Fairy Tales 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where to Lay the Blame

This story by Howard Pyle is a fairy tale for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there is quite a bit of unexplained magic thrown into a very short tale. We start with a relatively typical character, a poor man who faces the daily problem of hunger. After a long day of fishing without success, he returns home to his wife who is cooking him dinner. Before he can eat, however, the magician enters his house and convinces him to go fishing one last time. On this bizarre trip, the man encounters an expanding palace in which the magician is king., but he is told that during the travels, he should neither speak nor see his means of travel. The man obeys the first time, but on the way back from the castle, he cannot resist but to look. Upon doing so, he notes that he is riding a billy goat, and cries out in exclamation of this. This is what causes everything to disappear such that the man is thrown back down into his own house without the promised gold. For some bizarre reason, the first thing the man says then is that he should not have listened to his wife's advice about going with the magician. I find this quite bizarre because I don't know why this man would blame his wife for his troubles when she is the one providing him with food. In a twisted way, this story reminds me of Bluebeard because there is a forbidden action which the main character is supposed to avoid. Here though, instead of the wife actually doing the forbidden deed, the man is, and he is allowed at the end to blame her for his own poor choices. The lack of food, the mysterious magic, and the wrong-doing all lead to the conclusion that this story is indeed a fairy tale, even if it is different from all others we've read before.

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