Original Fairy Tales Part 2

Last time I did Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Gingerbread Man, The Frog Prince, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, and Jack and the Beanstalk. Of course, these aren’t the only fairy tales we all know since I’m going to go over a few more in this one. Let’s just say that while fairy tales are said to contain fantastical elements or happy endings, sometimes neither is the case. And sometimes there’s a lot of violence thrown in as well. So now on with more fairy tales and their original versions I should talk about accordingly.

Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood at her grandmother's. "Grandmother" looks inexplicably hairy with big teeth.

Little Red Riding Hood at her grandmother’s. “Grandmother” looks inexplicably hairy with big teeth.

How You Know It: Red hooded girl goes out into the woods with a basket of goodies to give to her sick grandmother. On her way, she is stopped by a wolf who asks her where she’s going. Too innocent to know better, she just tells him flat out. The wolf later takes a shortcut to the grandmother’s house, either swallows her or holds the grandmother hostage, and sits in her bed wearing her bedclothes. When Little Red arrives, she remarks on how unusual her “grandmother” looks until she says “Grandma, what big teeth you have!” In which the wolf replies, “All the better to eat you with my dear!” Wolf springs out while Little Red is either eaten or escapes. Yet, soon Little Red and her grandmother are rescued by a passing huntsman (or lumberjack) who kills the wolf, and they all live happily ever after.

The Original Version: The original Little Red Riding Hood first appeared in print as a story by 17th century French writer Charles Perrault (yet this tale may have been as old as the 10th century). And in that version, the story ends with the girl’s death followed by a moral such as, “Children, especially attractive, well-bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf.” This might mean that, “any stranger could be a pedophile, serial killer, and/or rapist.” There’s no woodsman who saves her at the last minute, there’s no grandmother, and the wolf lives, end of story. Also, in Perrault’s story, she didn’t have a red hood but a red cape, which was his artistic touch for original folk tale didn’t even describe what color Little Red’s cloak was (and the Grimm Brothers added the hood part though their version has a happier ending as well as a sequel in which Little Red and her grandmother kill another wolf themselves). Still, some of the early versions play this fairy tale as one of seduction with the wolf not just wanting to eat Little Red and in some earlier variants. And in early versions with a happy ending, the wolf is punished horribly such as the huntsman either cutting him open or filling his stomach full of stones. Oh, and in some of these, Little Red gets away from the wolf with no outside help from anyone.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Pied Piper luring the kids out of the town with his music because he didn't get paid.

Pied Piper luring the kids out of the town with his music because he didn’t get paid.

How You Know It: Town hires broke musician to clear local rat infestation with his unconventional methods in exchange to pay him back. Rat catching musician lures rats away with his musical chops but the townspeople reneged on their promise and refuse to pay him. In revenge, the Pied Piper uses his music on the local kids who follow him out of the town and who knows where and are never seen again.

The Original Version: This is a very old tale which may have roots from a true story of how Hamelin lost its children but in the original the kiddos are all drowned in the river. The earliest record from the town chronicles is in the entry from 1384 which says “It is 100 years since our children left.” Some historians believe that the plague killed all the kids while others speculate that they were forced to move due to overpopulation. There are even some who say that this story was an allegory to the disastrous Children’s Crusade (though this may not have consisted just kids but also displaced homeless people) and that the Pied Piper was Nicholas of Colonge. There are plenty of other theories out there as well.

Puss in Boots

Puss meets the ogre.

Puss meets the ogre.

How You Know It: Miller dies and his youngest son finds himself stuck with the old man’s anthropomorphic cat. Cat promises to make the guy rich if he buys him some boots. Once he has them, Puss makes several visits to the local king claiming to be a servant to the Marquis of Carabas, each time bringing gifts he caught himself. He soon has his owner play up the ruse by having him skinny dip in a river with Puss claiming that someone stole his clothes in front of the king and his daughter. Puss then has the country folk brought into his scheme by having the king tell the king that the lands belong to the Marquis of Carabas or else face certain death. He later goes to the castle in which he flatters and taunts the resident ogre into proving his powers by transforming into a mouse, whereupon Puss promptly kills and eats him. When the king arrives, he is impressed with the bogus marquis and his estate and gives him his daughter in marriage and everyone lives happily ever after.

The Original Version: The most familiar version of this story was “The Master Cat, or The Cat in Boots” by 17th century French writer Charles Perrault but the cat in the story wasn’t named Puss in Boots, it was just a fan nickname. However, this tale of the trickster cat is way older than what many people expect. The earliest version is actually by a Hindu priest from Kashmir whose 5th century compilation the Panchatantra has a tale following a cat similar to Puss but he fares much less well than Perrault’s version as he attempts to make his fortune in the king’s palace.

