The Love Of Three Oranges is a wide-spread European Fairy Tale.
A prince, for some reason, is on a quest for wife. He finds a place where he is given three oranges — or citrons, or other fruit — and directed not to break them open until he has some water. When he breaks them open, a beautiful woman appears and asks for water. Twice he fails, and she dies or disappears, but the third time, he gives her water and wins her. He leaves her by a spring or other body of water so that she can be brought to his father in proper state, and while he's gone, an ugly slave sees the reflection, takes it for her own, and decides she's too pretty to be a slave. Then she realizes the beautiful woman is there, and tricks her into letting her transform her into a bird by driving a pin into her head. When the prince returns, she claims to have been magically transformed, and the prince dutifully returns with her. The bird interfers with the wedding festivities. Someone catches her, and draws out the pin, revealing the truth. The slave is punished, and the prince marries the woman.
Some variants include
- The Three Citrons — Italian, the oldest known variant.
- The Three Citrons of Love, a Portugeuse variant
- The Three Citrons, a Czech variant
- The Love of Three Oranges, another Italian one.
- The Enchanted Canary a French variant
The tale is used in Sergei Prokofiev's opera with the same title.
Tropes in these stories.
- Back from the Dead: In some variants, the slave kills her, and she returns a bird-ghost.
- Baleful Polymorph: Turning her back into a bird.
- Beauty Equals Goodness
- Bride and Switch: The slave pulls this after killing or transforming her
- Curse: One reason for his setting out.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: In one variant, why he sets out.
- The Fool: Something the prince's motive is just being too stupid not to try.
- Heroes Want Redheads: The oldest variant describes the beautiful woman as "white as cheese and red as blood" - the red is usually interpreted as red hair.
- Pride: The reflection really goes to the slave's head.
- The Promise: One reason for his setting out.
- The Quest: For the title fruit
- Rule of Three: There are always three fruit.