In the meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy reading about . . .
The loving figure of the Fairy Godmother has become so popular in our current fairy tale culture that we all-too easily forget her abnormality among the hosts of the fey. Until her, who among the fairy folk every showed any concern for the well being of a human? Most fairies couldn't care less for humans and many of them are overtly malevolent!
But the Fairy Godmother takes a keen interest in the comfort and social security of her godchild. Indeed, one might even be led to believe that she, immortal, otherworldly creature though she is, might truly love the mortal for whom she assumes the maternal mantle!
The Fairy Godmother was first introduced to the literary world via the pens of Madame d'Aulnoy and Charles Perrault. A supernatural being, she sometimes assumes the form of an animal or is imagined to be the spirit of a dead mother. The original Grimm's fairy tale version of Cinderella, for example, envisions the classic fairy godmother as a white bird that builds its next in a certain hazel tree which grew of Cinderella's mother's grave. That bird kept an eye on Cinderella as she grew. And when the time came for her to make her bid for freedom and attend the ball without her stepmother's blessing, she went out to the hazel tree and cried:
Shake and quiver, little tree,
Throw gold and silver down to me.
Then the bird threw a gold and silver dress down to her, and slippers embroidered with silk and silver. She quickly put on the dress and went to the festival.
For the most part, however, the fairy godmother takes the form of a woman. Sometimes she is an older woman, as suited to her maternal role. The classic Disney vision of a fairy godmother has always tended this direction, both with Cinderella's fairy godmother:
And Sleeping Beauty's three fairy godmothers:
Other times, she takes on a more beautiful form, serving as an admirable mentor. This is more the vision Charles Perrault painted for his fairy godmothers: women well-connected with influence enough to see their protégées properly established in society, i.e. wed to the prince.
The Fairy Godmother is not universally good either, at least not always from the perspective of our heroines. For instance, in Madame d'Aulnoy's story The Blue Bird, the Fairy Godmother works to aid the heroine's evil stepsister, attempting to destroy the heroines hopes of marrying the hero. I'm sure from that Fairy Godmother's perspective, she is doing the right thing, seeing to the welfare of her godchild. From our perspective, though, she's a pretty scary cookie!
For the most part, however, we can look upon the Fairy Godmother as a figure of love and support in times of need.
There are so many Fairy Godmothers in popular fiction today, I couldn't even begin to mention all of them. Who is your favorite Fairy Godmother? Perhaps in a retelling of Cinderella? Or a movie or TV show? I'm curious to know what you know!