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Elisa

From The Wild Swans (1962) Soviet animated version.

Elisa is the heroine from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Wild Swans. Elisa saves her brothers who have been turned into swans by their wicked stepmother who become queen, was actually a witch. Elisa's stepmother banishes her and a wise old woman advises her to make a coat of neetles in order for her to save her brothers. However, she cannot speak until all her brothers where the neetle coats. Elisa herself is almost punished for witchcraft due to her suspicous activities of trying to save her brothers.

Story

Elisa had eleven brothers, and no mother, the latter being dead. Their father, the king, remarried to a woman, who was secretly a witch. She hated her stepchildren, and turned the boys into swans, they had to fly away as the wicked stepmother swore she would make them slaughter by her archers. She tried to curse Elisa as well, but failed, and dyed her skin and hair while the princess was sleeping. Nobody recognized that hideous girl the next morning and she was chased away from the castle.

Elisa errand, and found a river she bathed in, becoming beautiful again. She then followed the river and found back her brothers on a beach. Elisa wished to give them back their apparence, and the next night, she dreamed of the fairy Morgana. The latter told her Elisa had to make eleven shirts made of nettles tow for each of her brothers, and never talk during said task.

The next day, Elisa gathered nettles near the cave she and her brothers lived in, and started to make shirts from them. One day, a prince passed by, and was stunned by Elisa's beauty. Despite she was mute, he was soon in love with her, coming back to see her each day. Elisa was in love too, but couldn't protest when the prince took her in his kingdom to marry her.

Fortunately the swans find her back, after she married the prince. Elisa had not finished her shirts, and still did not talk.She seemed suspect to a courtier, and he denounced Elisa as a witch after he saw her going in cemeteries at night, where she was actually searching for nettles. After the third time, Elisa, who still couldn't defend herself, was condemned for witchcraft.

On the day of her execution by burning at the stake, Elisa was going on doing the shirts on her cart, with the swans flying after her. The eleventh lacked a thread, but the stake was on sight and Elisa thrown the shirts on the swans, who turned back into humans. One of the brothers though, due to the missing thread, kept forever a feather on his arm. Elisa could talk, clear her name, and lived happily ever after with her brothers and husband.

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