Today we continued last week's discussion of the nuclear family in fairy tales, and the common role of stepmothers and stepsisters cast as villians. We talked alot about this one story, Juniper (also known as the Rose-tree) where a woman kills her stepdaughter, cooks and feeds her to the loving father and brother, and the girl is reincarnated into a bird, who then somehow carries a millstone back to her father's house and drops the stone on her stepmother's head and kills her. Happy stuff. I wonder why Disney didn't cover that one?
Also talked about Cymbeline and The Three Heads in the Well, both of which have ties to Colchester, the town where I live when I'm in England. Colchester used to be the capital of England, long before London, way before the days of King Arthur...there is actually still a roman castle in the town centre- it's quite nice. They have beautiful roses and demonic squirrels that act like they want to share your granola bar, but they really want to tear your face off...back to fairy tales. Story starts off in Colchester where it looks like a recently widowed Kind is about to marry his daughter, the 15 year old princess (like Donkey Skin, this nasty French fairy tale-bleh....so much incest in real Fairy Tales) BUT he instead marries a hag who also has a 15 year old daughter. The hag and her daughter tell the king lies about his daughter and he banishes her from the kingdom with only a bag of hard bread, nasty cheese and some cheap beer (sounds like a college student to me!) and she's on her way! She sees this old man (who is actually a faerie in disguise) and offers to share her moldy cheese and nasty bread and beer with him, and he gives her a magic wand and shows her to a magic well. Three golden heads pop out of this well and demand that she brush their hair and lay them on the ground to dry...so she whips this magical golden comb out of thin air and does just that. They grant her three "weirds" (not wishes) which if you have studied linguistics, Old English and Shakespeare, you have figured out by now that the three "weirds" have come from three "wyrds" which represent the "wyrd sisters" from Hamlet- they were witches. So they "weird" her beauty, a lovely singing voice, and marriage to a wealthy prince (it's like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White all rolled into one) so she goes and snags herself the 14th century version of Prince William even though she has been disowned by her father and is without dowry, all thanks to old hag stepmom. So mini-hag daughter decides to do what her step-sis did and go find her own darn prince, but she screws up every step of the way. She tells the old man who asks her to share her food to bugger off, she beats the three golden heads in with a bottle of sherry and they "weird" her leprocy, a frog-voice and marriage to a cobbler. So then she meets a cobbler who happens to have an ointment for leprocy and is quite deaf and can't hear how terrible she sounds. So they get hitched, go back to the king asking for land or lordship or something and the old hag kills herself out of embarassment. I think she should have fallen into a vat of liquid hot magma, been eaten by wolves or been given leprocy herself, but a nice, respectable suicide will have to work.
So there...a fairy tale that I'm glad Disney overlooked. And now I'm going to tie it all in with knitting in a most amazing way: by showing you my wicked stepsister sock.