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Literature / Melisande

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Melisande: or, Long and Short Division is a comedic fairy-tale by E. Nesbit with illustrations by P.J. Lynch.

The story begins with the birth of princess Melisande on a fictional island. The 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...

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Melisande contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Fair Folk: Seven hundred fairies that are trying to curse the princess.
  • Fairy Devil Mother: Malevola, who cursed Melisande to be bald.
  • 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: Melisande has - the text itself states - read Alice in Wonderland and knows to avoid crying on people when expanded to giant size.
  • 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.
  • One-Word Title: Protagonist Title of the Princess's name.
  • 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.
  • Protagonist Title: It's the princess's name.
  • 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.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Duh. Her hair's final length also qualifies, 5 feet 5.25 inches long, described to reach her ankles.
  • Rescue Romance: The prince wishes to marry Melisande, and she is certainly grateful enough to marry him by the time he's cured her intractible hair problem.
  • RevengeSVP: Seven hundred disgruntled, uninvited fairies are out to curse the princess.
  • Shout-Out: To another Prince Florizel from The Winter's Tale.


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