We’re back in 1812 and 14 year old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin has just proudly finished the retelling of a story of hers in which a young girl triumphs and saves herself from the evils in which she finds herself in. There is general praise and applause from family and guests but of course, there are also some disgruntled responses. After-all how could a young girl possibly save herself? Are all girls not weak and faint-hearted and in desperate need to be saved by their prince?
From a young age, we are told of magical lands with fairies and evil stepmothers, dragons and fair maidens and of course, at the centre of each fairytale, a charming prince can be found, ready to save a maiden in distress at any given opportunity. Now, as poet C. J. Heck famously stated “We are a product of our surroundings,” and as we have all been hearing these stories since, well, forever, then naturally we are left with girls who feel they need to be rescued in order to find happiness, boys who feel they ought to be slaying some metaphorical dragon in order to gain the love of a girl and a nation of dissatisfied and unfulfilled people. Can we see the problem with this?
Can girls not slay dragons and can boys not admit that they may need some help every once in a while? I mean, we all need saving at some point in our lives, whether that is from evil stepmothers or the monsters all around us or even the thoughts inside our heads. It’s okay to ask for help from one another but it’s also equally important to know that we can help ourselves; we can fight our own battles and win our own wars.
In fairytales, there are knights in shining armours and there are young maidens in distress who need to be saved but the reality that Monstrous Bodies opens our eyes to, is that most of the time the maidens in distress become stronger and stronger until they are the knight in well-earned shining armour themselves.
It teaches us that we can all be the heroes of our own stories.
Written by Georgia Tatò - Assistant Assistant Director for Monstrous Bodies
Monstrous Bodies April 19th - May 6th at Dundee Rep Theatre