"The Snake Princess" in Marie Campbell, Tales from the Cloud Walking Country, pp. 151-55.  Collected by Campbell in Kentucky in the 1930s. Told by Uncle Tom Dixon in E. KY.  The roles in Whitebear Whittington are reversed in this tale of a boy who dies while helping break the evil spell on an enchanted snake.  The Snake Princess then revives and marries him.  During a visit home, he breaks his promise to never wish her off the Golden Mountain.  He must travel and overcome three giants before he can return to his Snake Princess in her castle on the Golden Mountain.  This tale told in the 1920s and '30s seems racist to today's readers, with "little black men" in far-off lands who trick the boy's father into giving his child to him, and later torment the boy to death as he tries to rescue the enchanted princess.

"The Bewitched Princess" in Ruth Ann Musick, Green Hills of Magic (1970; rpt. Parsons, WV: McClain, 1989) is also about a man marrying a snake that is an enchanted princess. The snake stops him from killing himself when he couldn't find a wife and he follows her instructions for organizing a wedding even though there is no woman visible at first. 

See also:

"The Girl That Married a Flop-Eared Hound-Dog," in Marie Campbell, Tales from the Cloud Walking Country (Indiana UP, 1958.  Rpt. Athens:  U of George Press, 2000).  This unusual variant of the animal-groom tale features a king so addled by a talking hound-dog that he lets it marry his youngest daughter.  The bewitched groom appears as "a natural man" at his wedding, since the nice girl is willing to marry him of her own free will.  After 3 visits to her family's home, the wife, who gives in to her sisters' threats and reveals that her husband's secret name is Sunshine on the Dew, must travel 3 nights to recover her husband and babies.  Reprinted in Catherine Peck, ed.QPB Treasury of North American Folktales (New York:  Quality Paperback Book Club, 1998).

In Whitebear Whittington and The Frog King, the heroines go to live in mysterious houses with husbands who have been turned into animals.

See Noteworthy Girls in Jack Tales for other tales in which smart girls help Jack or aid in their own rescue.

Compare with:

The Enchanted Snake, an Italian tale from Andrew Lang's The Green Fairy Book (1892) is reprinted with background, illustrations and links to many related tales and literature, at Sur La Lune Fairy Tales by Heidi Anne Heiner. In this tale a childless couple adopts a talking snake and helps it find a princess to marry. The snake, after completing tasks set by the king, reveals itself to the princess but the king and queen burn his snake skin. He flies away in the form of a dove and the princess goes to find and save him, disguised as a peasant.

The Snake Prince, a tale of India from Andrew Lang's The Olive Fairy Book (1907) is also reprinted at Sur La Lune Fairy Tales. A princess loses her husband when he reveals that he has been turned into a snake. By luring and facing the Queen of Snakes and her entourage, the princess gets her prince back later.

See pages on Whitebear Whittington and The Frog King for links to other tales about enchanted animal husbands or wives.

This page created: 8/31/02      Top of Page     Last update:  09/01/02


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