Miller son changes into clothes and meets princess.

Miller son changes into clothes and meets princess.

In 1553, the Venetian writer Giovanni Francesco Straparola had a tale “Costantino Fortunato” which also falls on similar lines of Puss in Boots except that it takes place in Bohemia, the young man is the son of a local woman, the cat is a fairy in disguise, and the castle belongs to a lord who conveniently perishes in an accident. The young man eventually becomes Bohemia’s king. Yet, we’re not sure whether this one had origins in oral tradition or Straparola just made it up.

Then there’s a similar Puss in Boots tale published in 1634 by Neapolitan Giambattista Basile, yet the young man is actually a beggar whose fortunes are achieved in the same manner as Perrault’s. Yet, the tale ends with the former beggar boy promising the cat a gold coffin at his death as an expression of his gratitude. Three days later, the cat plays dead to test his master and is absolutely mortified to hear his master tell his wife to take the dead cat by its paws and throw it out the window. The cat leaps up frantic to know whether this was a better reward for helping his owner to a better life and runs away, leaving the ungrateful bastard to fend for himself. It’s almost certain that Charles Perrault wasn’t aware of these previous versions.

Rapunzel

Witch about to get Rapunzel a haircut after discovering what she was doing with the prince.

Witch about to get Rapunzel a haircut after discovering what she was doing with the prince.

How You Know It: Witch kidnaps abnormally long haired girl and shuts her up in a tower due to her dad stealing some of her garden plant to satisfy her mom’s pregnancy cravings. The only way to have access to the tower was to say “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.” A smitten prince gets wind of this, climbs up to rescue her and the two live happily ever after.

The Original Version: The best known version is by the Brothers Grimm (though probably based on a story called “Petronsinella” by Italian Giambattista Basile though it contains more bawdy language and Mamoidselle La Force’s Persinette which has a fairy instead of a witch) yet this is quite different in which prince doesn’t rescue Rapunzel the first time he’s up there (yet he visits several times) but while they do make plans to elope, they also engage in less family-friendly activities as revealed later when Rapunzel complains to the witch about how tight her dress was getting around the middle (though the Grimms would change this). This would cause the witch to cut off the girl’s hair to lure the prince in and banished her to the desert where she lives as a beggar with no home, no money, and two little mouths to feed after a few months. When the prince came, the witch pushed him off the tower into a bed of thorns which left him blind. They wandered in the desert for some time (during which Rapunzel bore twin boys) before running into each other. Rapunzel would embrace him weeping in which her tears restored the prince’s sight and they all lived happily ever after.

Rapunzel letting her hair down for the prince.

Rapunzel letting her hair down for the prince.

It is said that the tale has some elements to the story of Saint Barbara such as having the girl locked in a tower, though Barbara’s ordeal was more or less honor-related abuse for defying her dad and it didn’t end well for her. Then there’s the 10th century Persian tale Rudaba which also has the “let down your hair” motif. Still, there are many older forms such as the Italian tale “Snow White Fire-Red” in which the prince is cursed by an ogress for breaking her pitcher in which the only girl he could marry was Snow White Fire-Red (the “daughter” of another ogress who like Rapunzel also has extremely long hair and lives in a tower but we’re not sure how she got there). Oh, and she’s a magic girl who enchants furniture as well as other tricks. The story ends when the other ogress curses her to make the prince forget her but she later helps break that one, too. Older forms of Rapunzel have similar variants like this one.

Rumpelstiltskin

Weird little helper ask for payback but relents if queen could say his name.

Weird little helper ask for payback but relents if queen could say his name.

How You Know It: Miller boats about his daughter’s exaggerated domestic skills with the talent she could spin straw into gold in an effort to feel important. King catches wind of this and the girl finds herself locked in room and charged with the aforesaid impossible task with nothing but a spinning wheel and a royal death threat (yet, the king later says he’d marry the girl after he completes her task). Well, almost impossible when a weird little man suddenly shows up and offers to do the deed in exchange for a few favors such as her necklace, ring, and firstborn child. Once the girl marries the king and has a child, the weirdo shows up and tells her to pay up. Yet, the queen is rather unwilling to fulfill her end of the bargain for obvious reasons so the guy says that she could keep the kid if she can guess his name within the next three days. Frantic, the queen and her servants try to think up but finally a messenger does happen to catch the weird guy boasting about his name. The Queen guesses Rumpelstiltskin correctly and the little man’s plan is foiled.

