Damsel in Distress


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In " Biancabella and the Snake ", Biancabella has her hands cut off and her eyes gouged out , and is driven into exile from her husband. The snake, being her friend, restores her eyes, hands, and ultimately her place. In " Jorinde and Joringel ", Jorinde is turned into a nightingale by a Wicked Witch and held captive by her. Also in " The Three Princesses of Whiteland ". In " Soria Moria Castle ", the three princesses are held prisoner by three trolls and the hero must kill the trolls to rescue them.

In " The Young Slave ", the heroine is the illegitimate niece of a lord, whose wife finds her in enchanted sleep and, in a fit of jealousy , beats her, knocking loose the comb that had kept her asleep, and turns her into a slave, abusing her so severely she thinks of killing herself. One day, her uncle hears her lamenting her woes and saves her. Similarly in " The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead ", where the uncle's wife also burns the poor girl all over with a red-hot iron to make her ugly.

In " Prunella ", Prunella is a Wicked Witch 's prisoner and she assigns Impossible Tasks ; only with the help of the witch's son does she survive. In " The Grateful Prince ", the king promises his baby to an ogre, and so takes a peasant girl and leaves his son with peasants.

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All You Need to Know About the Classic Damsel in Distress

The ogre takes the girl and leaves, but the boy, on growing up, decides he can't possibly live on such a sacrifice and goes to rescue her. In The Love of Three Oranges , the heroine is transformed into a bird. In Soria Moria Castle , the princesses are captives of trolls. Also the three princesses he meets while searching for her. The King tries to rescue her, but the dwarf kills him, and she dies of a broken heart. Her rescue is the first Moment of Awesome of many.

Lampshaded and averted in Shrek , especially in a scene where Robin Hood and his Merry Men try to "rescue" Fiona from the ogre they believe has kidnapped her, only to have her rebuff him and beat up all his men in a combination of styles from Xena: Warrior Princess and The Matrix. And in Shrek Forever After , where in an alternate universe where Shrek was never born and never came for her, Fiona eventually decided to rescue herself.

Played straight at first but later subverted with Fiona in Shrek 4-D , who at first is helpless after Thelonius kidnaps her, but eventually gains the upper hand and beats him. Not that she minds Shows up often in Disney Animated Canon: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Snow White falls into an enchanted sleep after taking a bite from an apple given by the disguised Queen and is awoken with True Love's Kiss. Cinderella is locked in her room by Lady Tremaine in the third act and the mice bring up the key needed to unlock the door.

Aurora falls into an enchanted sleep after pricking her finger on the spinning wheel while hypnotized by Maleficent, and Phillip's final battle with assistance from the Three Good Fairies against Maleficent is to save her. Ariel is trapped by Ursula at the bottom of a vortex in the climax before Eric plows into Ursula with a ship. Return to the Sea when she's transformed back into a human and Morgana locks her up in unmeltable ice. Beauty and the Beast: Belle is rescued by the Beast from a pack of wolves after leaving his castle, which is what convinces her to return to said castle in order to patch up his injuries.

Jasmine is trapped in an hourglass slowly filling with sand during the final battle and nearly drowns in it until Aladdin breaks her out. Parodied in Disney's Hercules. Aren't you a damsel in distress? I can handle this. Have a nice day. The original film treated Fay Wray's Ann Darrow as nothing more than a prize for an evil gorilla. The film starts this way, but Jessica Lange's Ann Darrow gets to know King Kong, sees that he's lonely and forms a bond with the big guy.

Naomi Watts ' Darrow from the film takes the latter step further, and is more assertive in trying to stop a money hungry publicist from making Kong a circus attraction. The Ur-Example of this in film would probably be the protagonist of the silent melodrama serial The Perils of Pauline. A "talkie" version of the series was made in the '30s; the title was later used for a biopic of original Pauline actress Pearl White, and a film that was a camp spoof of the genre.

