Bibliographic Information: The Maiden in the Castle of Rosy Clouds was written by Harald Ostenson and is found in a collection:
Great Swedish Fairy Tales. Illus by John Bauer. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1974.
Ethnic Origin: Sweden
Running Time: 8-11 minutes, depending on details included
Power Center(s): The main power center (for me) is when the young man finds the castle of rosy clouds and gets to live happily ever after with the maiden. The young man worked so hard for so long, and overcame many seemingly insurmountable obstacles to realize his dream of winning the maiden.
Characters: The young man (the hero), the maiden in the castle of rosy clouds, the old lady who tells the hero the things he needs to find the maiden, the snake, the old lady running from the snake, Father Lars, the townspeople, the friend who betrays the hero
Scenes: Scene 1—The young, hard-working man dreams of the maiden in the castle of rosy clouds, and decides to try and win her.
Scene 2—The young man encounters an old lady who tells him of the three things he must have to find the maiden.
Scene 3—The young man rescues an old lady from a giant snake, and his sheath knife is turned into the “sword of Gull”.
Scene 4—The young man rescues an old man from a house on fire, and receives the “mantle like that of a squire”.
Scene 5—The young man’s friend steals the mantle and sword, but the mantle starts flying and drops the friend across a great chasm. The young man tries to jump the chasm to save his friend, and makes it across because a “stallion grey” carries him safely across. He takes his friend to safety and continues on his way.
Scene 6—The hero reaches the castle of rosy clouds and a giant appears and promptly disappears. The hero and maiden are united, and the hero is made young again.
Synopsis: A young man who has just been working very hard, lays down to rest. He dreams of a beautiful maiden and she invites him to find her and win her. Everywhere he goes after the dream, he asks people where she might be, and people laugh at him. Eventually, he finds an old lady who tells him a rhyme, in which are incorporated the three things he needs to find the maiden (a stallion, a sword, and a mantle). The young man rescues three people to earn these things, and eventually, after he is old, he finds the castle of rosy clouds, where the maiden lives. As he ascends the clouds on his stallion, a giant threatens him. He charges the giant, and it disappears. The maiden and the hero (who was made young again) walk into the castle together.
Rhymes/Special Phrases/Flavor: The rhyme the old lady tells the young man, which tells how to find the maiden :
“Do you want to find the maiden in the castle of clouds?
If you want to win the maiden in the castle of clouds,
First you need a stallion grey
Who midst the clouds can find his way.
You need a red mantle, like that of a squire
To keep you safe from embers and fire.
And you need the sword that is known as Gull
To split the iron serpent’s skull.”
Audience: One of the reasons I think this story would appeal to elementary age kids is because of the excitement of the plot. Also, according to Erikson, this age group is starting to feel a sense of competency and pride in achievements, and these kids can feel that for the hero as he overcomes the various obstacles, and achieves his goal. In Piaget’s developmental stages, he notes that children 7-ll years old are able to “cope with multiple perspectives” and think they are smarter than adults. In the story, children have many possible perspectives with which to view the story: most obviously, the hero, but they may also view the story from the old lady’s point of view, or from the false friend’s point of view. Also, there is a giant at the end of the story, which could represent adults for children (the hero overcomes the giant).
According to Huck, children ages 8 and 9 are developing a sense of empathy for others, and this is crucial in order to understand the hero, and his motivations for helping others. Huck also says that this age group enjoys imaginary adventure, which is what this story is.
I like the story for elementary age children because it teaches hard work and persistence. The young man has to live his whole life before he achieves his dream, and he never looses sight of it. I also like the fact that he risks his life for total strangers, which is not something I would want children to do, but the basic lesson of helping others is good. I also like how the hero forgives his friend, and risks his life to save someone who had betrayed him. This story has the potential to teach integrity and strength in a very entertaining way.