The Original Version: Rumpelstitskin’s fate in the original story has him flying off the window on a spoon while the Grimms have him either simply leaving in a huff or tearing himself in two after stamping in a fit of rage. Still, this story has a lot of cultural variants. There’s also another Grimm tale called “The Three Aunts” which is about a girl in the same situation but instead of her firstborn child, the women just ask to attend her wedding as her aunts as well as ensure her that she won’t need their help again. Yet, the king did learn his lesson in that one once he saw what years of spinning did to these women.

Sleeping Beauty

Princess is fast asleep in magical coma.

Princess is fast asleep in magical coma.

How You Know It: A girl is born to a king and queen and all the fairies are invited to celebrate. Well, save one who shows up anyway and curses her to death by spindle touching while another just succeeds in softening the curse to sleep. However, despite the king and queen’s efforts to rid the kingdom, the princess ends up in a cursed sleep anyway (though sometimes the whole kingdom is put to sleep as well for a century). Soon the prince shows up, plants a kiss that brings her back to life and they live happily ever after.

The Original Version: While the best known version of this tale is the Grimm’s version which was probably the main inspiration for the Disney movie (sans the 13 fairies, magic frog, and a lot of dead suitors in the forest surrounding the castle), there are plenty of earlier variants. The earliest printed version was compiled by 17th century Neapolitan author Giambattista Basile whose retelling called “Sun, Moon, and Talia” would make Walt Disney look like a feminist. In this one, the princess falls in a magic coma not by pricking a spindle but touching a thread of hemp under her fingernail. Thinking her dead, her dad props her on a velvet chair and abandons her. Sometime later another king comes across that very castle while hunting and tries to check the place out. There he finds the sleeping princess, falls in love with her, carries her to the bed, rapes her, and leaves forgetting the whole affair. The princess wakes up when one of her infant twins sucks the splinter out of her finger (yes, she had twins while in her unconscious state.) Soon the king returns to see her again finds her awake and proceeds to confess that he was the kids’ father. Despite her not knowing anything about him other than as her rapist baby daddy, the two go on a weekend sex marathon in the hay, and the princess and twins move into the king’s castle but they are kept secret from his wife. The Queen soon finds out and orders the kids cooked and served to her husband but the cook hides the tots at his or her home and prepared a goat dish in its place. The Queen later sent for the princess just to have her thrown in the fire for having sex with her husband. Luckily, the king arrives, has his wife thrown in the fire, marries the princess, finds their kids and they all live happily ever after.

Prince finds Sleeping Beauty.

Prince finds Sleeping Beauty.

In the 17th century French writer Charles Perrault’s version of this tale has an epilogue in which the already married princess (who’s also a mother of two) has to deal with her jealous part ogre mother-in-law. She demands to have the wife and kids cooked and eaten but the cook hides them and serves animals instead. The queen proceeds to prepare a big pot of nasty venomous creatures to kill them but the prince arrives just in time, the queen falls into the pot and everyone lives happily ever after. In the Grimm version, this was a separate story called “The Mother-In-Law” in which the queen is just put to death. Also, in the Perrault version, the king and queen simply abandon the princess as soon as the fairy is done putting everyone else to sleep for 100 years and the princess doesn’t age a bit. Oh, and she wakes up when the prince merely enters her chamber when the 100 years are up averting the whole sexual assault thing.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Please don't eat that apple.

Please don’t eat that apple.

How You Know It: A queen wishes for a child with rose red lips, snow white skin, and ebony black hair. She gets her wish but promptly dies soon after Snow White’s birth and is replaced by a beauty obsessed wicked stepmother. She’s so obsessed with her own looks that she asks the mirror every day, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Of course, the mirror always says she is until one day it says that Snow White is which sends the queen into plotting her assassination. She orders a huntsman to do the deed and cut out her heart as a royal trophy. The huntsman is unable to do this so he lets Snow White go (and brings a pig’s heart to the queen instead). After some time in the woods Snow White falls with a bunch of dwarfs who let her stay as long as she does the housework. But the queen is undeterred so she disguises herself as a peddler and tries to kill her via poison apple. Snow White eats it and drops to the floor. When the dwarfs find her, they assume she’s dead and put her in a glass coffin where they keep watch. Soon a prince arrives and revives her with a kiss and they live happily ever after.

The Original Version: The Grimm version is the most familiar to us, yet the queen tries to kill Snow White in more ways than in the Disney movie. In the Grimm version, the queen asks the huntsman to bring Snow White’s heart to her so she could eat it yet the guy gives her pig parts instead. And when disguised as a peddler, she not only tries poison apple as an assassination method, but also tight corset lacing and poison comb. Snow White falls unconscious from these but the dwarves manage to revive her. The poison apple was just the only method that seemed to stick. Oh, and the wicked queen dies at her stepdaughter’s wedding where she is forced to dance to death in red hot shoes. Not only that, but the Grimm retelling was the first version of the tale to have the wicked queen as Snow White’s stepmother. In earlier versions, she’s her biological mother and took her daughter to pick flowers in the woods and abandons her.

