Above is the last picture from our Gen Con photo collection, three gals dressed up in really beautiful, ornate costumes right in front of our booth. I wish I spent more time out of the booth, with my camera in hand, and attended the fashion show (although last year it was unbearably hot and long) because I love to see the handmade costumes. The picture has a wee little bit to do with an idea I am working on: girls and women in fairy tales.
Which leads me to the album I wanted to talk about, The Juliet Letters by Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet. The title and concept of the album is based on the phenomenon of lovelorn people writing letters to Juliet of Verona Italy. Juliet being the female lead in the Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet, of course. Apparently, in Europe, or Italy specifically, people write to the fictional character to express their love, broken heart, or ask for advise. Sort of like kids writing to Santa Claus at the North Pole. So the Verona Post Office probably has bags of letters intended for a person who does not exist, which I find quite charming and amazing.
This concept led to the Juliet Letters, which is one of my very favorite albums. Sorry, I don't have any clips for you, but you can hear it at the Amazon link if you like. The concept of the album is all about correspondence, every kind you can think of...a letter sent to a pop singer from a female soldier in war, graffiti, a suicide note, a chain letter from the Devil asking you to sign your soul away. Really, quite brilliant! I love albums that are so thoroughly considered conceptually. The sound is very unusual too...I have always been a huge Elvis Costello fan, so to hear him strike an almost operatic style is amazing, and to the sounds of a string quartet...It was really pretty groundbreaking for both a pop singer and classical musicians. Anyway, I highly recommend it.
So back to Juliet...As I mentioned, I am thinking about female characters in stories and fairy tales. And I am finding a hard time coming up with strong heroines. Juliet was not exactly what I would consider a very strong young woman, and much of that is based on the time period she lived in and the patriarchy of the times. I mean, she kills herself in the end... although I know that is supposed to represent the ultimate sacrifice for love, but really...she just met the guy and it was probably more of a lusty whirlwind romance. What were you thinking, girl? Is that cold hearted of me? Ah well...
So about strong heroines...I am fascinated by these right now, the few and far between that I am finding. So many girls and women in fairy tales either have to be rescued by a prince, or are the evil witch or other antagonist, or are matronly caregivers. On the other hand, there are the kick butt ladies and warriors of mythology who destroy men for being men. Or women like Sirens and Mermaids using thier sexuality to destroy men. That's not really inspiring to me either. I want to know about the young ladies who find themselves on an amazing journey, who work through the adventures using their strength, wits, and will! Who do not need to be rescued, but who can fall in love and develop friendships and maintain their spirits and souls in the meantime.
If you can think of any characters from stories who are like this, please leave me a comment. I am mainly looking for examples in classic fairy tales and children's stories, not contemporary ones (I think the heroine issue has been correcting itself in more recent years with more and more feminist writers seeing the need for it for young women) There are two that I am particularly obsessed with right now: Dorothy and Alice. Do you have any that you adore?