In many classic tales, there exists the iconic imagery of a beautiful young Maiden
accompanied by an older Maid.
It's an old archetype because in those days a woman going anywhere on her own is going to either a) have sex or b) be raped. The presence of a chaperon was intended to prevent the latter and discourage the former.
In this context, "Maid" doesn't mean "servant". It refers to more archaic connotations where it just implied an older woman. Hence the terms Old Maid
and Fair Maiden. Still The Maid may well be in the service of The Maiden.
The Maiden is more central to the story than The Maid. She may be The Ingenue
, a Princess Classic
, or a stubborn Plucky Girl
. Basically a Female Hero
appropriate for the time and place and audience. As such,
to be in a romantic plot.
The Maid will be the Maiden's confidante, sometimes a caretaker
, older relative
or just a good friend.
If it is indeed a romance, The Maid will be the matchmaker, occasionally playing Secret Keeper
if its a forbidden love.
Alternatively The Maid will be Older and Wiser
, warning The Maiden about the perils of rushing a relationship or blocking the male love interest.
Either because she's old, less attractive
, or her own romances (if any) are less important
, she's less desirable to the target audience.
Has a tendency to be fatter
than The Maiden also. But that doesn't mean she can't be a fan favorite.
Most common in romantic plays and musicals but the dynamic turns up in other mediums and genres too so they don't always have to be involved in a love story. If the characters sing, The Maid is either Mezzo or Alto, The Maiden is a Soprano.
Anime & Manga
- Sailor Moon has Luna, who was Usagi's guardian even way back during the Silver Millennium. Now, she also acts as advisor, much to Usagi's constant dismay.
- Disney Animated Canon / Disney Princess
- Sleeping Beauty kicked off the Disney universe with a bit of a subversion. Aurora was the Maiden, but the role of The Maid was split between three fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Future examples play it much straighter.
- Cinderella: The Fairy Godmother is the Maid who helps Cinderella, The Maiden. She's Older and Wiser, rounder, and by way of being a guardian angel is a 'servant' tied to Cinderella. The Fairy Godmother also gives her a sweet ride to the Ball behind the Evil Stepmothers back, and the iconic dress and shoes that entice Prince Charming.
- Beauty and the Beast: Mrs. Potts is the Maid to Belle the Maiden. She plays matchmaker in to break the curse. Technically she's actually Beast's servant, but gives Belle motherly support at the castle.
- Pocahontas: Grandmother Willow is the Maid to Pocahontas, The Maiden. Willow's a spirit that helps everyone who comes her way, but does try to steer Pocahontas from her intended in favor of John Smith.
- The Princess and the Frog: Grandma Odie is the Maid who helps Tiana The Maiden. She tries to get her together with Naveen as soon as they meet, and even marries them at the end. Despite being a little crazy, her role is a mix of the previous three Maids, being a helper to everyone in her realm like Willow, a matchmaker that breaks a curse like Potts, and a magical old lady that teaches tricks and gives gear like the Fairy Godmother.
- The princess in The Court Jester has an older maid/companion, who is a hypnotist.
- The Princess Diaries: Mia as the young princess-in-training and her grandmother the Queen who is overseeing it.
- Dot the robot (Maid) and Princess Vespa (Maiden) in Space Balls.
- Shakespeare in Love: Paralleling Romeo and Juliet, Nurse is a confidante and Secret Keeper for her mistress, Viola.
- In Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad, Magrat Garlick in the Maiden while Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg split the role of Maid. In the latter, this is subverted with Lilith, who acts the role of Maid to Ella but is actually exploiting her for her own ends.
- Despite her name, Maid Marion is actually The Maiden who is usually accompanied by an older Maid servant in most of the Robin Hood tales. In adaptations:
- In The Vampire Diaries, Bonnie has a close relationship with her grams and often seeks her out in times of crisis. Grams also acts as mentor when Bonnie's witch powers kick in.
- Romeo and Juliet: Trope Codifier, The Nurse is the Maid who plays Secret Keeper for Juliet the Maiden as she tries to get with Romeo.
- The Merchant of Venice: Nerissa is the Maid to Portia's maiden. They both even go undercover together as men and keep the same dynamic. Nerissa is also officially Portia's waiting maid.
- Beatrice's relationship with Hero in Much Ado About Nothing is somewhere between being the Maid and being a Cool Big Sis. Beatrice is slightly older than Hero and has a big-sisterly relationship with her. Beatrice also gives Hero some relationship advice and tries to protect her when Hero is slandered. The big difference is that Beatrice has her own plot rather that just being a side-character in Hero's.
- The Legend of Zelda: Fulfills the imagery with Impa as The Maid and Zelda as The Maiden. In some incarnations Impa totally fulfills the stereotype by being much older and portly and is officially Zelda's attendant. In other versions she's a Ninja Maid since the series is in the Action Adventure Genre. The romantic element if any is only hinted at here.
- Elderly, wise Wynne from Dragon Age is this to the Warden. She frequently dispenses advice on life and love, and provides a forum for the Warden to brood about The Chains of Commanding.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Jessica often talks about her love life and other woes to her servant and friend Shannon, who has a boyfriend (Jessica's own cousin George) while she doesn't. She is also the only one to know that Jessica loves Kanon, another servant, which her parents certainly wouldn't approve of. Played with a little in that Shannon is only more filled out in certain places, and though she's around the same age and not unattractive she Can't Have Sex, Ever.