Snow White doing housework for the seven dwarfs.

Snow White doing housework for the seven dwarfs.

As for Snow White, during most of the story’s action she is about seven years old and the prince doesn’t kiss her back to life. Rather he takes her home (despite thinking her dead) but on the way, the coffin is jolted and Snow White is revived after the bits of poison apple are dislodged from her throat. Also, when she stumbles at the dwarves’ home, her first idea doesn’t pertain to clean up after them. Rather, she eats their food, drinks their wine, and sleeps in their beds. When the dwarves come home, their place is a mess. There are also other cultural variants of Snow White as well including an Albanian one where she kills her stepmother and lives with 40 dragons.

Three Billy Goats Gruff

Looks like the troll messed with the wrong goat this time.

Looks like the troll messed with the wrong goat this time.

How You Know It: Three Billy goat brothers attempt to cross a bridge for greener pastures but has a bad tempered troll living under it. The youngest two go first but they shiver in the troll’s presence and only get off by saying that their brother would make a better dish than them. When the oldest brother ventures, he trounces the troll and throws him off the bridge so he and his brothers could cross it and eat the grass from the other side.

The Original Version: This is derived from a Norwegian folk tale compiled by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe.

The Three Little Pigs

Third little pig working on his brick house while his brothers have a good time. Boy will they pay for it later.

Third little pig working on his brick house while his brothers have a good time. Boy will they pay for it later.

How You Know It: Three pigs move out of their mom’s house to find their fortune and all build places of their own. Soon the Big Bad Wolf comes on the scene with intentions to eat them and due to the first two pigs’ poor choice of building materials, their houses are burned down. Yet, when he gets to the third pig’s brick house, he tries to blow it down but couldn’t so he tries to get access through the chimney but the third pig thwarts him.

The Original Version: This story was written in the 1840s and unlike most adaptations, the wolf actually eats the first two little pigs. Also, the Big Bad Wolf is cooked to death in a pot of boiling water, thanks to the third pig.

The Fisherman and His Wife

Fisherman about to ask a favor from a fish on behalf of his wife. Notice the castle in the background.

Fisherman about to ask a favor from a fish on behalf of his wife. Notice the castle in the background.

How You Know It: Poor fisherman captures a magic fish and lets it go. When he tells his wife, she suggested asking the fish for a wish such as a nice house. The wife becomes ever more greedy and wishes for more and more things until the ticked off fish eventually reduces them to the same life the fisherman and his wife had before.

The Original Version: While most adaptations use his tale about how money can’t buy happiness and such, the original tale Grimm version has the fish grant the fisherman’s wife such wishes to be queen, empress, and even pope. Yet, the fish has enough when she asks to be equal to God and thus revokes everything granted.

The Little Mermaid

Sorry, Mermaid, but this isn't Disney. Your prince ain't going for you this time.

Sorry, Mermaid, but this isn’t Disney. Your prince ain’t going for you this time.

How You Know It: Mermaid falls in love with a human prince she rescued and exchanges her voice for plastic surgery from the sea witch. She and the prince get together and after some rough patches end up happily ever after.

The Original Version: Unfortunately, the Hans Christen Andersen version isn’t as happy as the Disney movie. For one, the mermaid doesn’t just exchange her voice for legs (by having her tongue cut out), but she also finds it painful to walk. If she could make the prince fall in love and marry her, she could be a full fledge human all her life. Yet, if the prince marries someone else, she would die. Also, the sea witch is a rather neutral character in this and her motives are simply payment. Though the prince may be charmed by the mermaid and takes her in, he ends up with someone else. While her sisters give the mermaid a knife to kill the prince, she can’t bring herself to do so and dies dissolving in froth.

The Girl Without Hands

Looks like dismemberment is the only way you can please the devil this time.

Looks like dismemberment is the only way you can please the devil this time.

How You Know It: Devil offers poor man wealth if he gives him whatever is standing behind his mill. Poor man thinks it’s an apple tree, but it’s actually his daughter. Devil tries to take girl but can’t because she’s so pure so he threatens to take her dad unless she allows him to chop off her own hands. She agrees and father does so. Oh, and there’s a bit about receiving silver replacements, marrying a king, and giving birth to an alleged changeling caused by a miscommunication, as well as regaining the hands she lost after the king found her seven years later.

The Original Version: In earlier variants the young girl chops off her arms to make herself ugly to her brother who’s trying to rape her. In another, the dad chops off the daughter’s hands because she refuses to have sex with him.