Pearl White also starred in a nearly-identical series, The Exploits Of Elaine , around the same time. A large number of Bond Girls fit this trope. For example, Honey Rider in Dr. No decides to execute her by cuffing her to the inclined side of a pool with water pouring in from a large pipe. Bond finds her and releases her.


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Bond's fellow agent Paula is kidnapped by a couple of Largo's thugs and taken to be tortured for information. Bond goes to Largo's estate to rescue her but arrives too late. Paula has taken a Cyanide Pill and killed herself so she can't be made to betray Bond and the operation. In the climax, Oberhauser kidnaps Madeline and traps her in a locked room in the old MI-6 building, which is set to be demolished and has already been rigged to blow.

Bond has to race through the building to save her life. Live Free or Die Hard attempts to make this one more feminist-friendly by having Lucy McClane reject this role at every turn. She is still helpless to physically resist, being an unarmed college student, but when the villain puts her on the phone with her dad , she simply tells him how many bad guys are left. John kills the villain Gabriel by shooting his own shoulder to hit Gabriel's heart, which frees Lucy and now that she is traumatized by John shooting his own shoulder on purpose just to save her, she becomes caring to her dad just like in the original Die Hard and her rebellious personality towards John now faded to dust.

Pirates of the Caribbean Ditto for Elizabeth Swann in the first film , except the feminist-friendly parts were added by the actress herself. Said actress gets a much more fitting role in the sequels. If Elizabeth is this in the first movie, then Will must be as well, because he ends up having to be rescued from the exact same situation. She manages to instigate his rescue despite being marooned on a deserted island, and then actively fights alongside him in the final battle. Played straight and then subverted as said damsel takes a level in badass over the course of the movies.

It gets lampshaded by Jack when he refers to her as "a certain damsel in distress Or should I say distressing damsel. By the climax of the third film, the same young woman who had previously been kidnapped and held prisoner by Captain Barbossa's crew has become The Pirate King, thanks in no small part to Jack's gaming the system of pirate politics.

In the Spider-Man Trilogy , Mary Jane gets kidnapped by the villain in the climax of all three movies. She's also in distress twice before the climax of the first. They tried to play it less straight in Spider-Man 2. After Spidey gets knocked down in the climax, M. Kirsten Dunst actually only signed on for Spider-Man 3 when they promised not to make her a Damsel in Distress. When plans changed, Sam Raimi tried to make it up to her by giving her more to do in the finale. She ends up saving Spidey by chucking a cinder block at Venom, and uses some web to swing out of the way of a falling truck.

Done remarkably effectively in Superman: The Movie - the famous helicopter rescue, but all of the climaxes in the movie involve this trope. Also used in the sequels. Played fairly straight in 'Sync' episode 6, where computer prodigy Yoshi appears to have no sense of fighting or quick reasoning skill whatsoever. Ruthlessly exploited by our ' Genre Savvy ' main character when he gets her to panic in his favor by suddenly yelling, "Oh god, look at all the bad guys coming to get you, get on the motocrcycle, quick, they're right behind us!

Bill returns his wife to normal by using the the power of his bike Sliver. IT Beverly just after knocking her awful father is captured by Pennywise and is taken to the sewer ensuring the rest of the boys to chase to come to her rescue. Some fans were pissed Beverly is seemly relegated to damsel in distress, when in the books and the original TV Miniseries she never is put in that position. But this opinion false as it's revealed to be a subversion in the version, as Pennywise only takes Beverly as bait to lure Bill and the others.

Plus he can't even eat her since she's not afraid of him really Bev is far more physically competent than her book and counterpart since she is the first one to actually damage Pennywise. In The Proposition , this role is occupied by the retarded younger brother. Obviously, there is no Rescue Romance. At the end, however, Charlie still has to rescue the police captain's wife from being raped and killed, although the captain himself - despite being Ray Winstone - is also being threatened, though not with rape. Subverted in Ever After: But, being the capable heroine she is, she has already threatened the bad guy and freed herself.

