for the Diamonds and Toads fairy tale are below. Sources have been cited in parenthetical
references, but I have not linked them directly to their full citations
which appear on the Diamonds and Toads Bibliography page. I have provided links back to the Annotated
Diamonds and Toads to facilitate referencing between the notes and the tale.
1. A widow: A widow often inspires sympathy, perhaps even pity, in fairy tales, except for when she is a stepmother, too. Here the woman is not a stepmother, but she quickly loses the audience's sympathy with her abusive behavior. Return to place in story.
2.Two daughters: According to the Opies, "in the manuscript version of 1695 the sisters are stepsisters, the beautiful younger girl being the daughter of her father's first wife, as in Cinderella. This was doubtless the relationship in the traditional story; but Perrault probably altered it to make the situation less like that in the Cinderella story" (Opie 1974, 100). Other variants of the tale, such as Mother Holle, maintain the stepfamily relationships. Return to place in story.
3.Eldest: Eldest siblings are usually favored by their parents in fairy tales, perhaps due to their right of inheritance. Usually their personalities and lives are left undescribed beyond the explanation that they have inherited the best portion from their parents. Youngest siblings often receive the worst inheritance and must learn to fend for themselves, a popular fairy tale motif. Return to place in story.
4.Disagreeable and so proud: "Pride goeth before a fall." This tale is a moralistic warning against pride and laziness. Return to place in story.
5.Youngest: Fairy tales often contain multiple siblings in which the youngest becomes the protagonist. Traditional folklore is primarily interested in only children or youngest siblings. Either the youngest is the most beautiful and worthy--often female protagonists--or the youngest is stupid and lucky--often male protagonists. In either scenario, the youngest achieves good fortune through an adventure and/or magical helper. "It is the modest, the humble, and often the dispossessed who are elevated to noble rank" (Tatar, 2002, 235). Return to place in story.
7.Courtesy and sweetness of temper: We are provided characters that are polar opposites so that we can see the rewards of good and bad behavior. Return to place in story.
8.One of the most beautiful girls: Hyperbole is frequently used to describe beauty in fairy tales. Each beautiful woman has "no equal" or is "the most beautiful" or similar. Beauty often represents goodness, worthiness, privilege, and wealth in fairy tales. Princesses are especially expected to be beautiful. Physical beauty is often considered to represent inner beauty in folklore, except for when it is a magical disguise. Return to place in story.
9.Made her eat in the kitchen and work continually: The youngest, thanks to her sweet nature and beauty, has become a servant in her own home. The mother and sister's treatment of the younger daughter is reminiscent of Cinderella's abuse. Return to place in story.
10.Child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a-half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it: While this sounds like a horrible chore, especially in the age of indoor plumbing, such tasks were part of the daily existence in small villages where a fountain or well would serve as the municipal waterworks. The great distance is the greater burden since the pitcher would be heavy with no wagon or beast of burden to lighten the load. Return to place in story.
11.Fountain: Fountains or wells appear in many variants of the tale, even those with substantially different story lines, such as The Three Heads of the Well and Mother Holle. In Mother Holle, the youngest daughter drops a shuttle down the well and is told to fetch it by her stepmother despite the danger. She goes down the well and loses consciousness. She wakes up in a different world and meets Mother Holle, a benevolent character who appreciates the girl's industrious spirit. Return to place in story.
12.A poor woman: Most societies reverence acts of charity towards the elderly and destitute. Most also teach the creed to "honor your elders."
Wash me and comb me,
And lay me down softly.
And lay me on a bank to dry,
That I may look pretty,
When somebody passes by.
The youngest daughter performs these tasks with gentle reserve and is thus rewarded for her humble service (and perhaps her strong stomach). Return to place in story.
13.Who begged of her to let her drink: The woman requests a simple service, the drawing and sharing of water from a well. Many stories from around the world, for example Bible stories, center around the request for water from a well, including "Rebecca at the Well" in the Old Testament and "The Woman at the Well" in the New Testament. Return to place in story.
14.Goody: A more exact translation of Perrault's French would be "my dear lady." Goody is short for Goodwife or Goodwoman (usually used for the middle classes), a polite term of address such as Mrs. or Ms. is today, but slightly more familiar. Return to place in story.
15.So good and so mannerly: The woman states the exact reason why she is giving a fairy gift to the youngest daughter. It is intended to be a reward for good behavior. The tale is overtly didactic, explaining the rewards for good behavior and the penalties for bad behavior. In some variants, the emphasis is less on good vs. bad behavior and more on industry vs. laziness, such as in Mother Holle. Return to place in story.
16.This was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman: Fairies or other magical beings are frequently disguising themselves in order to test the mettle of characters in fairy tales. In some variations with a strong Catholic influence, the woman may be the Virgin Mary or another saint. In some Russian variants, the benevolent character is God himself. Return to place in story.
17.I will give you for a gift: In much of folklore, fairy gifts that are meant to be positive, or at least appear to be benevolent, often end up becoming curses due to the fairies' fickle and perverse spirits.
