Fairer-Than-A-Fairy: Wicked Faeries in Fairytales

Fairer-than-a-Fairy is a story found in Andrew Lang’s Yellow Fairy Book.    It is one example of wicked faeries in the fairytales.  The wicked fairy in Fairer-than-a-Fairy takes a young princess away from her father in anger over the fact that she was named Fairer-than-a-Fairy.   Her name was viewed as insulting to the faeries!   This is in many ways a tale of knowing your place, and learning true respect.    Giving a child a name that insulted the Faeries, or the Gods, is the utmost of hubris, and the child was punished in this tale.    Unfortunately children are punished for their parents mistakes more often than not!

Another important example is of course in one of my all time favorite fairytales Sleeping Beauty!    Maleficent, as Disney named her, is the ultimate fairytale example of wicked faerie.   Her name actually comes from the word malicious, as in having evil intent!   She of course was shown as a more complex and redeemable character in the live action films made about her.     This does not negate her wicked beginnings, however, as she still wanted to kill a young princess out of vengeance.   

Sleeping Beauty is important because it showcases not only wicked faeries, but also good faeries!    Aurora is raised by three good faeries, who call her Briar Rose (in the Disney version).    This vision of fay beings having both positive and negative qualities is a very fair one.    After all every species on the planet is capable of both good and evil deeds!    I adore being able to see the dichotomy of good and wicked in Sleeping Beauty!

There are also wicked dwarves (a type of earth fay) in tales like Snow White and Rose Red.    The dwarf terrorized the titular characters (even when they only tried to help him).  In the end the wicked dwarf is thwarted; and the prince who had been cursed (into a bear) was returned to his human form!

There are other examples, but probably too many for a single post, so I will leave off with these three!    I hope you have enjoyed reading my analysis of wicked faeries!    Let me know you thoughts, and your favorite wicked faeries, in the comments below! 

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Disney’s Maleficent.   I found the image on hookedonhallmark.com.

Further Reading

  • Fairer-than-a-Fairy~ The Yellow Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang
  • The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood~ The Blue Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang
  • Snow White and Rose Red by The Brothers Grimm