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...
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: Young Melisande regrets having wished for her hair to grow twice as fast every time it's cut, since dealing with all that hair has made her life impossible.
- 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.
- 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.