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The Princess and the Pea

THERE was once a Prince who wished to marry a Princess; but then she must be a real Princess. He travelled all over the world in hopes of finding such a lady; but there was always something wrong. Princesses he found in plenty; but whether they were real Princesses it was impossible for him to decide, for now one thing, now another, seemed to him not quite right about the ladies. At last he returned to his palace quite cast down, because he wished so much to have a real Princess for his wife.

One evening a fearful tempest arose, it thundered and lightened, and the rain poured down from the sky in torrents: besides, it was as dark as pitch. All at once there was heard a violent knocking at the door, and the old King, the Prince's father, went out himself to open it.

It was a Princess who was standing outside the door. What with the rain and the wind, she was in a sad condition; the water trickled down from her hair, and her clothes clung to her body. She said she was a real Princess.

"Ah! we shall soon see that!" thought the old Queen-mother; however, she said not a word of what she was going to do; but went quietly into the bedroom, took all the bed-clothes off the bed, and put three little peas on the bedstead. She then laid twenty mattresses one upon another over the three peas, and put twenty feather beds over the mattresses.

Upon this bed the Princess was to pass the night.

The next morning she was asked how she had slept. "Oh, very badly indeed!" she replied. "I have scarcely closed my eyes the whole night through. I do not know what was in my bed, but I had something hard under me, and am all over black and blue. It has hurt me so much!"

Now it was plain that the lady must be a real Princess, since she had been able to feel the three little peas through the twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. None but a real Princess could have had such a delicate sense of feeling.

The Prince accordingly made her his wife; being now convinced that he had found a real Princess. The three peas were however put into the cabinet of curiosities, where they are still to be seen, provided they are not lost.

Wasn't this a lady of real delicacy?

by Hans Christian Andersen



Princess & The Pea Fractured Fairy Tales by A. J. Jacobs
It seems that once upon a time there was a kingdom without a princess, and this concerned the king and his ministers greatly. “We are facing a severe heiress deficit,” the prime miniter told the king, tapping a chart. “We must immediately increase the number of young female royal individuals in the palace vicinity.”

“You mean,” sighed the king, “we’ve got to find a princess?”

“That’s what I said.”

This wasn’t an impossible task. The king once did have a princess, but she had been lost since childhood. The king and his ministers simply had to figure hout how to track her down. But just as they got started thinking, they were interrupted by the court jester, Million Laughs Charlie. “Thank you, thank you. Good to here folks!” said Charlie, shaking his rattle. “You know, the other day, I walking into this club, and there was this Irishman and this…”

“Please,” said the king, “we’re doing some business here.” Then, to his ministers, he said, “How about if we offer a million gold crickles to the princess when she shows up?”

“A million gold crickles!” interrupted Charlie again. “I’d love to help on this project. Do you remember what she looks like?”

“No,” said the king.

“Good, I mean, that’s too bad,” said Charlie, rubbing his hands.

“She was just a baby when she left,” said the king, “but I’ll know her by the way she passes this test I have in mind.”

But Million Laughs Charlie wasn’t listening anymore. He wasn’t even there. Charlie had run home, called up his date for the night… a lovely maiden who lived next door…cancelled on her, and got straight to work on his scheme.

He recruited his friend Clyde, a rather big man with a rather small brain, to help. And before Clyde knows what had happened, he had on a blond wig, a lot of lipstick and was on the way to the palace to meet the king.

“I don’t want to be no princess,” whined Clyde. “These high heels are killin’ me.”

“Shush,” shushed Charlie, as they arrived at the palace front door. “Hey King, I’d like to introduce you to your princess.”

“Hmmm,” said the king, “she got more of a five o’clock shadow than I remember my princess having, but if she passes the test, then I’ll know she’s the one.”

With that, the king led the make-believe princess to a tall pile of mattresses. Under the bottom mattress, he explained, there was a small pea. If she was a real princess, she would be so refined, so sensitive that even a tiny lump like that wouldn’t let her sleep.

The make-believe princess climbed to the top of the pile and lay down as Charlie, the king and his ministers waited at the bottom. In the morning, the king and his court climbed to the top and, sure enough, the make-believe princess was snoring away blissfully.

“Ah-ha!” said the prime misister. “This individual lacks the qualities necessary to be a member of the royal family.”

“He means,” sighed the king, “this ain’t no princess.”

Charlie and Clyde found themselves escorted out of the palace, helped along by a swift kick or two on the bottom from the palace guards.

“Now you’ve done it, you hussy!” shouted Million Laughs Charlie.

But Clyde didn’t get off that easily. Over the next few days, Charlie dressed his friend up in a red wig, a brown wig, and a browner wig and sent him off to the palace to pretend to be another girl. Hoping to keep him up, he would feed Clyde coffee and tell him scary tales about monsters and politicians. But each time, Clyde slept soundly through the night. And in the morning, he would be forced to leave the palace, rubbing his rear.

