The Princess and the Pea


BR: A young price is becoming of marrying age and his mother is eagerly trying to find a suitable princess for him to wed. She doesn’t think that anyone in the kingdom is a “true” princess, and tells him that he must wait for the right person to come along. One night, there is a terrible storm and a traveling girl seeks shelter in the castle. The prince immediately takes interest in her, but his mother judges her wet, ragged clothes and tells him that she is certainly not worthy. To prove it, the mother makes a bed of 10 mattresses and puts a single pea under the bottom mattress. She claims that only a real princess would be able to feel the pea through all of the mattresses. Much to her surprise, the princess tells her that the bed was too uncomfortable and she could hardly sleep. The girl was a true princess after all, and she and the prince lived happily ever after. The moral of the story is to never judge a book by its cover.


BR: I first heard this story from my parents as a bedtime story. My sisters and I all listened together and learned that it is important to not judge people on their appearance. I think this message is important for people to know and this story is a good way to teach it to children.


When asked about myths and tales they know, shockingly few people think of bedtime stories they were told as children. This story in particular is a fairy tale from Hans Christian Anderson written in the 1800s. Anderson was a Danish storyteller, yet BR has no Danish roots, indicating the story has become more commonplace. Similarly to Aesop’s Fables, Anderson’s works often feature a concise moral. They differ however, in that all of the characters are human and behave as humans would.