And yet I think perhaps we have lost sight of the truth behind a simple fairytale like Sleeping Beauty. It has become so cliche that we look at it as nothing more than a story for children who have not yet learned How the World Really Is, who still view things in stark black and white. They aren't stories that fit with our perception of the world, and so they aren't considered "real" or "accurate" or "true." At the risk of sounding too allegorical, however, the parallels that can be drawn between these childhood tales and the Greatest Story argue that perhaps these fairytales are more True than even the most intricate Dickens novel - or, rather, True on a higher level.
"Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." (G.K. Chesterton)
The basic plot of the classic fairytale mirrors - in a small and necessarily incomplete way - God's redemptive history. Take, for instance, the tale of Saint George and the Dragon, in which you find all the components: the dragon, the damsel, the knight. The venomous dragon lived in a lake outside a city and was given presents of great worth by the townspeople in order to placate him and keep him from destroying them all; then the people began also to give the dragon their own children for it to devour. In time the king's daughter was chosen to be sacrificed, and she was taken out to the lake and left there for the dragon. At this time, of course, Saint George was riding past the lake and, on seeing the maiden, stopped to see what the matter was. He fought the dragon and eventually killed it, rescuing the maid from being eaten.
This is hardly the first legend involving the slaying of a dragon. The Greeks had the story of Perseus rescuing Andromeda, which has obvious parallels to the legend of Saint George, and there were many similar myths in the Middle Eastern empires. This common thread suggests that it is a story based on fact, though I cannot say whether it flows from the history of a man killing some legendary beast or from a spiritual truth.
Regardless, it does bear a striking resemblance to the history of God's people that can hardly be missed. The dragon, Satan, has held Mankind in captivity since the Fall, while Man blindly and willingly serves him out of the depravity of his own heart. Such has been the state of Man and such it would continue to be but for Christ. It is He who comes to rescue His chosen Bride, and He alone who could do so. It is all there - the dragon, the maiden, the knight. A fairytale paints in muted colors the glory of redemption and of the work of Christ. It is otherworldly, and that is why it is so different from what we experience day to day. It looks to what lies beyond; it looks to the Truth behind it all.
"You're watching how the story finds a way.
And you've seen it all before, but still you love to see the hero save the day.
It's a window in the world, a little glimpse of all the goodness getting through.
And all along the way the days are made of little moments of truth."
(Andrew Peterson - Windows in the World)