The Princess, Love, Art, and Death
Orpheus is a character from the Roman book
The Metamorphoses of Ovid
and the 1950’s
Jean Cocteau directed the film, and changed the storyline drastically.
though the stories take place thousands of years apart, Cocteau still maintained the same overall
plot and themes as the original work.
Both works tell the story of Orpheus going to the
underworld to get his wife he loves so much, and while leaving the underworld he must not look
Nevertheless, Orpheus fails to do so, and looks at Eurydice, sending her back to the
Although the settings take place hundreds of years apart,
both relate death, love, and art. Through the addition of a character Cocteau
seems to relate all three in a more fascinating way through his use of symbolism, personification,
and other techniques.
Why does Cocteau add a second female character, The Princess (Death), in the movie
there is an additional main female character who is a personification of death,
and is referred to as the Princess.
Eurydice, Orpheus’s wife, appears in both works, but is the
only main female character in
Cocteau may have added The Princess to his
story for a number of reasons.
She represents a relationship between love and death for Orpheus,
and the death of women.
In both versions of the story Orpheus is in love with death in more ways than one.
Eurydice is killed in the beginning of Ovid’s version, and Orpheus is deeply saddened by the loss