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Original Fairy Tales Part 1

Once upon a time, there were stories known as fairy tales with roots in the folk tradition as well as told to generations. They were usually told in a more spare and laconic style with characters defined by their actions and their motives described as short and simple. Almost every culture around the world has them and have widespread variants yet only a handful are known today. Still, while the notion of “fairy tale” means an idealized romance or ending, many of the classic tales we’re told as a child are much darker than what many people realize and wouldn’t be seen as Disney material. Yet, without further adieu, here I will discuss some of the older versions of the stories you all know and love (though this will take a series).

Aladdin

arabian_deliver_me

Aladdin and the Genie of the Ring.

How you know it: Middle Eastern orphaned homeless bum with a heart of gold but dreaming of riches is manipulated by an evil Grand Vizier into retrieving a magical lamp in a cave. With the Genie’s help and three wishes, he defeats the evil vizier, wins the heart of a princess, and finds relative security.

The Original Version: Contrary to the Disney movie and other popular adaptations, Aladdin and most of the characters in the original story was supposed to be Chinese. Yet, this can be forgiven since the story’s setting is completely Islamic anyway and doesn’t seem to bear any resemblance to China. Still, this tale wasn’t included in The One Thousand and One Nights or in any other documented source until the 1710 French translation by Antoine Gallard who claimed to have heard it from a Syrian storyteller but many speculate that he made the whole story up since there’s no hard evidence on that claim either (same goes for Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves).

Aladdin and the Genie.

Aladdin and the Genie of the Ring in the cave.

Not only that, but by the time the story takes place, Aladdin’s mother is still alive while his dad died of disappointment when Aladdin preferred being a juvenile delinquent to following his old man in the tailoring business. Nor is he homeless since he still lives with his mom as well who is the first to rub the magical lamp that releases the lamp Genie. Not to mention, he could ask the lamp Genie for an unlimited number of wishes and gets the Sultan’s blessing to marry the princess once he sees the extent of Aladdin’s bank account, granted by the Genie. He also marries the princess early on though he has the Genie kidnap her from her fiancé as well as torment them both every night until they conclude their marriage is cursed and split up where Aladdin then swoops in and romances her. How romantic! Not to mention, he has his own palace before the lamp is stolen. Oh, and Aladdin not just has a magic lamp but also a magic ring he uses to release another Genie who gets him out of the cave as well as transport him to his palace, free his wife, beat the bad guys, and gets his lamp back. Yeah, there are two genies in the original story but the Ring Genie is the main one while the lamp Genie is far more powerful. Oh, and the Magic Ring and Magic Lamp also helped inspire the Green Lantern.

Aladdin and Ring Genie save the day.

Aladdin and Ring Genie save the day.

As for the Grand Vizier in the original story, he’s more of an obstructive jerk politician than a devious villain but like the Disney version he does want to get rid of Aladdin yet more because he wants his own son to marry the princess (not himself and he’s justified as well). And he tries to do so by stating that Aladdin’s riches and the incredible things he could do must’ve been the result of black magic. The sultan just writes him off for being a sour puss over his own son being passed for Aladdin. Oh, and the Grand Vizier isn’t even the main villain of the original story nor does he steal Aladdin’s lamp. That honor belongs to the evil Moroccan sorcerer named Maghreb who manipulates Aladdin into entering the cave to retrieve the lamp (though we don’t know why he was the only one to enter it. Oh, and he tricks him by saying that he’s his long lost uncle on his dad’s side). He also steals the lamp by simply tricking Aladdin’s wife in to trading the old lamp for a new one and she didn’t know that her husband’s lamp contained a very powerful Genie. He then proceeds to wish for Aladdin’s palace and wife to be moved into his possession. Oh, he has a more evil brother who kills an old woman and dresses in in her clothes but he’s vanquished from the Lamp Genie. Not only that, but Aladdin had to drug the evil sorcerer to get his lamp back.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Morgiana uses boiling oil on in the jugs hiding the thieves. Poor thieves.

Morgiana uses boiling oil on in the jugs hiding the thieves. Poor thieves.

How You Know It: Wood cutter stumbles onto a cave containing a thieving gang’s treasure stash that is opened by saying the magic words “Open Sesame.” He takes some treasure and becomes rich. Later his brother hears about it, makes his way in the cave but is murdered by the robbers due to his greed and short term memory problems. Ali Baba finds his dead brother, retrieves his body, and the thieves go after Ali Baba, too. Yet, they are repeatedly foiled by him and his friends while all the thieves are defeated. Thus, Ali Baba and his associates live happily ever after.

