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But God himself comes to his help, appearing to him in the form of an aged zither player and giving him advice that enables him to save the black princess from her diabolical possession, and Rudolf becomes a king. We find numerous variants of this frivolous hero, such as “Brother Lustig”;21 they are often the favorites of God or of other helpful powers. It would sometimes seem as though a slight dig at conventional morality were intended; a childless queen who prays to a crucifix on the right side of the bridge remains childless; but after praying to Lucifer on the left side of the bridge she gives birth to the above-mentioned black princess, who, once redeemed, becomes the best and most beautiful of virgins. We can only conclude that it was more rewarding for the queen to pray to the Devil than to the crucifix. In a Low German fairy tale, “The Black Princesses,” we even read how holy water and prayer impede the deliverance of the black princesses. And numerous farces in which Saint Peter, Jesus, and God himself appear, seem to burlesque man’s conscious conceptions of them, or, one might say, to compensate for their sublimity by reducing them to the level of the all-toohuman. And what of “Snow White and Rose Red,”22 in which the innocent maidens are misled by their kindness into helping a malignant dwarf who calls for help when his beard gets wedged in a tree trunk or caught on a fishing pole. But in so doing they only endanger themselves and the future suitor, the bear who is in need of deliverance, until finally the bear puts an end to the nonsense and kills the evil dwarf with a stroke of his paw. Here the girls’ helpfulness is condemned as selfdestructive foolishness. And yet the very same naive kindness is recommended in the story of “Little Man Sponnelang,”23 in which an orphan girl, lost in the woods, meets a dirty little old man and at his request prepares a bath and bed for him and so delivers him. He makes her a present of his beard, which she spins into pure gold. This orphan girl treats the little man exactly as Snow White and Rose Red treated the dwarf, but in her case innocent kindness is rewarded. Another contradiction appears in the fact that some heroes and heroines perform their tasks by their own resources, whereas others attain their goals thanks to the intervention of helpful animals or divine-demonic powers. Thus it looks more and more as if we should have to content ourselves with purely paradoxical conclusions: the helpful factor may be courage, flight, naiveté, guile, kindness, hardness, pious gravity, or frivolity. And psychologists may

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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