Fairy Tales 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bluebeard Post comment

For some reason I cannot comment on Pharra's post "Bluebeard", so here is my comment.
I also felt like these tales were similar to Beauty and the Beast. One major difference though was that there was no prince charming under the facade of the Beast, but instead a much more horrible beast under the facade of a normal man (minus the unnatural blue in his beard). The beast in these stories really was a beast.

I have to disagree with the last comment though about the leading lady in Bluebeard being stronger than Belle in any sense. Belle did make the decision to live with the Beast without being forced into it because she wanted to be virtuous and keep promises made in order to honor her father. This last wife of Bluebeard's sometimes did not have a choice about the marriage and when she did, she only acquiesced based on his wealth. Also, she took the time to be obedient and get to know him and fall in love with the Beast, instead of immediately doing something to disobey and build mistrust with her husband and then encourage his death. I believe Belle was the stronger female in these stories.

Also in contrast, the B&B stories focus on the love between them growing while in the Bluebeard stories the focus is on mistrust and murder. I know that I have focused on the differences, but I believe there are many more similarities between the stories than differences. I am curious about how closely their tale types are related.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Missing Something...?

I feel as though all of the criticisms of the Bluebeard stories we have read and the other blog postings that I have seen have focused on the discussion of the wife's curiosity and the consequences of that. This has been amusing to me because it seems that the fact that he is a serial killer, a black widower. Why is it so bad that the wife opens a door, and not so much that he kills at least seven women. Is it just a result of the significance of men being elevated higher in society, or something else?

One thing that occurred to me was that it has often been revealed through interviews with other psycho paths (modern day Bluebeards)the thrill of the chase, the excitement of predator and prey, the building of fear in their victims to raise the interest they have in murdering people. If Bluebeard really did not want her to go into the room, he didn't need to give her the separate key that went to that room (unlike in the beauty and the beast story where the father gave his daughters a key that went to all the rooms in the castle and told them not to go into one, Bluebeard has to give her a separate key for the room. He is bloodthirsty and clearly enjoys killing his victims, so I believe that he had the intention to kill her eventually whether she opened the door then or not, but by giving her the key, he knew he was making the option irresistible and that she would open the door and be horrified (which heightens the thrill of her murder for him).

He is crazy in a very bad way and he is a serial murderer; she just opens a door and through gaining this knowledge saves her life. Why is she the bad guy in this story?! I just feel that the past critics and our class is missing something...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


While reading this version of Bluebeard, I couldn't help but notice a lot of similarities to Beauty and the Beast. We have the odd man-freak who frightens the entire town, the woman that is with him even though she doesn't really want to be with him, and the secret, which does vary in the Beauty & the Beast stories. Both Bluebeard and Beauty & the Beast tend to focus on the heroics of the woman involved. B&B shows a reformation of the Beast by Beauty while Bluebeard shows a woman who kills her gruesome husband.

Another thing I noticed about the Bluebeard tales is that they tend to be more gruesome than many of the other stories that we've read. This series often focuses on the horrible deaths of the former lovers of Bluebeard and how he killed them. In my opinion, this series is the least "family-friendly" series since it is so violent and particularly descriptive. I think it is definitely on a different level than the rest of the fairy tales because of its mature content. Out of all of the different collections/themes that we've studied so far, this series is the one that was newest to me, but I know that it's most likely because of the maturity level of it that I was never introduced to it as a child.

The Grimm's Bluebeard

This version of the story includes alot of subtext. The Grimm brothers probably wrestled with the subject matter of this tale. It is included in the "Omitted Tales" section of our book.
The character of Bluebeard seems to be nothing less than psychotic. I relate him to a fairy-tale equivalent of the Jigsaw killer from the Saw films. Basically, Bluebeard has a need to kill. Above that need, though, is the need for rationalization. He knows that temptation is quite hard to resist. He sets up a trap for his wives just to remove the finality of the burden from himself. He thinks that their actions dictate their death. Outside of the fairy tale world where women without morals should be killed, Bluebeard would perhaps project his "beard" issues in some other way. The fact that his appearance--an unnatural occurrence that is seemingly out of his control--dictates his action makes the wife's rescue in the end feasible. I feel that Bluebeard is the world's originator of entrapment.

George Méliès’s Barbe Bleu

The story that struck me most was George Méliès’s Barbe Bleu silent movie version from 1901 - especially the details that were added to give the plot an orientation about classic values and morals. In some way it’s more like a Disney or softened version of the original. Not only is it not the wife’s fault any more that she’s opening the door but she’s influenced by a devilish creature. On the other hand we have a good fairy that tries to help the wife out of the situation and supports her. By the invention of those two characters, the question of what is good and what is bad is suddenly raised. In the original, we just have a plot and the issue weather the actions are right or wrong is not addressed at all. In the movie version on the other hand, we can see that not listening to your husband is a bad thing and that in order to be a good wife you should follow your husband’s commands.

On the other way the invention of the devil also takes away the wife’s responsibility of her own destiny. It’s not her fault anymore and she does not really have a choice about what she’s doing as the devil is influencing her. Taking this a little bit further, one could get the impression that this movie suggests that women do not really have a choice, but that their curiosity is part of their nature imposed by the devil and that they therefore cannot be trusted. It is obvious that the devil part has a much bigger influence on the woman than the good fairy. Thus, the moral message of this scene for the husband can be interpreted as don’t give too much responsibility to your wife as this is going to destroy your relationship. It somehow reflects the classical Victorian ideal of the husband being the leader of the household and the wife being his servant that does not have any authority at all.

Bluebeard and Gender Consequence

Curiosity is a theme that has reappeared in several fairytales that we have read this semester.

But I find the gender constructs surrounding curious characters troublesome. This is because in general, women are punished for their curiosity and men are praised for it. Curious women suffer consequences for their interest in the unknown and curious men are rewarded for their journey into the forbidden.

Perrault’s Bluebeard repeats this theme of female punishment for curiosity. It seems to me that fairytales have a way with internalizing what is appropriate behavior for women and men. And if the story of Bluebeard is to teach women anything, it is that they must learn to control their curiosity.

Aside from providing women with a model of behavior, the story of Bluebeard diminishes women by portraying them as beings without willpower, and dependants on the men in their lives for saving (in this case, her brothers). This subjugation of women is the norm in Perrault’s stories and this influenced his 17th century audiences and these structures, reinforced by fairytales such as Bluebeard, continue to influence gender understandings today.

Fairy Tale vs. Horror

From monday's discussion, the focus seemed to be on the fact that Bluebeard has this horror aspect and is not in sync with many of the elements that we see in other fairy tales. Unlike most fairy tales, Perrault's version starts with a marriage and ends with a happy family. This is uncharacteristic of most fairy tales and is important to note when discussing the differences that the Bluebeard story holds. There is criticism on marriage stability and the fact that women are disobedient. Also, the man is allowed to hide his past, or at least until the woman is disobedient and "nosy." These elements are too harsh and pointed at specific criticisms to be present in the traditional form of fairy tale. These aspects play into the fact that there is much horror in the story that is meant to stop analysis and stun the reader.

Comparing these aspects to the film by Melies adds an interesting dimension to the story. Melies incorporates magic and mysticism into a story that before hand was a seemingly dark counterpart to other fairy tales. He adds in nightmares, fairies, and creatures that allow for the story to take a whole new perspective. From these additions, he also creates a transition to a new ending. The story does not end in horror but the wives live happily after which creates a sense of the fairy tale feeling.