Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bluebeard, The Robber Bridegroom and Fitcher's Bird

                “The Robber Bridegroom”, “Fitcher’s Bird” and “Bluebeard” are all fairy tales with similar storylines. In each one, a young bride arrives at her husband or soon-to-be-husband’s house. There, she is greeted with a cruel reality in which the husband has murdered many other women. Through her own wit, she is able to escape, and the husband is killed in the end. “Fitcher’s Bird” and “Bluebeard” are the most similar, as the young bride is given a set of keys to every room in the house and told that she can enter any room except one. Of course, the bride investigates this room at the first opportunity and finds bodies of many other former wives. She is shocked and drops an object that she was given (a key in “Bluebeard” and an egg in “Fitcher’s Bird”) and it is stained with blood and therefore is evidence of her disobedience. Her husband comes home and asks for this object back and discovers that she has not followed his instructions. He is very angry and wants to kill her. This is where the two stories divert from each other. In “Bluebeard”, the bride asks for some time to pray and is granted a short period. She uses this time to send her sister to watch for her brothers’ arrival and signal them to hurry up. Bluebeard begins to kill her, but does not succeed as her brothers show up and save the day. However, in “Fitcher’s Bird”, the bride is killed and the sorcerer marries the second sister. The outcome of this marriage is identical, and so he marries the third and youngest daughter. She outsmarts him by keeping the egg safely in her room while she explores the forbidden chamber. Then, she decorates a skull and puts it in the tower of the castle, so that it appears to be her looking out. She effectively tricks the sorcerer, and escapes. Her brothers then come to kill the sorcerer and all of his evil cronies. These two tales are very similar but contain slight differences. For example, Bluebeard is a man with a blue beard, which is strange. However, it does not give him any special powers. The husband in “Fitcher’s Bird” is actually a sorcerer. Both stories contain magical objects, like the key and the egg, which cannot be cleaned of the blood from the forbidden chamber. These objects make sense when the groom is a sorcerer, but they are a bit surprising in “Bluebeard”.

                “The Robber Bridegroom”, while similar to these stories, diverts quite a bit. A young woman is promised to a man, and he insists that she should visit his house in the woods before the wedding. She follows a trail of ashes that he leaves her and sprinkles peas on the ground on either side to ensure her way back. She then arrives to an empty house and finds an old woman who tells her to hide. As soon as she is hidden from view, her betrothed arrives with a band of robbers and they have a young woman with them. They kill the young woman and cook her in a stew. When the robbers are asleep, the old woman and the young bride escape and follow the trail of peas home. The robber comes to marry the girl the next day, and at the wedding she tells the story of what happened the previous night. The robber is killed, along with his comrades. This story is different from the previous two, because the girl did not disobey her fiancée outright. She was not tested the way that the other two heroines were. However, like the other two, she saves herself and causes the fiancée to get what he deserves.

                I liked “Bluebeard” the best out of all three tales. In the first two tales, I liked the test aspect of the story, when the brides are told not to enter a certain room.  However, I did not like that the first two sisters were killed in “Fitcher’s Bird”, mostly because the next sister always saw their bodies in the chamber. I found this to be a bit too gruesome for me. I also thought that the bride in Bluebeard was very clever by asking for a few minutes to pray before he kills her.  She was able to use this time effectively to save herself, although she sustained a few injuries before her brothers arrived. Overall, all the aspects of these stories that I liked, like the test, were in “Bluebeard”.

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