A prince who is forced into a bear's shape as in East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a prisoner, but a princess who takes on a bear's shape voluntarily to flee a situation as in The She-Bear escapes with her new shape. Le Guin depicts an animal form as slowly transforming the wizard's mind, so that the dolphin, bear or other creature forgets it was human, making it impossible to change back. This makes an example for a voluntary shapeshifting becoming an imprisoning metamorphosis.
Some are rare, such as Italo Calvino 's " The Canary Prince " is a Rapunzel variant in which shapeshifting is used to gain access to the tower. In many cases, imposed forms are punitive in nature. This may be a just punishment, the nature of the transformation matching the crime for which it occurs; in other cases, the form is unjustly imposed by an angry and powerful person.
In fairy tales, such transformations are usually temporary, but they commonly appear as the resolution of myths as in many of the Metamorphoses or produce origin myths. In many fairy tales and ballads , as in Child Ballad 44, The Twa Magicians or Farmer Weathersky , a magical chase occurs where the pursued endlessly takes on forms in an effort to shake off the pursuer, and the pursuer answers with other shapeshifting, as, a dove is answered with a hawk, and a hare with a greyhound.
The pursued may finally succeed in escape or the pursuer in capturing. The Grimm Brothers fairy tale Foundling-Bird contains this as the bulk of the plot. The magic happens due to a potion given to her by an old witch. The girl, once gone, can regain her human aspect. In other variants, the pursued may transform various objects into obstacles, as in the fairy tale " The Master Maid ", where the Master Maid transforms a wooden comb into a forest, a lump of salt into a mountain, and a flask of water into a sea.
In these tales, the pursued normally escapes after overcoming three obstacles. In a similar effect, a captive may shapeshift in order to break a hold on him. Proteus and Nereus 's shapeshifting was to prevent heroes such as Menelaus and Heracles from forcing information from them. McKillip references it in her Riddle-Master trilogy: One motif is a shape change in order to obtain abilities in the new form.
Berserkers were held to change into wolves and bears in order to fight more effectively. In many cultures, evil magicians could transform into animal shapes and thus skulk about. In many fairy tales, the hero's talking animal helper proves to be a shapeshifted human being, able to help him in its animal form. In one variation, featured in The Three Enchanted Princes and The Death of Koschei the Deathless , the hero's three sisters have been married to animals.
These prove to be shapeshifted men, who aid their brother-in-law in a variant of tale types. In an early Mayan text, the Shapeshifter, or Mestaclocan, has the ability to change his appearance and to manipulate the minds of animals. In one tale, the Mestaclocan finds a dying eagle. Changing into the form of an eagle, he convinces the dying bird that it is, in fact, not dying.
Shape-shifter | Definition of Shape-shifter by Merriam-Webster
As the story goes they both soar into the heavens, and lived together for eternity. Beauty and the Beast has been interpreted as a young woman's coming-of-age, in which she changes from being repulsed by sexual activity and regarding a husband therefore bestial, to a mature woman who can marry. Some shapeshifters are able to change form only if they have some item, usually an article of clothing. In Bisclavret by Marie de France , a werewolf cannot regain human form without his clothing, but in wolf form does no harm to anyone. The most common use of this motif, however, is in tales where a man steals the article and forces the shapeshifter, trapped in human form, to become his bride.
This lasts until she discovers where he has hidden the article, and she can flee. Selkies feature in these tales. Others include swan maidens and the Japanese tennin. The power to externally transform can symbolize an internal savagery; a central theme in many strands of werewolf mythology,  and the inversion of the "liberation" theme , as in Dr Jekyll's transformation into Mr.
Some transformations are performed to remove the victim from his place, so that the transformer can usurp it. Bisclaveret 's wife steals his clothing and traps him in wolf form because she has a lover. A witch, in The Wonderful Birch , changed a mother into a sheep to take her place, and had the mother slaughtered; when her stepdaughter married the king, the witch transformed her into a reindeer so as to put her daughter in the queen's place.
