Shawn C. Jarvis


“Monkey Tails” presents a side-by-side analysis of two fairy tales with metamorphosed monkey princesses, Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy’s “Babiole” (1698) and Friederike Helene Unger’s “Prinzessin Gräcula” (1804). Each tale explores its heroine’s path to disenchantment and humanity through the lens of the animal–human divide as articulated by the philosophers René Descartes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Descartes’s parameters—intelligence, language, reason, feeling, and a soul—propel “Babiole”; “Prinzessin Gräcula” unfolds with Rousseau’s idea of “perfectibility” and its components of self-consciousness, rationality, and morality. Ultimately d’Aulnoy and Unger use these philosophies to comment on the nature of woman and her progression to equality.