Briar Rose

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Yolen’s heroes and heroines are inspired by fairy tales; however, they still reflect the reality which surrounds them.

In Yolen’s Briar Rose, heroes and heroines are inspired by fairy tales still reflecting the reality which surrounds them. This is seen, for example, in her characters who are inspired by fairy tales. In reality, these characters represent the real life experiences of those who lived through the Holocaust and the heroes of World War two. The heroes and heroines in Yolen’s Briar Rose include; Gemma, Becca, Josef and Aron, real people who experience real living moments which are incorporated in the allegorical nature of the novel. Amongst the allegorical tale, the element of good triumphing over evil, where life is won only after life-threatening difficulties, is evident. The horrifying experience of the Holocaust is intertwined with the compelling story of Sleeping Beauty where the inspiration of heroes and heroines come about whilst still reflecting reality.

Briar Rose is an allegory of Gemma’s life. Gemma, the main princess or “Ksiezniczka”, is inspired by Sleeping Beauty. Gemma is Briar Rose “She thinks – she believes she once lived in a castle! The true…Sleeping Beauty in the Wood.” Throughout the novel we are exposed to three different stories, Gemma’s reality, her fairy tale, and Josef’s story. Gemma’s retelling of the Briar Rose story is one way of looking at the dreadful reality which she cannot communicate directly to her family as the horror would be too intense for the children. Whilst telling her story, symbolism is used to portray the inner horrors of Gemma’s reality. The bad fairy represents the Nazis and the SS, other sleepers in the castle equal the other prisoners at the death camp, sleeping mist symbolising the exhaust gas which kills the prisoners and the Beauty being awoken by a kiss from a prince symbolising the reality of Josef resuscitating her. Gemma is seen as a heroine as she was the only one, out of...
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