Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blue Murder

The three fairy tales of "Fitcher's Bird", "The Robber Bridegroom", and "Bluebeard" are all very similar in nature. All three have a murderous husband or husband-to-be, and involves the bride narrowly escaping death. However, in each tale, the way that the bride is able to escape her fate differs in a unique way.

In the French tale "Bluebeard", the new wife is left by her husband for six weeks. Bluebeard gives her the keys to all the rooms in the house, but cautions her not to use the small key to open the small room or he "should be so angry he might do anything" (Perrault 1). However, despite occupying her time with visits from family and friends, Bluebeard's wife is unable to resist the temptation to look inside the smallest room. When she opens the door, she discovers that the floor is covered with blood and several women's bodies are hung on the wall. In her shock, she drops the key, which is bewitched so that, no matter how hard she tries, she is unable to remove the bloodstains. When her husband returns and learns of her disobedience, he declares that she, too, must die. The girl is only saved by the intervention of her brothers, who arrive just in time and killed the treacherous Bluebeard. This story is different from the others, for in this tale the bride does nothing to try to extricate herself from the situation, and merely waits and hopes that others will come to rescue her. This is not my favorite of the tales, for I do not like the fact that the girl knew that her murdering husband would come back, and still she did not prepare for the event or flee from the house.

Of the three tales, "The Robber Bridegroom" is the most different in regards to plot. The groom in the story is part of a group of cannibals, and the bride discovers his intent to eat her when she observes him kill and eat another girl. Unlike the girl in "Bluebeard," the bride in this tale does not wait for her fate to overtake her and hope that someone else will intervene. Instead, she tells the story of what she observed in the cannibals' house on the day of the wedding, pretending at first that it was a dream until she produces the murdered girl's finger as proof. The guests then catch the group of cannibals, and all are executed. Another difference between this story and that of "Bluebeard" and "Fitcher's Bird" is the lack of magic; there is no magic key that betrays the bride, nor is there any other form of magic.

My favorite of the three tales is "Fitcher's Bird". In this story, a sorcerer uses magic to catch three sisters, one by one, and carry them off to his house. This tale is similar to "Bluebeard" in that the sorcerer gives the girls a key, but forbids them to go into that room. They are also given an egg to take care of. The first two girls go into the forbidden room, when they discover a bloody basin full of corpses, into which they drop the egg. Similar to the key in "Bluebeard," the egg is bewitched to keep the bloodstains, and the sorcerer kills the girls and chops them up. However, the third girl he brings there does not drop the egg. Instead, she pieces her sisters back together, and the girls come back to life. The sorcerer returns, finding that his power over the girl is gone, and the rest of the tale involves the girl manipulating him until the village sets his house on fire. I enjoyed this tale the most, for the heroine showed the most ingenuity in freeing not only herself, but her sisters from the terrible situation.

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