Choose Your Own Prison: An Interactive Princess Adventure
Barbara Bourland’s quiz will tell you exactly who you’re allowed to be
My third novel, The Force of Such Beauty, follows a retired athlete who marries a prince—a Common Princess, in the parlance of the quiz. Over the almost five years that I spent drafting it, I read dozens of princess stories for research, from sensationalist unauthorized biographies of real-life women like Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles to the classic short tales analyzed in the seminal The Fairytale as Art Form and Portrait of Man by Swiss literary theorist Max Lüthi. When I was asked to share what I’d gleaned about the harm these stories might do to women, the answer was simple—one long series of trick questions. What princess stories ultimately offer is the lie that princesses have choices, when really, they have none. Castles might look like luxury hotels, but in truth, they are impenetrable prisons designed to protect the State above all else. Princesses, bound to lives that prioritize only their reproductive labor, are their most glorious prisoners.