She's captured by Todt and threatened with torture in her own bar and has to be rescued by Indy. Later in Cairo she's captured by the Germans' Arab allies and carried away in a basket. Then she's captured yet again by Nazi troops while she's aboard the ship. Somewhat averted because she isn't completely helpless, including knocking out one of her Arab pursuers with a frying pan and pulling a knife on Belloq in an attempt to escape. Subverted at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Deconstructing archetypes to create powerful fictional characters.

Elsa became a distressed damsel when she found herself dangling over a crevasse after she tried taking the Holy Grail from its resting place. However, rather than letting Indiana pull her up to safety , she uses his hold to try and reach for the chalice, which had conveniently fallen just below her.

In the final moment, she almost reaches the grail until her hand slips away from Indy's, causing her to suffer a Death by Materialism.

The female lead in Legend , it doesn't help that she's innocent to the point of stupidity either. She got knocked out immediately afterwards. Giselle starts out like this in Enchanted but reverses roles with Robert in the end. However she is something of a subversion because her plea for help was not a plea for a rescue but rather a plea to get the plans to the Death Star to Bail Organa on Alderaan.

She wasn't expecting a rescue at all and the guys didn't plan to do it either. And she wasn't exactly what one would call grateful when she did get the rescue, either. I don't know who you are or where you've come from, but from now on you'll do as I say, okay? Michael Jackson 's "Thriller" video had this twice, in the movie the Michael and his date are watching at the start, then again the date's dream. It's implied that it happens a third time once she wakes up. The story of Hesione and Heracles is very similar to that of Perseus and Andromeda.

However, Deianeira, another woman in Heracles' adventurous life, subverts it by taking matters in her hands shortly after the rescue. Eurydice is in a classic Damsel in Distress situation. Unfortunately, Orpheus does not come up to expectations. Subverted with Helen of Troy, who is anything but innocent in what happens to her.

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Someone who will be her knight-in-shining-armor. The Maiden is also motivated by her love for new experiences. She believes in living in the moment and experiencing life in all its wondrous ways. And in this pursuit she goes many places, learns many things, and meets many people albeit while minding the caution of her caregivers. And finally, the Maiden is motivated by freedom. She loves expressing herself! Whether through art, dance, music, or speech, she just wants to leave a mark on this world. And she is motivated by freedom. She fears that one day she will have to stand up and take responsibility for her own life.

That she will be burdened by the very things she has always evaded.

Damsel in Distress - TV Tropes

After all, no one ever taught her to see the world for what it truly is. While the Shadow of this archetype is not often seen, it does emerge when the Maiden is not taken care of as a child. The Troubled Teen emerges when she feels abandoned by her family and those she believes are supposed to take care of her. So she vows to make them pay for failing their duty! She is the girl who joins cults and gangs. The one who dates gangsters and dangerous men domineering types who are kind to her one day and then abusive the next. And the kid who breaks every rule in the book.

She does this and more as a ploy to gain attention. Her every rebellion simply a disguised cry for help. And if all this fails to elicit the response she wants, she then goes ahead and kills herself or at least attempts suicide to reap some regrets after her death. The Troubled Teen loves pity. And desperately wants someone to take her under their wings. But paradoxically enough, she hates it too. Now that you know about the Maiden, it is time to put your knowledge to test and create a character based upon her. To do so, use the following infographic: The Maiden is one of the 16 archetypes you can base your fictional characters on.

And while we have already covered many, there are still many left to go. You will also help more people find it that way. Valeria Black is an author and paranormal fiction enthusiast. She loves psychology and specializes in observing characters, both in real-life and in fiction. The Writing Cooperative is sponsored by. Grammarly makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free. Take your writing to a new level. Try it for free! Sign in Get started. How to Create Authentic and Powerful Fictional Characters The secret to crafting ink and paper people that become legends.


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