SurLaLune Header Logo

This is an archived string from the
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Discussion Board.

Back to June 2007 Archives Table of Contents

Return to Board Archives Main Page

Visit the Current Discussions on Yuku

Visit the SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page

Author
Comment
moonway
Registered User
(6/13/07 6:59 pm)


Beheading as a cure for transformation
For most of this year I've been telling my daughter a fairy tale each night, which means that I have to read a lot of fairy tales. Two elements that come up in a lot of fairy tales bother me. One is the wicked stepmother. I explained to Emma that it must be difficult to be a stepmother, since there is all this negative propaganda. "Not all stepmothers are wicked," I told her.

"Yes they are," she replied, and reminded me of a friend of hers who (honest to God!) lives a Cinderella-type of existence. It is so sad! Her stepmother is so mean to her, and the poor girl is so cute and harmless.

ANYWAY, the second thing that bothers me is what I want to ask about. It's that characters who've been transformed into animals ask to be beheaded so they can return to human form. Today I was reading "The Seven Foals" in The Red Fairy Book, and there, just as in so many other fairy tales, the horses ask the hero to cut their heads off. When he does, they turn into princes.

If there was only one or two fairy tales in which this happens I wouldn't have anything to say, but this happens A LOT. Does anyone have any idea why? I hate to put it this way, but what sense does it make? I mean, I know it's a fairy tale, but I expect a story to have some kind of internal logic.

Does anyone have any kind of explanation? thanks.

Kaleigh Way

Edited by: moonway at: 6/14/07 4:49 am
MaryCatelli
Registered User
(6/13/07 9:00 pm)


Re: Beheading as a cure for transformation
On the stepmother -- you could point out that with a good stepmother, the story would generally go, "A man married a second time after his first wife died, and his second wife was good to his children, so they lived happily ever after."

You could also, just for variety, read her "The Horse Gullfaxi and the Sword Gunnfoder" from The Crimson Fairy Book.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(6/13/07 9:09 pm)


Re: Beheading as a cure for transformation
For the beheading transformation -- I've seen it myself. (If not in more radical forms -- The Pink Fairy Book has "The Wounded Lion." -- which makes beheading look simple.)

My only hypothesis is that transformation is so radical that it needs an equally radical thing to cause it.

Edited by: MaryCatelli at: 6/13/07 9:46 pm
Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(6/13/07 9:14 pm)


stepfather
And with a bad stepfather, it would go, "Once a boy had a bad stepfather, so as soon as he was old enough to do anything, he ran away from home. Then the real story would start, so why bother?"

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(6/13/07 9:17 pm)


transformations
There's one about a black toad who wants a bonfire built, tells the hero to go away, and soon a beautiful princess appears near the fire, and the toad is never seen again.

Monika
Registered User
(6/13/07 9:46 pm)


Re: transformations
Re beheading: the transformation requires a leap of faith, perhaps an act of sacrifice; I don't think a less drastic act would cut it. (er, no pun intended). It also seems tied up with the idea that death is required in order to be reborn.

This probably doesn't help much in terms of explaining things to a small child, just my thoughts on the subject.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(6/13/07 9:57 pm)


Re: stepfather
Well, there are occasional bad stepfathers. In Tales from Cloud-Walking Country, there's one with a queen who married three times, and the third time, she died, and her third husband decided to marry her daughter from her first marriage.

And there are stories that start out with the bad stepfather causing the son to run away. "The Little Bull-Calf" (collected by Joseph Jacobs in More English Fairy Tales) "The Gold-Bearded Man" (in The Crimson Fairy Book)

SurLaLune Logo

amazon logo with link

This is an archived string from the
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Discussion Board.

©2008 SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages

Back to June 2007 Archives Table of Contents

Return to Board Archives Main Page

Visit the Current Discussions on Yuku

Visit the SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page