The damsel-in-distress, persecuted maiden, or princess in jeopardy is a classic theme in world literature, art, film and video games, most notably in the most action-packed. It implies a young woman in trouble (with the implication that the woman needs to be rescued, as by a prince in a fairy tale).
“She makes a rather sweet damsel in distress” – said, anonymous idiot
One such Damsel came whimpering at their doorsteps. At first glance, she’d seem like any other shaken up maiden. Having had her heartbroken at the hands of a sturdy handsome lad. She came to their doorstep and cried hail mary. She recited bitter tales of her estranged lover having abandoned their relationship. Closer to the end of her story, everyone in the household was close to tearing up. For you know, they were no stranger to heartbreak!
“But of course, who would help a woman if another woman didn’t?”, one of the residents cried.
“We must provide Damsel immediate help and support. Lend her a warm bed, stew her some delicious food. Let her feel cold and alone no more!”
And the Damsel made her way into their hearts and home.
Slowly but surely Damsel wove herself into their lives. Sharing stories and offering advice, where no one was looking for it.
They would dance with her, play with her, even cook for her when they cooked for each other so that she didn’t feel left out. They’d listen to her woes like:
“The love of my life left me!” She cried once.
“For why??” The others urged her on- ready to jump to her defense.
“Because he thought me unfaithful!!” she bellowed.
“And were you?”, one of the residents asked quietly.
“Psssshtt!!”, the others cried.
“Of course not!” she bellowed. “I will die alone and unloved. He was a Duke, you see?! There shan’t be a way for me to find a man of such stature! His mother was a vicious venomous woman who wanted to tear our romance apart!”
The residents nodded. But something about her manner didn’t convince the rest of her innocence. The possibility of Damsel being less than truthful made the residents uncomfortable. They went to their room and dimmed their lamps.
“Do you think she could have been truly unfaithful?”, one of the girls whispered.
“You never know” another one quietly says.
“Surely, she may not have meant for it to happen” the first hoped.
“You know how flaky some women can be”, another one chimed in wisely.
They decided to shrug it off and go to bed.
After all, they had given Damsel their word- to be there for her when she needed it.
When probed about her ex-lover another time, she cried:
“His mother! She was such a vicious jealous old woman. She never wanted us to be together! She said I used to control him too much. Me?! Controlling?! Nonsense!” she says, tossing her hair with an air of self-righteousness. “He was the one who was spoilt! Attending all those fancy cocktail parties his mother organized. Dancing with other women late into the night.” She frowned.
Perplexed and confused, the girls grimaced. They had been stung before. And true friendships had been especially uncommon for them. Should they be standing behind Damsel? What if she was the reason for the break-up?!
As the days went by, the charm of the Duke wore off. There were many suitors pursuing Damsel’s hand in marriage. Promises of bringing her the sun and moon. Carriages filled with gifts and goodies flooded the residents of her humble accommodation. The courting had begun!
The others were happy but wary. Which lad would the Damsel snatch, now that the Duke was definitely out of the way? She of course had made her standards very clear. Royalty only. Anyone who didn’t come from a noble descent stood no chance to win Damsel’s heart. Or at least that’s what she told herself.
One such lad came forward. He was no royalty, but he was a Knight. Higher in ranks of people who served the sovereign – a mounted soldier in armor. He shared that his lordship bestowed the title on him in recognition of exemplary merit and service. He was stricken by Damsel’s beauty and wanted to court her affection in any way. Earnest as he was, he expressed his feelings and recited the poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning that says-
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Claiming to have fallen in love at first sight, the Knight showers her with rose petals. He gets down on one knee and asks her to be his bride. Of course, all cheer and clap ahead- encouraging Damsel to pursue this potential handsome lad. But bursting in comes her old lover, Duke, who crashed at this event, surprising himself as much as he surprised her. You see, he had heard of this absurd ceremony, where gentlemen came forward to view a maiden who could only be described as his old flame. He yelped and wept at the thought of her being engaged. Proclaimed love and convinced her that he would fight his mother to be with her till the end. Her heart burst with passion at the sight of him. But she was also overwhelmed. This was the man who cast her aside for his mother. Should she really give up this safe and reliable Knight to be with him?
Now I’m not going to tell you how this story ends folks. You’ve got to decide for yourself. At some point in our lives, we’ve all been there. Life presents us with all kinds of crossroads. Now that you know all about the Damsel, Knight, and Duke, who do YOU think she should marry? And Why?
Write to me with your answers in the comments!