This story is much different than the other stories we have read by Emma Donoghue. The Tale of The Kiss is told by a narrator that other thinks she is a witch but we know by no other name. She left her home knowing she was older and could not have children and therefore would not be able to aspire to become a wife and mother. This is something that is drilled into women’s heads at a very young age. She has no desire for a prince or a husband but instead she chooses exile in a cave on a cliff top in hopes of being left alone but “What I found instead was power. I never sought it; it was left out for me to stumble over.” She is wise and powerful because she is perceptive enough to recognize that the fear people feel for her as a witch gives her power over them. She is also self reliant and a tad bit deceptive.
The witch tries to stay silent hoping that this will keep her safe and not draw attention to her. Of course this doesn’t work and she runs into the red-haired girl who must battle against the shape her parents try to force her; each one wanting something different. They do not want her restlessness to get into the way of their desires. The girl overcomes the obstacles put in front of her through her own intelligence, bravery and with the help of the witch.
The witch finds herself in love with the red-haired girl and I think this ruins her sense of self-possession. Prior to meeting the girl she was “complete”. The girl is the one who makes her aware of the lack of love in her life and she realizes she loves the girl and will give the girl her heart to do with it as she pleases. I think the witch throws away her pride and self-containment to follow the red-haired girl. I do not know if the red-haired girl is interested in the witch in any romantic sense and I also wonder if the witch is chasing youth and beauty since she has lost hers.
There are no damsels in distress and no waiting for their prince to come in this story. The story had an interesting focus on power that people give each other and to themselves, and most of all it had an open ending. As far as I can tell, this was not a fairytale retelling, but I could be wrong and if I am, I would love to know what the original story was based on.