreading mayhem and murder.
Far from simple, the tale offers an arcane glimpse at what’s at stake in an age when Princesses are able to be enchanted: it’s a bloody time, uncertain and surreal. It’s a time that tries desperately to lock away its madness and its shadows, its curses and its murders.
But magic and enchantment are still there, saturating the pages of the story, still within reach, and it’s this that the soldier, a man of fortune, believes is worth fighting for. He stays and hides in the church to break the Princess’s curse to win her hand. He succeeds, of course; she transforms back into the beautiful young woman she was meant to be.
Enchantment comes at a steep price; it comes gory and frightening. It comes seeped in the horror of the ages. There is no Enchantment without its shadow, which is why we all love our bloody vampires and violent werewolves. Despite the obvious references to the ‘real world’, the Enchanted world masks a truer reality than all those pickets fences could hold at bay.