Table of Contents
- The King: The king of Russia
- The Queen: The queen of Russia
- Princess Tanya: Princess of Russia who had never laughed before.
- Ivan: A young poor but kind boy
- A fish: He wants to leave the lake as it was getting dirty.
- A mouse: He wants to leave the field because the food was scarce.
- A grasshopper: He wants to leave the forest because it was getting warmer.
“The Princess Who Never Smiled” is a Russian folk fairy tale collected by Alexander Afanasyev in Narodnye russkie skazki, as tale number 297. This lesson is about a young princess Tanya who had trouble smiling, her father tried every means to make her laugh but couldn’t succeed. He thus announces in his kingdom that whoever can make his daughter smile will get to marry her. A poor boy named Ivan goes to try his luck and eventually succeeds.
The Magician nor the clown could make the princess laugh
There lived a princess named Tanya in Russia who was very beautiful but never smiled or laughed. The King and the Queen loved their daughter and were worried about her. The king had an idea and called a magician to amuse their daughter but it was of no use as the magician couldn’t make her smile. The king then called a clown but that wasn’t successful either.
The king ultimately made an announcement in the country that anyone who can make his daughter laugh would get to marry her. People from all over Russia came to make her laugh but no one could do it.
Ivan steps up to try his luck to make the princess laugh
A poor boy named Ivan heard the news and wanted to take a chance as he felt he would succeed. He worked for a farmer who gave him three gold coins for his journey. On his way, he found a lake and a fish called out his name. The fish wanted to find a new house as the water in the lake was getting dirty but he was poor so Ivan gave one gold coin to the fish out of generosity.
Ivan traveled further and saw a big field where a mouse called him for help as he was poor and has been living in the field his whole life but the food was getting scarce and he didn’t want to live there anymore. Ivan thus gave one gold coin to the mouse and moved forward.
Ivan then came across a forest where the grass-hopper called him. The grasshopper wanted to leave the forest and find a new home as it was getting very hot and he was poor. Even though Ivan had only one gold coin left he gave it to the grasshopper and moved forward in his journey.
Kindness never goes unrewarded
On the way, Ivan got hungry and was tired but had no money to buy food. However, he managed to reach the palace where he saw the princess standing by her window. He became nervous as she was looking at him and fell into a hole. Ivan shouted for help and suddenly the mouse, fish, and the grasshopper appeared to help him and tried to pull the boy from the hole. The princess was watching everything from her window.
The sight was so funny that the princess started laughing as she had never seen anything funnier than that. Seeing the princess laugh, everyone started laughing, even Ivan laughed at the situation. The King was happy and as promised Ivan married the princess and became a prince. From that day onwards, the palace became a happy place full of laughter and smiles.
The main idea is usually that the man she falls for is not only funny but kind. It’s one of the few fairy tales where the princess ends up with a man who compliments her and makes up for something she was missing in her life. Also, her father seems to want her to be happy, not just use her for political gain.