Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Different Colors of "Blue Beard"

            The three different versions of the story of "Bluebeard" ultimately follow the same plot with a few unique twists here and there.  Both the Grimm tales, "The Robber Bridegroom" and "Fitcher's Bird", as well as Perrault's "Blue Beard" contain only one single element of magic: the key that remains blood-stained.  There is most definitely a magic ingredient acting here as the blood from the key should be able to be wiped from its surface, but beings as it cannot be removed, it is clear that magic is at work.  In all three of the stories, many of the symbols and characters are also very similar.  The magical key represents temptation before it is soiled, and disobedience after it has become dyed with blood.  The presence of the locked room that the Blue Beard character forbids his wife to enter likewise represents the temptation as it is the ultimate test of whether or not she can heed his order to not enter, despite her having the power to do so with the key.  Also, in the three versions, there is a character presence that represents security and protection as the different characters help to save the wife from her death.  In conclusion, all versions contain murder and exhibit the absolute brutality of men.  Unlike many other fairy tales, these three versions consistently portray marriage as unhappy because the tales start with marriage, but end with execution. 

            In discussing some of the differences between the three versions, it is interesting to note how the wife is chosen.  In "Blue Beard", a rich lady who lived next to Blue Beard was given the choice of picking which of her daughters would wed their rich, yet frightful neighbor.  Although harboring objections at first, the younger daughter eventually willingly enters into a marriage with Blue Beard.  On the other hand, "Fitcher's Bird" reveals a version of Blue Beard which utilizes sorcery to literally kidnap each of a man's three daughters before the youngest daughter uses her cunning to outsmart the sorcerer and prove herself worthy of his marriage.  In "The Robber Bridegroom", a miller marries his daughter off to a man whom he believes to be of the right stature for his daughter.  The daughter in the story is not fond of her father's choice and doesn't trust him from the very beginning.  The deaths of the Blue Beard character also vary slightly throughout the different versions, where the French fairy tale has Blue Beard killed at the hands of the brother's swords, "Fitcher's Bird" details a fiery death of Blue Beard and his guests as she and her relatives manage to lock them all in his house before setting it on fire, and "The Robber Bridegroom" reveals how the Blue Beard character and his buddies are all executed by the magistrate for the crimes they have committed. 

            My favorite of the three versions was definitely "The Robber Bridegroom" because the maiden in the story appeared to be such an innocent, naive character in the beginning, but surprised the reader with her clever plot to recount her adventure in front of all their wedding guests.  The idea to mask it as a dream is very inventive and fascinating.  I also find it very interesting that the power of the narrative is so stressed by this version; after all, the story she told is the very thing that saved her young life. 

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