A Reflection on Two Fairy Tale Analogies

SimonBarreBrisebois on Twitter: "Thoughts regarding a Season 1 detail in  #TwinPeaks. A possible short friendship between Audrey Horne & Laura Palmer  before the series start… https://t.co/l7KFjqb09M"

We know Orpheus has a connection with Twin Peaks. I have talked about the connection the Kore/Persephone Myth has with Maddie’s story, but I also notice a few connections to fairy tales and Twin Peaks as well.  Now, many may think that this is an unrelated connection, and I would agree that Lynch and Frost probably didn’t even draw inspiration from the fairy tales in question to these characters, nor would they know that one even existed as a fairy tale.  Nevertheless, there are almost certain stories and symbols that enter the collective subconscious, fairy tales are one, as they have so many variants across the world. There are more than 700 variations of Cinderella, or a Cinderella-like story across the world, and no one really knows how they spread throughout the world, especially to cultures so far distant as some Native American nations.  So there has to be a common collective subconscious to these stories.  Laura’s story is very like the Thousand Furs tale and Audrey has many many connections to two different versions of Sleeping Beauty.  I will summarize the fairy tale then proceed to explore the connection to their individual character.

Thousand Furs

Allerleirauh by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939 (Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons)

Thousand Furs, or also known as Donkey Skin or Catskin, is a tragic tale.  A king and his queen are eagerly awaiting the birth of their child but, when the day comes, the queen, whom the king loved with all his heart, dies in child labor, after the successful delivery of a little princess.  Before she dies, she makes the king swear that he will only ever remarry the one who looks just like her, as the queen was known for her extraordinary beauty.   After his advisors beg him to remarry and fruitlessly present him with suitors, the king spies a beautiful young woman in the gardens who is a ringer for his dearly departed queen. Inevitably, she is his daughter who he had never laid eyes on since her mother’s demise.  He is determined to marry her, much to the consternation of his advisors and horror of his daughter, who now feels cornered to acquiesce. To hold off his advances, she feints to avoid this doom by asking for increasingly more difficult to obtain presents for her dower/trousseau/bride gift: three ball gowns and three trinkets.  The last request being alternatively, a cape made out of the skin of the king’s treasured donkey or a coat constructed of a piece of skin of one representative of each animal species in the kingdom.  The king comes through for each and every one of them.  

On the night before her wedding, she gathers her trinkets and her new gowns (all stored in little walnut shells), dons rags and the coat, and runs away through the dense woodland and ends up in a distant land, where she is “rescued” by a local prince, who sees her in her ragged clothes and assumes her a servant.  Finding a “place” in the palace kitchens, she slaves away as less than a scullion, becoming known, though, for the delicious soup she makes. When the prince holds three nights of balls, the story takes a Cinderella-like turn as the princess begs to “watch the guests arrive,” goes back to her hovel and transforms herself back into a princess by donning one of her dower gowns.  She dances one dance with the prince, leaves, re-attires herself in the rags and coat and go to the kitchen to make the prince his evening soup in which she slips one of her trinkets (one being a ring) which the prince discovers and questions her.  The last night, though, the prince keeps her behind as he’s falling in love with her; so she doesn’t have time to re-attire herself appropriately, only able to slip her coat over her gown.  When the prince calls her for the nightly questioning, he notices a glint of ball gown and the “soup” ring that he had secreted on her while dancing.  He was getting suspicious about the princess and the Thousand Fur servant being one and the same.  She is revealed and tells her tale, they marry immediately. 

Laura Palmer | Twin Peaks Wiki | Fandom

It seems interesting that this feels a lot like Laura’s story.  Laura is most definitely a princess in our head.  We see her in the Homecoming picture with her little tiara.  But she is a tortured princess with her father abusing her.  Though the king never goes as far as to rape his own daughter, as sex before marriage at that time was taboo, but still, just the mere thought that the king was going to go as far as marry his own daughter is telling about how much of a sticky situation the princess was in and how perverted the king’s own thoughts were.  Moreover, as Laura’s face turned into BOB’s in the train car, it seemed almost like a ‘wedding’ of Laura to her father.  A wedding that she rejected by dying.   We know also, that Laura is horrified once she discovers that BOB is her father.  It also makes me wonder about how much Leland was involved when Laura was a very little girl.  We know from the diary that he danced with her in the living room and she has a memory of them playing in the outdoors.  Did he “neglect” her to the raising of her mother, until she became old enough? 

Unfortunately, Laura doesn’t get Princess Thousandfurs’s endgame, even though both uses their own agency to release themselves from their incestuous circumstances: Thousandfurs by running away and Laura by dying.  This fairy tale is quite amazing because she is a heroine who does use her own ingenuity to ask for the complex presents and clothing items and the rather courageous means of escape.  Laura also used her ingenuity at every turn to keep herself alive and surviving for as long as she did.  

