Character Profiles: The Spoiled Princess

Gleamdren sulked. She was good at sulking, whether she knew it or not. Her face fell naturally into all the right grooves, letting anyone with eyes know exactly what she thought, which was that the world was not behaving as it ought.
What was this fascination with mortal women? First, Rudiobus falling for the glamourized dragon (which, granted, only looked mortal) and now this! The Eanrin she knew wouldn’t be caught dead speaking to a mortal girl. He certainly wouldn’t drag one along on a noble quest! Was he going to start writing poetry in her honor too? Insufferable man.
And now even the Dragonwitch was enthralled by the little insect. Her dragon. Her captor.
– Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Starflower

Lady Gleamdren Gormlaith was cousin to the queen, the prettiest woman at court, and a renowned collector of suitors. A hundred suitors, all eager to court her, all melting like butter before her every word and gesture.

She was a Spoiled Princess. The Spoiled Princesses of fiction come in a variety of ways. Many of them are literal princesses. Others, like Gleamdren, are of high birth, but not quite that high. Some have reached their status (social and spoiled) through a father’s wealth. This last group crosses with the archetype of Little Rich Girl, and often Heiress, too.

Authors match this diversity of Spoiled Princesses with a diversity of uses for them. In the old fairy tales, they were often included as counterpoints to the Good Princess. A classic example of this is found in certain versions of Beauty and the Beast, where Beauty has two sisters who are rendered endlessly complaining by the loss of their father’s fortune. These Princesses are more moral points than anything else.

In Dragon and Slave, Her Thumbleness is one small step up the ladder – more unlikable than Beauty’s sisters, but also more of a character. A minor character, but at least she has the dignity of providing a vital plot point.

Gleamdren is a secondary character, entertaining and reasonably important to the story, but a clear step behind the main cast. She does not, as they say, experience personal growth. Yet sometimes the Spoiled Princess does experience growth; sometimes she is the heroine.

Demonstrating this – and also why the Little Rich Girl can so easily be the Spoiled Princess – is Charlotte, the English heiress of Masquerade. She gets to take center stage, and consequently endures the painful reckoning so necessary when the heroine is, however slightly or charmingly, a brat. Princess Una, the protagonist of Heartless, is charted a similar heroine’s journey.

I am also going to include, as an example of the Spoiled Princess, the princess who complained about the pea beneath her mattress, because that story has always annoyed me.

The archetype of Spoiled Princess, simple though it seems, may be shrunk or expanded to fill any role from a moral exclamation point to a heroine. You do not expect Spoiled Princesses to be much good, but they are – whether for humor, or for plot twists, or even for a story of redemption.

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