I know, technically today is supposed to be Dave’s book, but as I was unable to complete my task of reading the fairy tales last week, I am continuing for this week.
So, last week, I know I promised to tell you the tales that Disney didn’t want you to know, but there were really no other Disney tales left, only Rapunzel was left. As some of you may know, a few years ago the movie Tangled came out, which was a retelling of the Rapunzel story. The woman that kept Rapunzel locked up was painted as a selfish, vain woman who wickedly keeps Rapunzel to herself, lying etc etc. In the original, Rapunzel’s parents are not kings and queens as in Tangled, but just simple folk. They live next door to a witch, who grows a garden behind her wall. The pregnant woman, gazing into the garden, sees rapunzel (a type of plant) and desires and craves it so much and will die without it. Her husband sneaks in and steals some. The wife eats it and then craves it again. When the husband sneaks back in to steal more, the witch catches him. She agrees to give him the rapunzel but only if she can have the child if it’s a girl. It is a girl, the witch takes her, and to keep her safe from the world puts her in the tower. Years pass, and a prince going by hears her singing (Rapunzel not the witch) and figures out how to climb her hair. They fall in love and he comes in the night since the witch comes during the day. Here’s where the story has a couple of different versions before Disney changed it more…in one, Rapunzel complains about her dress getting tight and the witch realizes she is pregnant. In the other, she says something one day about how the prince gets up there so quick and the witch so slow. The witch then casts her out to wander the world, and cuts her hair. She lures the prince up and shoves him out the window, where he pokes out his eyes with brambles and is blind. Then Rapunzel & he find one another and her tears give his sight back and she had twins during the interim. Cue the happily live ever after.
I think it is interesting how stories do change over the years, as evidenced by the cleaning up of the too tight dress to the remark about climbing speed. In Grimms, many stories have same elements, some having the same character with similiar events, but still fairly different. I assume it’s because over the years different regions developed the same story different. I like to imagine someone moving from one village or town to another, then telling the tale and as the decades pass the tale changes, thereby creating two very different tales.
Three of the major types I found as I read through them were the animal ones, where animals were all the main characters or where the animals are the ones that save the hero or heroine (the human is often kind to an animal and then later given a heroic quest that must be achieved to either win the princess or to keep their life) and the animal returns to assist. These ones also follow into the next subset, the hero quest stories, which the hero, usually some young guy who doesn’t want to be at home anymore, wanders off, and hearing of a task a king has set for anyone to achieve and marry his daughter, goes and takes the task. They complete the task, but the king actually doesn’t want said commoner to marry his precious daughter so continues to give tasks. The clever lad completes all and wins the girl. There are also the ones where the girl is the clever one. Another set is the one where one girl or one boy is unselfish and giving and because of that gains untold riches and gifts. Their sister, friend, brother, father or mother are not unselfish and attempt to obtain the same riches, only to be killed, forced to have frogs fall out of their mouth every word they say or their eyes pecked out (the Germans must have been very afraid of eyes being pecked out). There was also the religious category where tales sprang up around the apostles, God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. They were often morality tales.
As I was reading through, I often felt like I was listening to someone tell a tale. Like getting a whiff of old campfire smoke or old fireplace smoke, I seemed to get a whiff of the old times, where there was no tv and these tales were the tv of the night. Or the tv of the day while people did their work. That right there made it worth my time to read them all, I felt a sense of history. However, they are also entertaining.
I read my two favorites from when I was little, that I had forgotten until I read them again. One is Rose Red and Snow White, in which two beautiful daughters of a simple woman are close as close can be. There is such a playful humor to the tale that I think that is partly what captivated me as a child. I still loved it when I reread it. The other one was Six Swans (which I could find nowhere to link to for it), which shows a youngest sister of 6 brothers sacrificing her voice and her ability to defend herself for six years, until such a time as she was about to be burnt alive and the years ended and she was able to defend herself. It is a lyrical almost haunting tale to me. I recommend if you have a copy of them look this one up.
I would definitely recommend to anyone reading this, irregardless of whether they have children or not. But these also would make a great gift for a young child, girl or boy above the age of 6 (it’s not illustrated so with whatever reading skill they are at).