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A Summary and Analysis of the ‘Bluebeard’ Fairy Tale

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

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A Summary and Analysis of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’

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

A Summary and Analysis of ‘The Frog Prince’

An introduction to a classic fairy tale

Beware of amphibians who can speak in verse. That seems to be the moral of ‘The Frog Prince’, though we’re not sure about that. ‘The Frog Prince’ is perhaps, of all the classic fairy tales, the one that most succinctly encapsulates the notion of ‘fairy tales’, ‘the fairy-tale ending’, and the spirit of transformation and ‘living happily ever after’ which pervades so many of the best-loved fairy tales. But what is the meaning of ‘The Frog Prince’, and what are the story’s origins? Before we offer an analysis of the story’s key features, it might be worth summarising its content:

A young princess is playing with a golden ball by a woodland spring one day, throwing the ball in the air and catching it. Once when she throws the ball up, though, she fails to catch it and it falls into the spring. She looks into the water but it’s so deep that she cannot see the bottom of the spring, and so cannot retrieve her ball. She’s so fond of her little ball that she sighs and says she would give all her fine clothes and possessions if she could get it back. Read the rest of this entry