Damsel . Princess
Understanding the nature of healthy romance.
Ability to protect, provide and rely on yourself
Waiting for a Knight to provide for you.
Seduction by romantic illusion.
The Damsel in Distress may be the oldest female archetype in all of popular literature and the movies.
She is always beautiful, vulnerable, and in need of rescue, specifically by a Knight and, once rescued, she is taken care of in lavish style.
The castles that Damsels are taken to have prisons, cold stone walls, drawbridges, and moats.
When disappointed, a Damsel must go through a process of empowerment and learn to take care of herself in the world.
The Shadow Aspect
The shadow side of this archetype mistakenly teaches old patriarchal views that women are weak and teaches them to be helpless and in need of protection.
It leads a woman to expect to have someone else who will fight her battles for her while she remains devoted and physically attractive and concealed in the castle/ prison.
The Damsel’s fear of going it alone is holds the Damsel/Knight relationship together. It also often shatters the relationship when the Prince or Knight grows older and expects to have a perennially young, attractive Princess at his beck and call.
The Damsel/Princess must ultimately learn to fight her own battles and evolve into a Queen.
The Princess is more often associated with romance rather than distress.
She awaits a Knight who is worthy of her beauty and rank and will take her not to his castle but to a palace.
Many women still expect to marry a man who will give them a castle and take of them. And some men are raised to expect to do this (see Prince and Knight).
The Princess inevitably grows older even if she remains helpless. Or she becomes more interested in the outside world, develops skills and competencies and is unable to maintain the same old dynamic of dependency.
Palaces are fantastically beautiful and charmed and are associated with ballrooms and elegance. The common (archetypal) expression, “Daddy’s little Princess” implies an adoring father who brings up his daughter surrounded by beauty and abundance. There is no “Daddy’s little Damsel in Distress.”
The Shadow Aspect
The Princess and the Damsel, however, both are taught to be helpless and do share a yearning for a Knight as a partner in life, the implication being that without a Knight, they are powerless in this world.
Either way, most Damsel/Prince relationships ultimately find that they change or fail.
The challenge inherent in these archetypal patterns, therefore, is to do for yourself what you expect the Knight to do for you–provide and protect yourself
Examine your young-girl fantasies and expectations for a mate. Were you waiting for the arrival of your Knight in Shining “Amour,” hoping to be rescued… and disappointed that your expectations weren’t met?
Movies with ‘Damsels’
Watching movies related to one of your core archetypes, especially when going through the process of healing your shadow aspect is a powerful tool to help you understand yourself (your motivations, your passions, your fears – why you behave the way you do).