The Original Version: Like Aladdin, this wasn’t included in the original One Thousand and One Nights and in any other documentation before Antoine Gallard’s 1710 translation, and it’s likely he made this one up, too. Oh, and you had to use “Shut Sesame” to close the cave before you left as well. Also, in the beginning of the story, Ali Baba is an older man with at least adult son and he’s only the main character until after he retrieves his brother’s dead body which was cut up into quarters and hung up at the cave entrance to warn others. The hero in the later part of the story is actually his young slave girl named Morgiana (who’s sometimes seen as his wife in some adaptations even if she wasn’t in the original) who stitches Ali’s brother back together for the funeral as well as thwarts the thieves who try to infiltrate Ali Baba’s house by filling up the large jugs containing the other thieves with hot boiling oil. Still, at least she gets rewarded in the end by marrying Ali Baba’s adult son (which earns her freedom in the process) while Ali ends up with his widowed sister-in-law.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and Beast. Notice the creative license on the beast.

Beauty and Beast. Notice the creative license on the beast.

How You Know It: An ordinary village girl ventures to a mysterious castle (owned by a menacing beast cursed with his form by ignoring an old beggar woman) where her dad is found trapped in after seeking shelter from a winter storm. Girl agrees to be the Beast’s hostage in her dad’s place. While there she finds the Beast develops a romantic attachment to the girl and doesn’t seem so bad as she grows fond of him. One day she asks the Beast to go home to see her sick dad, and he reluctantly agrees but is hampered by people who want to keep her and the Beast apart. Meanwhile the Beast almost loses the will to live before the girl comes back and says she loves him which breaks the spell and turns him into a handsome prince.

The Original Version: There are actually two literary versions of the tale I’ll get into from the 18th century with both of them written by French women as propaganda piece for girls to accept arranged marriages. Of course, since this tale has outlived the practice, its meanings are far more romanticized in later adaptations. The 1740 version was by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve and this story is a sprawling and convoluted story filled with contrived coincidences and last minute exposition in which both Beauty and Beast were revealed to be double first cousins, half-fairy (on their mother’s side), and royalty (on their father’s side). It also includes a love triangle in which Beauty is conflicted between the Beast and the handsome prince before finding out that they’re the same person. Also, she has twelve siblings.

Beast as bear proposing the Beauty by going down on one knee.

Beast as bear proposing the Beauty by going down on one knee.

The second version was written in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont which is moderately close to the Disney version. Yet, there are differences in this version. For one, the heroine was literally named Beauty instead of Belle but since the story takes place in France, this wasn’t much of a change. Still, in Beaumont’s version, her dad is a rich merchant falling on hard times who was on his way home after a trading scheme gone wrong. She also has two materialistic scheming sisters who are the main villains instead of a jealous suitor. Oh, and the two sisters try to keep Beauty home longer than a week after she comes back from the castle simply out of jealousy of her good looks and how well she bears under her various misfortunes as well as conspire to try to get her eaten alive. Yet, they get punished by being turned into stone statues. Not to mention, Beauty volunteers to stay at the Beast’s castle after her dad returns home.

As for the Beast, while unlike in the Disney version, he’s actually nice to Beauty from the very beginning in the Beaumont version, despite threatening to kill her dad. And his house isn’t a bad place either, which includes a garden and everything. Oh, and he keeps asking Beauty to marry him even though she keeps saying no like every night. Yet, she does agree to do so when she realized that the Beast is a kind and caring man which breaks the spell.

Cinderella

Fairy Godmother making pumpkin into coach.

Fairy Godmother making pumpkin into coach.

How You Know It: Young noblewoman’s mother dies and father remarries a total bitch with at least two equally bitchy daughters of her own, then disappears (either he dies or is an absent parent to his daughter). The girl’s new stepfamily turns out to be vindictively cruel and makes her work as a servant just for kicks earning her nickname “Cinderella.” When the local prince holds a kingdom wide ball, the they refuse to let her attend. Yet, Cinderella calls on a spirit helper which could be her fairy godmother or a representative of her dead mom who takes pity and prepares her for the ball in which she manages to outshine almost every girl there and win the prince’s heart. However, the spirit’s help comes with a cache is that Cinderella must return by midnight yet when the time comes she rushes off and leaves her slipper at the castle. The prince tracks her down the next day through the lost slipper and once reunited they marry and live happily ever after.

