Monday, June 17, 2013

Been Grimm: It's clobberin' time!

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm collected a lot of stories, not just the dozen or so that are best known. This is one of them, and it's fairly harrowing. It doesn't take much - any - elaboration to see "Fitcher's Bird" as a story of rape and domestic violence. What's more, it posits these things as horrible crimes that merit and will ultimately bring forth a severe punishment. Which doesn't sound like much, except... The story has its origiins in a time when women were considered the property of their husbands.

So I wonder. Is this a case of the folk tale acting as a kind of folk conscience? And how many more such cases are there?


susan said...

When I was a child I had a very old copy (without pictures) of Grimm's Fairy Tales that wouldn't be considered suitable for kids today. I loved it and couldn't understand why Cinderella's sisters didn't cut off parts of their feet to fool the Prince (it was a bird telling him there was blood on the ground that gave them away)in the Disney version.

Fitcher's Bird is certainly scary enough and you may be right about the women as property issue. However, those old tales have proven to be very fertile territory for Jungian psychoanalysts in particular. Bluebeard is a very similar story.

Ben said...

The blood from the shoes was a pretty big telling detail, so from a storytelling perspective you're hobbling yourself (heh heh) by not including it. While I know the Disney version has some good songs, I'm not sure I've seen the movie itself, so I don't know how the prince catches them.

The similarities with Bluebeard are mentioned in the Wikipedia page, and I thought of them. Maybe they have overlapping sources? But yes, there's a lot of material here to be explored by a Jungian analyst.