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Although, the very end of season 3, Parts 17 and 18, if some popular fan theories can be accepted (though largely I don’t, as I explore here), the latter end of the fairy tale does seem to come to fruition.  It seems that Laura did run away through a deep dark wood.  It seems that she may have changed her identity to Carrie Page, just as Thousandfur changed her identity from Princess to Thousandfur. It seems that she changes that homecoming queen crown and her financially comfortable life for the rags of working in a run down lackadaisical diner and a hovel of a house. Could the “prince” who sees through her rags and altered appearance, be Cooper?  Also an interesting exploration is that she directly asks whether or not she should grab a coat before Cooper and she leave the house for Washington State. 

The Sleeping Beauty, Two Versions

File:Magic lantern image, Sleeping Beauty part 2.JPG
Magic Lantern Image, Sleeping Beauty Part 2, by Alf van Beem (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons)

We all know that there is that one version of the tale where the king and queen are yearning for a child and it happens but she gets cursed to sleep for many years by an evil fairy until a prince awakens her.  There is though an even earlier variant of the tale, where the princess just gets a piece of flax in her finger and falls into her coma.  Then a king happens by and rapes her.  She wakes up only by the fact that one of her twins that she birthed in the midst of her coma, wakes her up by sucking on her finger releasing the poisoned flax.  

It’s interesting then that Audrey’s tale represents both versions of the tale.  It is also interesting that it’s mentioned as one of Johnny’s favorite tales in the Secret Diary.  In the original two seasons, her tale is very much like the most known and sanitized version.  Though she is not the treasured daughter of the fairy tale, Audrey is most definitely living in a rarefied castle-like atmosphere as the Great Northern seems to be.  When she goes to One Eyed Jacks, she is confronted by an Evil Fairy, Blackie.  There seems to be something of the Thirteenth Fey about Black Rose O’Reilly.  She uses her tarot cards like a witch.  She has her poisons. It’s interesting that she does use a needle pick to put Audrey to sleep.  It is also interesting that the whole of One Eyed Jacks is covered in rose wallpaper.  In the most sanitized version of the fairy tale, thorn bushes grow up around the castle of the Sleeping Briar Rose.  So it does seem that Audrey is surrounded by thorns while in One Eyed Jacks.  And of course, Cooper is the Prince who wakes her up and rescues her.  Even the camera shot that Graeme Clifford and Frank Byers used when Cooper is rescuing her, reminds one of a prince looking upon the sleeping princess, just like the two shots Disney did when the princes are awakening Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  The same kneeling pose for Cooper.  The same looking adoringly at the princess as she slumbers in a canopied bower.  The black turtleneck looks slightly like a doublet.  

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Though after this point, the Cooper-Audrey romance never shoots off into the stratosphere like some fans and a cast member or two would have wanted, but there is most definitely a prince waking the sleeping princess feel in that episode.  Throughout the rest of that season, Princess Audrey does heal and comes into her own. 

Then the second reading of the tale occurs.  She is still the princess in Episode 29, when she goes to the bank, as the two queens are most definitely in the Lodge, (Laura being dead, and Annie, the Miss Twin Peaks Queen is trapped by Windom Earle).  Therefore, Audrey is still a princess, and going to the bank.  Who knows how exactly the explosion caused her coma, but it would be an interesting parallel if some shrapnel did get inside her.  Then she is found by the prince again, but the evil version of the prince.  Instead of waking her to become herself again, he takes advantage of her and rapes her.  Who knows if she births Richard while in the coma.  According to the unreliable Final Dossier, she does wake up and tries to rebuild her life as a hairdresser and marries the pitiable Charlie.  But does she?  

The Final Dossier has not been known as the most reliable book, dropping stories at random and having an inconsistent narrative, Audrey’s being the most inconsistent as it seems there are two stories happening concurrently within her own file of the dossier.  So maybe she is still asleep, in her coma.  She is dreaming of being married to Charlie and having that pitiable life.  It is noticeable that her house doesn’t have a single bit of modern technology. Which means that Richard never knew either of his parents. 

In the less sanitized version, as well, once the princess awakens, she takes her children to find their father.  When she does, she is confronted by quite literally the ogre of a mother-in-law, who wishes to kill her and eat her children.  Therefore, it is also quite relevant that the episode that awakens her, is also the episode where the father of her son, causes his death in search of the coordinates to “Judy” otherwise known to some fans as “Mother.”   Could Richard’s death, also be the proverbial flax that is dug out of Audrey’s finger, causing her to awaken?

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Two fairy tales, though not confirmed to be influences on the Twin Peaks narrative, seemed to have similarities worth exploring.  I obviously do not expect Frost and Lynch to ever say that they took influences from The Sleeping Beauty and Thousand Fur.  And any tiny reference could have even the most tenuous and ridiculous connection to such a vast and complex show. As I’m often wont to say when I reject a post in the Twin Peaks Between Two Worlds group, A bit of Chevron or a random Blue Rose does not a connection make.  However, the similarities are so glaring as to make the connections and the similarities between Sleeping Beauty and Audrey and Thousand Fur and Laura worth exploring a little more in-depth.  Hopefully this has proved a rather interesting experience for you all as well. 

Author’s Note:

Both Fairy Tale retellings presented were retold from the author’s memory. Any variations on the tale that were not mentioned or elided are the author’s choice.

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