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The Power of Images in “Sleeping Beauty” Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Nov 20th, 2020


Sleeping Beauty is a well-known fairy tale that is presented in different versions around the whole world. Like many other classic stories, Sleeping Beauty contains several important lessons that different readers can use in their lives. Its editions and representations are hard to count. In this paper, special attention will be paid to the original story written by Charles Perrault in the 17th century and published by eKitap Pojesi in 2016. The peculiar feature of fairy tales is the possibility to read texts that are supported by effective visuals. In this book, the illustrators choose black-and-white images. Still, these boundaries do not limit the reader’s imagination. According to Blair et al., images may not have “inherent rhetorical meanings” so that people are free to shape pictures and ideas in the most convenient ways (135). The connection between Sleeping Beauty and “Gendered Viewpoints” maybe not as evident as it should be, but this relationship turns out to be a helpful tool for understanding human behaviors, connecting the reader and the writer, and developing imagination from different perspectives.

The Power of Images in Sleeping Beauty

Reading fairy tales without pictures is usually not interesting. Even adults find it necessary to address some images and gain a better understanding of a situation, give clear examples to their children, or compare their imagination with the intentions of the author. Sleeping Beauty is a story about the relationships between different people with their dreams, interests, demands, abilities, and attitudes. Through the very first lines, it becomes clear that the author has an idea to be developed in this fairy tale with special respect. A King and a Queen were “so sorry that they had no children, so sorry that it cannot be expressed” (Perrault 3). Not many editors and illustrators can introduce the image of these desperately waiting parents proving the phrase of the author that no expressions can be given in this situation. Blair et al. explain that literacy should not depend on access to visual information, but be based on rhetorical concepts with the help of which a person can use their cultural background and traditions (131). Sleeping Beauty is a good story for developing rhetorical concepts and evaluating human behaviors without multiple pictures, including a protective king, a sensitive and trustful princess, an evil fairy, and a charming prince.

In addition to the possibility to improve an understanding of the story, images help to define the level of relationship between a reader and an author. It is not enough to read sentences and imagine what happens there. Images and viewpoints of the book can be interpreted through the criteria offered by Blair et al. and used as a barometer of influence the author may have on the reader. Black-and-white pictures in the book can be defined as useful guides for the reader to create a colorful picture at the end of the story. There is no need to give detailed images of the whole story. Sometimes, it is enough for the author to support the reader in the beginning and motivate them for taking several independent steps.

In Sleeping Beauty, Perrault focuses on the situation that occurs after the tragedy and the necessity for fairies to protect the whole community against stress, sorrow, and sadness. In the images, the place where the main characters live is divided into black and white with black tones prevailing over the white ones. Such an arrangement of the details shows that the author cannot define a true scope of human grief and suggest the reader using their imagination to understand how it is possible to cope with the situation and what outcome may be expected. Sleeping Beauty is chosen because of two important reasons. First, in comparison to many other classic stories, this story has a root and development, but no strict rules to be followed. The reader can develop personal imagination and think about what was happening to the characters when they were sleeping, if they had dreams, or if they felt something. The second reason for choosing this story is its close relation to images and the power of rhetorical interpretations which are promoted by Blair et al. Some questions, as well as answers, remain rhetorical in the story, and the reader should understand the power of this concept in fairy tales, as well as in other literary works.

However, this reading of the story and its evaluation turns out to be two different tasks because of the necessity to focus on particular aspects of the book, its images, and neglect a list of other strong issues, like the role of gender, the fight between good and evil, or the relationships between parents and children. These concerns cannot be neglected and should be underlined because they influence the creation of an image of a Sleeping Beauty and its impact on modern children, parents, and villains who want to ruin plans and interfere with human lives. Visual and auditory literacy is important for the reader and the general impact of fairy tales. Still, this concept should not deprive a person of the opportunity to focus on other aspects that may be found interesting.


In general, Sleeping Beauty is a story with a strong context and several helpful lessons to be applied to human life. The article by Blair et al. can be used to understand the essence of the book with all its images and words used by the author and illustrator. However, it is necessary to remember that any fairy tale is more than just a collection of letters supported by a picture. It is a strong guide for children to investigate their lives from multiple perspectives.

Works Cited

Blair, Kris, et al. Cross Currents: Cultures, Communities, Technologies. Cengage Learning, 2014.

Perrault, Charles. The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. eKitap Pojesi, 2016.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Power of Images in "Sleeping Beauty"." November 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-power-of-images-in-sleeping-beauty/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Power of Images in "Sleeping Beauty"'. 20 November.

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