A damsel in distress is a young, often beautiful woman who is in desperate need of rescue by a brave, strong man.
The “damsel in distress” theme is seen time and again in art, literature, religious scriptures and pop culture.
Take for example every single Disney princess movie.
The “damsel”, meaning “young woman”, is threatened and/or kidnapped by a villain or monster, and helpless as she is, she is just waiting to be rescued by her hero, who she will declare her love for when he saves her (even though they literally just met).
The term “damsel” is derived from the French word “damoiselle”, meaning “young woman” or “maiden”.
“Damsel in distress” as a whole is, in fact, directly translated from the French saying “demoiselle en détresse”, and it was first recorded in English in 1692, in Richard Ames poem “”Sylvia’s Complaint of Her Sexes Unhappiness.”
Stories about “damsels in distress” has been told all though history of mankind, from all corners of the world.
In the Hindu religious script Ramayana, “Sita” is kidnapped by evil “Ravana”, then to be rescued by her brave husband “Rama”.
The theme is often featured in Ancient Greek Mythology.
In modern days, however, the theme has strongly decreased in popularity as the feminist movements do not appreciate women repeatedly being pictured as weak and helpless.
Because of this, recent pop-culture has turned towards presenting more strong and independent heroines, rather than “damsels in distress”.
- Wikipedia – Damsel in distress