In seventh grade, I acted in production of “The Golden Goose” at my middle school. I was the King. I didn’t have a name. Nor a character, really. The king was only supposed to be really cranky with anything his daughter said. He also hated Simpleton with a passion. This translated to me furrowing my brow for the 20 or so minutes I was up on stage. That is, until the last scene, in which I give over my daughter to Simpleton. He proved virtuous, so he gets a wife. Standard stuff.
Reading the Golden goose tale makes me see the Simpleton character in a completely different light. I know that we car studying this story in conjunction with other men stories. Simpleton, though, is truly a fool. Not that he has any more sense than any other man in a fairy tale, but he is especially stupid by comparison to his cleverer brothers. But wait! His stupidity actually gets his somewhere. His cleverer brothers refuse to share their food with a dwarf. Simpleton doesn’t really know how to say no or consider that he is being taken advantage of, so of course his shortsightedness is rewarded. This is really the only proactive thing he does in the story. So, in one sense, maturity can be achieved through one virtuous or selfless act. Simpleton is already thinking about marriage, so its not physical maturity that he requires. Manhood is simply a state of mind that is somewhat given by a wiser more virtuous man.