Literature / Melisande

Melisande: or, Long and Short Division is a comedic fairy-tale by E Nesbit.

The story begins with the birth of princess Melisande on a fictional island. The Genre Savvy king and queen, deciding not to have a christening party to avoid offending any accidentally uninvited fairies, offend them all, and Melisande is cursed to be bald. Coming of age, she makes a slightly ill-advised wish for fast-growing hair, which quickly makes her life hell, until her beloved Prince Florizel finds a clever solution. Said solution, however, has an even worse side-effect, which takes even more brains to solve...

It can be read online here..

Melisande contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of "Sleeping Beauty", "Rapunzel" and fairy tales in general.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Melisande, while miles tall, manages to disarm the invading army completely (although she does her best not to kill or hurt anyone.)
  • Bald Women: Melisande in her early life, thanks to Malevola's curse.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For
  • Blessed with Suck: Melisande's fast-growing hair.
  • Curse: Luckily, only one of the 700-odd fairies successfully delivered her curse, thanks to the King's quick thinking.
  • Damsel in Distress: First played straight, and then later inverted as Melisande single-handedly saves her entire island from attack.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses
  • Fairy Godmother: Fortuna F for the king. She provides the wish for Melisande, and her cryptic reference to "scales" makes the happy ending possible.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Nesbit has riotous fun with many a fairy tale trope, most obviously from Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.
  • Genre Savvy: Practically everyone. For example, the king and queen deliberately refuse to hold a christening party, knowing what happened to the Sleeping Beauty. When all the fairies are furious that they weren't invited, and they want to curse the princess, the king points out that traditionally, only one of them can curse the princess or they'll go out "like a candle-flame". He's more or less bluffing, but since the evil fairy Malevola already did the cursing, they decide not to risk it, thank the queen for a lovely afternoon, and leave.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Of course, the hair comes later.
  • Love at First Sight: Melisande and Florizel.
  • Magic Pants: Lampshaded; when the princess grows to enormous size, it's mentioned that things could have been quite inconvenient if her clothes hadn't grown with her.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Melisande (at her mother's bidding) wishing for her hair to grow twice as fast with every cutting.
    • Florizel's first solution to Melisande's hair issues only creates a worse problem: she grows instead.
  • Papa Wolf: The king, when seven hundred fairies are attempting to put curses on his daughter. He manages to stop all but one with a savage bluff.
  • Rapid Hair Growth: Princess Melisande is cursed at birth to be bald. When she grows up she is given a magical wish, and at the prompting of her mother requests long, lovely, fast-growing hair. The result is the Rapunzel Hair from hell.
  • Rescue Romance
  • Revenge SVP
  • Shout-Out: To another Prince Florizel from The Winter's Tale.
  • The Fair Folk