"The English fairies had indeed a code of behaviour which they exacted from the humans whom they happened to meet. Kindliness, courtesy, open-handedness and orderly ways, these were essential to gaining their favour. They had no patience with misers or sluts; but these were qualities demanded in intercourse between humans and fairies, they were not generally a deliberate educational effort....In the French fairy tales, however, the fairies seem to have made human morals their chief concern" (Briggs 1967, 2002; 222-3). Return to place in story.
18.Every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel: There is direct symbolism between the girl's virtues and her fairy gift. Since her words are kind and virtuous, they are literally given material value. Is this gift really a blessing? The girl's words will forever be a nuisance and distraction in conversation.
In other variants of the tale, the girl receives treasures in a box, stuck on her person (which can be removed), or whenever she combs her hair. Sometimes she is blessed with eternal beauty. Return to place in story.
19.Two roses: Roses often symbolize "completion, perfection, God, beauty, paradise, Christ, and the Virgin Mary" (Olderr 1986). Roses are generally considered the most beautiful flower, esteemed above all over varieties. Return to place in story.
20.Two pearls: Pearls often symbolize "innocence, purity, faith, wealth, health, salvation, and self-sacrifice" (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
21.Two diamonds: Diamonds often symbolize "light, perfection, fortitude, pride, hardness, intelligence, invulernable faith, joy, life, dignity, and wealth" (Olderr 1986). They are generally the most precious stones. Return to place in story.
22.I must send my child thither: The mother, horrified to see her youngest daughter receive such wealth, decides to send her preferred daughter to achieve the same goal. She still can't love the youngest daughter despite her new source of wealth. Return to place in story.
23.Fanny: Perrault used the name Fanchon in the original French version of the tale. Most translators choose the name Fanny for English translations of the tale. Fanny is a short name or nickname for Frances in English. The name has been very popular at times in history although it is not popular today. It is unusual for a fairy tale character to have a name not related to her role in the story if she has one at all. Return to place in story.
24.Give it to her very civilly: Civil has the meaning to be "not rude; marked by satisfactory (or especially minimal) adherence to social usages and sufficient but not noteworthy consideration for others" (WordNet). The eldest daughter is shown the results of good behavior and admonished to behave accordingly. Will she be able to overcome her bad habits? Return to place in story.
25.Minx: Today a minx is "a seductive woman who uses her sex appeal to exploit men" (WordNet). Obsolete defintions of the word are "a she puppy" and a "mink or mink otter" (Webster's 1990). Return to place in story.
26.Hussy: In this context, hussy means "a worthless woman or girl; used as a term of contempt or reproach" (Webster's 1990). Return to place in story.
27.Best silver tankard: A tankard is a "large drinking vessel with one handle" that usually has a cover (WordNet). It is usually nicer than a pitcher. Return to place in story.
28.A lady most gloriously dressed: In a class-conscious society, a woman of obvious wealth and social stature would expect gentle and humble treatment, even over a poor old woman. That the daughter cannot be kind to her "betters" shows the height of her terrible pride. Return to place in story.
29.However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy: Despite the warning and advice she received to be on her best behavior, the girl's true nature cannot be overcome. She is naturally rude and familiar. For her, this language and behavior is probably the nicest she can produce. Return to place in story.
30.At every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad: Once again, the punishment fits the crime. Since the girl's words are rude and disgusting, she will have disgusting objects issue from her mouth whenever she speaks.
In other variants, the eldest daughter is covered with tar or pitch that cannot be removed, given a box of serpents, riddled with leprosy, or cursed with eternal ugliness. Return to place in story.
35.The forest: Woods or forests frequently appear as settings in fairy tales. Forests symbolize the female principle, the unconscious, danger, mistakes, problems, fertility, and enchantment. They often serve as the homes for outlaws such as in the Robin Hood legend, fairies, or supernatural beings (Olderr 1986). Return to place in story.
36.The King's son: A prince is the suitor and a common character in romantic fairy tales such as this one.
When fairy tales came into being "princes and princesses were as rare as they are today, and fairy tales simply abound with them. Every child at some time wishes that he were a prince or a princess--and at times, in his unconscious, the child believes he is one, only temporarily degraded by circumstances. There are so many kings and queens in fairy tales because their rank signifies absolute power, such as the parent seems to hold over his child. So the fairy-tale royalty represent projections of the child's imagination" (Bettelheim 1975). Return to place in story.
37.Hunting: In times past, hunting was a popular activity among the nobility, used for sport and necessity. The game was often used for food, but for trophies as well. Return to place in story.
38.Considering himself that such a gift was worth more than any marriage portion: The reader is left to wonder how much the prince values his bride's charms over her continous production of wealth. Here is a girl who must wonder if she is valued only for her material riches. The prince himself decides that her special gift more than makes up for her lack of a marriage dowry. Return to place in story.
39.Married her: Marriage is the ultimate goal and reward in many romantic fairy tales. Despite the bridegroom's mercenary thoughts, we are intended to believe in a happily ever after for the couple. Return to place in story.
40.Went to a corner of the wood, and there died: While it may be harsh to call her evil, the eldest sister is definitely rude and antagonistic. Antagonists usually suffer just deaths at the end of fairy tales. The eldest sister's antisocial behavior causes her to die miserable and alone in the woods. Return to place in story.