After several days of this, the two dejected men went back to Charlie’s house to regroup. There, Charlie’s neighbor was out in the yard, washing her carriage.

“Hey honey,” Charlie said to her. “My business deal fell through. Got some time on my hands. What say we go out and have a bite to eat?”

“Sorry Charlie,” said the maiden. “I’m exhausted. I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night. I think there was a pea under my mattress.”

“Did you try maybe reading anything?” asked Charlie. “Wait a sec, didn’t sleep a wink?”

Yes, Charlie had figured it out. This really was a princess. The real thing. The girl that would get the million gold crickles and all the titles of her realm. Before you could say, “greedy no good,” Charlie had taken the girl to meet the king.

“Oh Darling,” said the king giving his daughter a hug. “here’s a million gold crickles, minus thirty percent for taxes, plus your choice of any man in the kingdom.”

“Wow!” said the princess. “Any man in the kingdom?” She smiled, looking over at her escort and his friend Clyde. “Oh Clyde, will you be mine?”

“For keeps!” said Clyde.

That’s the story. The king had his daughter, the princess had her gold and Clyde had the princess and they all lived happily ever after. Ooops, almost all lived happily ever after. Poor Million Laughs Charlie spent the rest of his days unsuccessfully trying to sell fairy tales of the king and his court.

Review for Unit One Test on Fractured Fairy Tales: After Reading the two Stories, Complete the Review:


  1. What is an Inference:__________________________________________

Example question:
The term that BEST describes the personality of both the King and the Queen in each story is

  1. Haughty

  2. Silly

  3. Angry

  4. Unsure




  1. Read the following quotation from the original “Princess and the Pea” text:

“She was in a sad condition; the water trickled down from her hair, and her clothes clung to her body. She said she was a real Princess.”
Based on the Queen’s response to her we can infer:

  1. The girl is beautiful

  2. The girl looks like a princess

  3. The girl does not look like a real princess

  4. The girl looks ugly




  1. Which of the following pieces of textual evidence BEST support that Charlie from the fractured fairy tale is not to be trusted?

A) “Good, I mean, that’s too bad,” said Charlie, rubbing his hands.

B) “Hey King, I’d like to introduce you to your princess.”

C) “I’d love to help on this project.”

D) “What say we go out and have a bite to eat?”


  1. Which of the following pieces of textual evidence DOES NOT SUPPORT that the princess was real in both stories?

A) “I have scarcely closed my eyes the whole night through.”

B) “I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.”

C) “These high heels are killin’ me.”

D)” It has hurt me so much!"


  1. Based on the following quote, what can you infer?

“The next morning she was asked how she had slept.”Oh, very badly indeed!" she replied. "I have scarcely closed my eyes the whole night through. I do not know what was in my bed, but I had something hard under me, and am all over black and blue. It has hurt me so much!"
I. The princess did not know the peas were under the mattress

II. The Queen wanted to hurt the princess

III. The Queen was angry that the princess was there

IV. The Princess did not sleep well because she tossed and turned all night.


A) I Only

B) II


C) I and III

D) I and IV





  1. In the Fractured story, which of the following statements is not explicitly stated?

A) Clyde did not want to be a princess and help Charlie

B) Charlie is sneaky and he’s after the money from the king

C) The King is looking for a long lost princess

D) The princess wants to marry Clyde


  1. What is the pattern of events in a story?____________________________________

Example question:
Which of the following BEST describes the pattern of events from the original version of “The Princess and the Pea” text:

A) The Prince goes hunting for a girl, he finds one but his mother doesn’t approve. The queen puts a pea under her mattress and after she can not sleep through the night, she lets her marry her son.

B) The Prince wanted a real princess, a girl shows up at his door, the queen doesn’t think she’s a real princess; she passes the pea under the mattress test and marries the prince and live happily ever after.

C) The Prince is sad because he is lonely, a strange girl shows up at his castle and the queen loves her. She passes the queens pea test and they get married.

D) The Prince goes looking for a princess and can’t find one. A princess find him, he introduces her to the queen who gives her a pea test. The girl fails the test, but they get married anyway and still live happily ever after.




  1. What is rendered new?___________________________________________

Example question:
Which of the following textual evidence would BEST demonstrate that the pattern of events in the fractured story has been “rendered new”?

A) It seems that once upon a time there was a kingdom without a princess

B) “He means,” sighed the king, “this ain’t no princess.”

C) The king once did have a princess, but she had been lost since childhood.

D) “I think there was a pea under my mattress.”


  1. What is an Archetype?___________________________________________

Example Question:
Which of the following archetypal characters BEST describes the princess in both stories?

A) Heroine

B) Innocent

C) Victim

D) Mother Figure
10. What is theme?_________________________________________________

Example question:


What would LEAST fit the theme for “The Princess and the Pea?”

A) Good Planning can lead to success

B) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

C) True nobility in within


D) Don’t judge a book by it’s cover


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