Fairy Tales 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Clearly this fairy tale is taking advantage of our suspension of belief. Still, the Juniper Tree still contains some important connections with other tales, especially regarding the rampant problem in fairy tales with child abuse. In “Juniper Tree”, the stepmother slams the lid on the boy’s head and it rolls off, causing her to set his head back on with a kerchief. The mother in “Sweetheart Roland” takes a page out of this storybook and goes to chop off her stepdaughter’s head, but accidentally saws off that of her own daughter. And if this weren’t ghastly enough, the mother in “Juniper Tree” feels the need to feed the boy’s steamed body to his father! This is similar to the attempt of Sanna the old cook to eat Foundling after boiling him into good meat. The Juniper Tree shares a lot of plot characteristics with the other tales, but ultimately all of them end up transformed back into their normal, superior state.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I found the song to be very eerie in the story, and it bothered me that the people that the bird sings the song to seem overtaken by the beauty and ignore the lyrics. No one seems to even hear the lyrics except the stepmother. I think it bothered me because they understand him when he talks but ignore the chilling song lyrics.
I think in these stories we just have to accept that people come back from the dead. Clearly this is not an ordinary bird, as it can carry a lot of weight. Though the stepmother is never specifically called a witch, she seems to act like one, and in fairytales there is always the idea that witch’s magic can be reversed, as the sister in “Brother and Sister” is brought back to life even though the witch killed her. Also, in the Hansel and Gretel movie we watched in class, the eaten children come back to life. It seems as though murder committed by witches is not permanent, and can be reversed by the right actions.
Over 2000 years ago, a boy was born out of his mothers’ blood and the white winter snow that sat beneath a juniper tree. The power of the tree, bodily humors, emotions and/or desires brought the boy into the human world. This formula brings forth the birth and rebirth of the boy two times in the Grimm version of the tale “The Juniper Tree,” first, at the desire and blood of his mother; and secondly, at the desire and weeping of his step- sister, Marlene.
The setting of this tale is at the apogee of Biblical occurrences and the themes present throughout it; such as immaculate conception, and rebirth, suggest to me that although there are times when the boy possesses human qualities, that he is never fully human but is in fact superior to humankind and a god-like figure with zoomorphic qualities that permit him to continue living and exact moral justice on others regardless of whether or not he exists in the human world.
We see the boy; or in this particular instance, the bird, execute his superiority to humankind every time he sings his song. His ability to enchant anyone from goldsmiths, to shoemakers, to mill-stone workers, to even his own family conveys his greatness over mere mortals just as his immaculate conception did, and just as his rebirth at the end of the story does as well.
Though we have witnessed transformations in other stories that we have read, they have not been in the style of complete birth, complete death, complete re-birth in a new form, and transformation to the original form as this tale is. Generally, transformations follow in a sequential and progressive order and are maintained within the same body until the very end when say for example an aesthetically displeasing character is rewarded with handsome features as the case with “Hans My Hedgehog.”
The bird's song is very interesting, not from the actual lyrics or words sung, but by the underlying intentions of the song. I kind of got the idea that the boy (as the bird) was in a purgatory like state and needed to buy his way back to life. He uses his song to entrance the certain individuals (shoemaker, millworker) and to play off of their desires/greed to hear the song again so that the boy can "purchase" material things in order to resurrect himself. Once he has gathered up sufficient things, he uses them to return his soul from the in between stage of life and death, back to life itself