In the Korean Transformation of the Kumiho , a kumiho , a fox with magical powers, transformed itself into an image of the bride, only being detected when her clothing is removed. In Brother and Sister , when two children flee their cruel stepmother, she enchants the streams along the way to transform them. While the brother refrains from the first two, which threaten to turn them into tigers and wolves, he is too thirsty at the third, which turns him into a deer.
The Six Swans are transformed into swans by their stepmother ,  as are the Children of Lir in Irish mythology. Many fairy-tale characters have expressed ill-advised wishes to have any child at all, even one that has another form, and had such children born to them. Hans My Hedgehog was born when his father wished for a child, even a hedgehog. Even stranger forms are possible: Giambattista Basile included in his Pentamerone the tale of a girl born as a sprig of myrtle, and Italo Calvino , in his Italian Folktales , a girl born as an apple.
Sometimes, the parent who wishes for a child is told how to gain one, but does not obey the directions perfectly, resulting in the transformed birth. In Prince Lindworm , the woman eats two onions, but does not peel one, resulting in her first child being a lindworm. In Tatterhood , a woman magically produces two flowers, but disobeys the directions to eat only the beautiful one, resulting her having a beautiful and sweet daughter, but only after a disgusting and hideous one.
Less commonly, ill-advised wishes can transform a person after birth. The Seven Ravens are transformed when their father thinks his sons are playing instead of fetching water to christen their newborn and sickly sister, and curses them. Such wished-for children may become monstrous brides or bridegrooms. These tales have often been interpreted as symbolically representing arranged marriages; the bride's revulsion to marrying a stranger being symbolized by his bestial form.
The heroine must fall in love with the transformed groom.
List of shapeshifters
The hero or heroine must marry, as promised, and the monstrous form is removed by the wedding. Sir Gawain thus transformed the Loathly lady ; although he was told that this was half-way, she could at his choice be beautiful by day and hideous by night, or vice versa, he told her that he would choose what she preferred, which broke the spell entirely. Puddocky is transformed when her prince, after she had helped him with two other tasks, tells him that his father has sent him for a bride. A similar effect is found in Child ballad 34, Kemp Owyne , where the hero can transform a dragon back into a maiden by kissing her three times.
Sometimes the bridegroom removes his animal skin for the wedding night, whereupon it can be burned. At an extreme, in Prince Lindworm , the bride who avoids being eaten by the lindworm bridegroom arrives at her wedding wearing every gown she owns, and she tells the bridegroom she will remove one of hers if he removes one of his; only when her last gown comes off has he removed his last skin, and become a white shape that she can form into a man.
In some tales, the hero or heroine must obey a prohibition; the bride must spend a period of time not seeing the transformed groom in human shape as in East of the Sun and West of the Moon , or the bridegroom must not burn the animals' skins. In these tales, the prohibition is broken, invariably, resulting in a separation and a search by one spouse for the other. Ghosts sometimes appear in animal form. In The Famous Flower of Serving-Men , the heroine's murdered husband appears to the king as a white dove, lamenting her fate over his own grave.
There are African folk tales of murder victims avenging themselves in the form of crocodiles that can shapeshift into human form. In some fairy tales, the character can reveal himself in every new form, and so a usurper repeatedly kills the victim in every new form, as in Beauty and Pock Face , A String of Pearls Twined with Golden Flowers , and The Boys with the Golden Stars.
This eventually leads to a form in which the character or characters can reveal the truth to someone able to stop the villain. Similarly, the transformation back may be acts that would be fatal. In The Wounded Lion , the prescription for turning the lion back into a prince was to kill him, chop him to pieces, burn the pieces, and throw the ash into water.
Less drastic but no less apparently fatal, the fox in The Golden Bird , the foals in The Seven Foals , and the cats in Lord Peter and The White Cat tell the heroes of those stories to cut off their heads; this restores them to human shape. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the album, see Shapeshifting Young Galaxy album.
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