The Original Version: This is a very old story with a lot of renditions, including a traditional Irish version with a guy with big feet named Cinderellis who steals a giant’s shoes. Of course, the most familiar version of Cinderella complete with glass slippers, fairy godmothers, pumpkin coaches, and such was written by a 17th century French guy named Charles Perrault (yet his story has two balls and a less bitchy stepsister while most modern versions have one and the stepsisters have no characterization). The earliest version from Ancient Greece written before the birth of Christ in which Cinderella is a Greek girl named Rhodopis kidnapped and sold into slavery in Egypt and is subject to constant harassment by her co-workers because of her lighter skin tone, sings and dances with her animal friends, has her old master give her red golden slippers, and manages to win the Pharaoh’s heart by having the god Horus steal one of them and drop on the king’s lap. And yes, though Rhodopis doesn’t attend the celebration the Pharaoh makes a decree that all maidens have to try on the slipper and the one whose foot fits would be his Queen. When he arrives at Rhodopis’ place she shows him the other slipper and they live happily ever after. Think of it as Cinderella meets Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat but much less realistic (I mean there’s no way in hell a Greek slave girl could become Queen of Egypt, more like a Pharaoh’s concubine at best). Yet, this version may have very well been based on a true story by Aesop of a Thracian courtesan from the 6th century BCE.

Cinderella rushing to leave around midnight.

Cinderella rushing to leave around midnight.

There’s even a Chinese version from the 9th century in which Cinderella is named Ye Xian and is the daughter of a bigamous scholar so this means her stepmother’s daughter is her half-sister. Of course, her parents die from plague but her mother is reincarnated into a fish to watch over her little girl in a nearby lake (you could tell that some Buddhist wrote this one). When her stepmother learns of this, she has the fish captured and served to herself and daughter. Ye Xian collects the leftover bones and is told by the spirit to place them on the foot of her bed and her desires would be granted if she requests them of the bones. At the beginning of the Spring Festival, Ye Xian’s stepmother tells her to stay and clean as a spirit tells her to where to find clothes to wear to the event. She enjoys herself at the festival until she rushes home to avoid her stepmother’s detection yet, she leaves a golden slipper behind (notice that the slippers aren’t always glass). The slipper is discovered by a king who resolves to trace the owner’s identity and when he does, he takes Ye Xian as his wife to her joy while the vindictive stepmother and half-sister are crushed to death by an earthquake.

The glass slipper fits.

Of course, I couldn’t do a post on the original Cinderella without talking about the famous Grimm Brothers’ version, which contrary to popular belief isn’t the oldest version (since I said this story has been around before Jesus). It’s actually very much the same as most versions except that there are three balls, she is helped by a tree at her mom’s grave and a couple of doves, and what happens after Cinderella leaves her slipper behind. Let’s just say when the prince comes to her house, the stepsisters try to fit in the slipper by mutilating their feet hoping to fool him. Oh, and once Cinderella is whisked away by her prince, the stepsisters have their eyes plucked out by birds and are forced to live their lives as beggars. Of course, there are even some versions in which Cinderella kills her stepmother, one of them so her dad could marry a servant instead. Oh, and the said servant had a lot of kids, to boot.

The Elves and the Shoemaker

Watching the elves tinker with their overnight shift.

Watching the elves tinker with their overnight shift.

How You Know It: A poor struggling cobbler wakes up to find shoes he planned to create the next morning already made which leads better sales. One day he discovers a few elves carrying on in his workshop and decides to do something to thank them. Prosperity follows.

The Original Version: Unlike many adaptations, there were only two elves in the Grimm version and to show his gratitude, the cobbler decides to make clothes for them. The elves don’t come again but they ushered a new era of business for him. Still, the process of giving clothes to free house-elves in Harry Potter, comes from this tale. Oh, and the cobbler discovered the elves working in his shop on Christmas, which is another reference elves making stuff around the holiday.

The Frog Prince

Frog fetches golden ball for princess.

Frog fetches golden ball for princess.

How You Know It: Princess loses golden ball down a well and a nearby frog offers to retrieve it for her in exchange for a kiss. She agrees and they live happily ever after.

The Original Version: In the Pre-Grimm Brothers’ version there was more than one girl who encountered the frog but it was only the last one who kept her promise to marry him. In the Grimm version, there is just one. Still, the Grimm version doesn’t have the frog ask the princess to kiss him. Rather, he demanded that she kept him near her as a pet, share her food and drink with him as well as sleep on her bed (cue the sexual overtones here). She is repulsed but reluctantly agrees though she goes home without him after she gets her ball back. The frog turns up at the castle and has the king take his side. At first, it’s no problem but come nighttime, the princess refused to let the frog sleep on her pillow and angrily threw him against the wall (once again, cue the sexual symbolism, though in some early versions he’s either burnt or decapitated). To her shock, she finds the frog transformed into a handsome prince, they fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after. Oh, and during this whole time the frog prince’s servant Henry had his heart bound with iron straps to keep it from breaking while he was enchanted, which break in the end.

The Gingerbread Man

Fox eats the Gingerbread Man.

Fox eats the Gingerbread Man.

