What is the meaning of the tale of Bluebeard?
Is the story of Bluebeard based on a real person? Perhaps more so than any other fairy tale, we want to know whether the chilling tale of the serial killer and wife-murderer (and perhaps the example par excellence of toxic masculinity in children’s literature) is based on historical fact. Certainly, since it was first published in Charles Perrault’s collection of fairy tales in 1697, the tale of Bluebeard has exercised a peculiar fascination over readers, both young and old. A studied analysis of the horrific capabilities of corrupt masculinity (as suggested by the uber-masculine sobriquet of the central, murderous character), ‘Bluebeard’ is one of the most perennially popular of fairy tales – though far from the most typical. Here, there are no prince and princess destined to live happily ever after, no kindly woodsman, no evil stepmother.
The story of Bluebeard can be summarised thus: a wealthy man had a blue beard which made him extremely ugly, so that women ran away from him. It was known that he had been married several times before, but what had become of his wives, nobody knew. Read the rest of this entry
What is the meaning of this classic fairy tale?
What is the story of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ all about? And what is the moral of this story? It’s one of the best-known and best-loved fairy tales in Britain, and also – as we will see – one of the oldest.
First, a very short summary of the plot of the Jack and the beanstalk tale (or a refresher for those who are some way out of the nursery). Jack is a young and rather reckless boy who lives with his widowed mother. They become increasingly poor – thanks partly to Jack’s own carelessness – until the day comes when all they have left is a cow, which Jack’s mother tells him to take to the market to sell for money. Unfortunately, while on his way into town, Jack meets a bean dealer who says he will pay Jack a hat full of magic beans for the cow. Jack, delighted to have been made an offer on the cow before he’s even reached the market, lives up to his reckless reputation once again and agrees to the deal. He returns home with no cow and no money and only a hat full of beans to show for the journey; his mother, needless to say, is less than happy with this outcome, and hurls the beans out into the garden in her anger. They both retire to bed without having eaten, as they have no food left.
However, when Read the rest of this entry
On a well-known children’s rhyme
We continue our short pieces about star-related poems today, following on from yesterday’s post about Emily Dickinson’s star-poem. ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ is a well-known children’s poem, and yet, like many well-known things, how well do we actually know it? Who wrote it, for instance? And who can recite the second verse of the poem? Is it a poem, or a song? Clearly these matters require a little investigation and analysis to become fully clear. But first, a reminder of ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ – and we mean the full version, not just that famous first verse.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon, Read the rest of this entry