Friday, May 7, 2010

Fairy Tale Fridays: The Three Bears

Special Thanks to my Personal Faery Friend for the Button Art: Ye Olde Faery Shoppe

The Three Bears by Robert Southey is better known today as Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Southey's version is the first to have appeared in print (1837) and appears to be the inspiration for today's more mainstream tale.  However, instead of the sweet and innocent Goldilocks, the perpetrator is actually a little old woman with crime on the mind!  For example, check out these quotes from Southey's tale . . .
She could not have been a good, honest old Woman; for first she looked in at the window, and then she peeped in at the key-hole; and seeing nobody in the house, she lifted the latch.
If she had been a good little old Woman, she would have waited till the Bears came home, and then, perhaps, they would have asked her to breakfast; for they were good Bears - a little rough or so, as the manner of Bears is, but for all that very good-natured and hospitable.  But she was an impudent, bad old Woman, and set about helping herself.
And then she went to the porridge of the Little, Small, Wee Bear and tasted that; and that was neither too hot or too cold, but just right; and she liked it so well she ate it all up; but the naughty old Woman said a bad work about the porridge-pot, because it did not hold enough for her.

As I was reading this story, it really became more clear to me more than in any of the other stories we have read so far about how these tales were often written or passed down orally for the adult crowd.  It has only been more recently, through Disney, cartoons, illustrators, etc. that the stories have been adapted for the younger crowd!  The old Woman is changed to a sweet and innocent child who doesn't know any better.  A hungry, tired child that gets lost in the woods is more likable than an old lady who knows better and with criminal activity on the mind!

In the case of this story, I believe I like the newer versions better!  However, with either version, John Connolly hits the target with his comment,
Goldilocks came to a bad end, as befits an amateur burglar and food thief who makes the mistake of falling asleep in a household of bears.
Whether you believe Goldilocks (or the old Woman) truly came to a "bad end" or not, Connolly's blunt summary makes a little bit of sense!  I will be keeping this summary and my own version of a moral in mind . . . Bears - domesticated or not - will be bears!

Which version did you read this week?  Do you have any morals you would like to share?

Friday, May 14th:  The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Traditional Tale)
Friday, May 21st:  The Philosopher's Stone by Hans Christian Andersen
Friday, May 28th:  The Twelve Brothers by The Brothers Grimm
Friday, June 4th:  Strega Nona by Tomie dePaolo



  1. We always seem to have similar comments.

    I love Tomie dePaolo by the way!

  2. I haven't read many original versions of old fairy tales, but I do remember hearing that they were darker and scarier than the modern versions. I think I'd prefer dark & scary over Disneyfied versions, because Disney is too stuck on the Happily Ever After ending.

    Really enjoy these posts, even though I don't comment every week!

  3. Jasper Fforde's second Nursery Crimes book has a big Goldilocks plot line in it and it's quite an interesting take on it.

  4. carolsnotebook . . . I haven't been over to read your's yet, but I'm on my way!! And, I love dePaolo too!! :)

    Alexia561 . . . I'm glad to hear that you read every week and enjoy!!! It's been fun to read some originals. I think you would like some of them, but I will be honest when I say that some of them are really rather odd too!! :) Feel free to join in if you ever feel the need!! We would love to have you!!

    Kristen M. . . . I have never read any Fforde!!! I have always been tempted to, even look at some books, but then simply set them down. I think you have just sold me to finally just pick one up! In fact, I even marked a recent post on your site of one of his books to add to my wish list!! Do you have suggestions on which one to start with?

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  6. I just said it on my blog but I definitely think that starting with The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear (first and second books in the Nursery Crimes series) would fit right in with your fairy tales focus right now. They bring nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters into the modern world and it's pretty fun!

  7. Kristen M. . . . I'm definitely going to be checking these out! Thanks!!


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