How You Know It: A magical anthropomorphic gingerbread man comes to life out of the oven and runs away from the old couple who baked him. They chase him and fail to catch him and the Gingerbread Man outruns several farm workers and animals taunting them with the phrase “Run, run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me! I’m the Gingerbread Man!” Ends when the fox tricks the Gingerbread Man and eats him.

The Original Version: Actually not an old fairy tale but first appeared in an 1875 issue of St. Nicholas magazine. Yet, this was called The Gingerbread Boy. Still, despite the ending, the Gingerbread Man continues to make appearances in the Shrek movies.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Somebody's been sleeping and my bed and there she is.

Somebody’s been sleeping and my bed and there she is.

How You Know It: A young blonde juvenile delinquent breaks into the residence of three anthropomorphic bears who were away but forgot to lock the door. Goldilocks proceeds to eat their food, sit on their furniture (destroying a chair in the process), and sleep in their beds. The bears return, see evidence of the break in, and chase Goldilocks out of Baby Bear’s bed when they find her.

The Original Version: This tale has evolved over the years. The original tale of the Three Bears, the bear family lived in a castle and the intruder was a vixen (like a female fox) named Scrapefoot. 19th Century English writer Robert Southey was the first person to publish the tale that he heard as a child yet he accidently thought that the intruder was the wrong kind of vixen who, in turn got changed into a lawless old woman who after not being invited around the bears’ place, decides to go see for herself. She falls out the window and is never seen again but it’s hinted that her fate isn’t good. Oh, and Southey’s three bears are actually all adult males sharing a house in the woods together named, “a Little, Small, Wee Bear, a Middle-sized Bear, and a Great, Huge Bear.” Goldilocks as we know her turned up twelve years later in Joseph Cundalls version just to stop the confusion with other old ladies in other fairy tales but she was called Silverhair for a long time. Also, she wasn’t the only little girl in the tale. Not to mention, the bears were changed into a family in Cundall’s tale since who knows what three bachelor bears living together would be up to.

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel eating the witch's candy gingerbread house. Of course, the witch doesn't mind but for different reasons.

Hansel and Gretel eating the witch’s candy gingerbread house. Of course, the witch doesn’t mind but for different reasons.

How You Know It: Two kids are kicked out by their dad and stepmother and are forced to survive in the woods by themselves making a trail of breadcrumbs so they could come back (but the birds eat them). One day, they stumble onto a gingerbread house in the woods owned by a witch who is initially nice to them but they later find out that she wants to eat them and Hansel finds out he’d be dinner the next morning while Gretel is a servant. The witch asks Gretel to light the oven, she pretends she can’t. Yet, when the witch bends over, Gretel kicks her in the oven, rescues Hansel, and the two live happily ever after.

The Original Version: This tale may have originated during the Middle Ages at the time of the Great Famine of 1315-1317, when people were driven to desperate measures. Kids were abandoned to fend for themselves and there were many incidences of cannibalism. In the original Grimm version from 1812, the woman who drives Hansel and Gretel out was their biological mother and the father also shared the blame for abandoning the kids. There’s an earlier French version called “The Lost Children” where the main villain is the devil and his wife. Now the devil is tricked by the children in much the same way as Hansel and Gretel but the devil works it out and makes a sawhorse to put one of the kids on to bleed. The children feign ignorance on how to get on so the devil’s wife demonstrates (and she tried to help them earlier). When she is lying down helpless, the kids slash her throat, steal the devil’s money, and run off.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack chopping down the beanstalk and sending the giant to his death. Hope his house and mother don't get smashed.

Jack chopping down the beanstalk and sending the giant to his death. Hope his house and mother don’t get smashed.

How You Know It: Poor guy sells the family cow for some magic beans to his mom’s dismay so she throws them out the window. Overnight the beans grow into a massive beanstalk that reaches up to the clouds. Jack climbs the beanstalk and finds a massive castle owned by a giant once he reaches the top that says, ”Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he live or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” Jack makes a few trips the next few days and with the help of the giant’s wife, manages to bag the giant’s gold, the goose that lays the golden eggs, and the magic golden harp. Soon the giant chases him down the beanstalk yet Jack manages to reach the bottom first, grabs the ax, and kills the giant.

The Original Version: The oldest commonly known version was collected by Joseph Jacobs around the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Yet, this story seems to be an amalgamation of many giant killing stories such as “Jack the Giant Killer” (which has roots in Arthurian legend but different and more violent plot) and “The Brave Little Tailor.” It also bears striking similarities the Norse myth called “The Thief of Idunn” which a trickster travels to a giant’s lofty castle and steals a few magic treasures, only to be found out and chased back home, where the giant meets his doom.