Welcome to Fairy Tale Fridays!
Today we are going to talk about a tale that I have never even heard of before: A Fairy Tale About A Boy Who Left Home to Learn About Fear, or also known as The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear. Why did I choose this one? As I was browsing The Bicentennial Edition of The Annotated Brothers Grimm that I still have checked out from the library, I came across this tale. Since it was previously unknown, I thought I would give it a try.
In this story about a boy, we are introduced to a man with two sons. The firstborn is essentially perfect. He works hard. He is smart. And, he does the right thing at the right time. Unfortunately, the second boy was exactly the opposite. He did not work at all, was referred to as stupid, and never did the right thing. Even when his father asked what he was going to do to earn money and make a living, the boy gave a ridiculous answer ... he was going to "learn how to get the creeps." What?!? Apparently when all the boys were sitting around the campfire telling ghost stories, he never felt fear. He simply didn't understand what could have the other boys shivering and getting "the creeps."
Alas, this boy set off on a journey to discover fear. He was faced with a number of challenges, none of which affected him in any way. Then, in enters the princess! The fearless boy takes on the challenge to stay in a haunted castle for three nights. If he is able to survive, then he will be able to marry the princess. Needless to say, he defeats all that he faces, winning the princess and being set for life ... except for never completing the task he originally set out to complete. Thankfully, his wife was able to take care of that in the final paragraphs of the story!
This tale was simply weird for me. The unnamed boy was exposed to the dead, and he treated them like the living. He didn't blink an eye at mutilated individuals or disappearing guests. Is this really bravery or courage if one cannot feel? If he cannot feel fear, how can he feel remorse? How can an unfeeling man live happily ever after?!? Of course, the ending does indicate that the wife did finally introduce her husband to the feeling of "the creeps" (in a very odd, but almost humorous way). Does this imply that it takes a woman to make a man feel fear? Or, does it mean that a woman brings out the "weaker" characteristics in a man? Or, does it mean that this story is just a crazy tale that has no real message?!? I really don't know, but I do know that it is a disturbing tale -- even more disturbing than characters who are tarred and feathered and put in a barrel of burning hot oil.
If you have not yet read this tale, you can check it out here. (Please note that this version uses different words -- "makes me shudder" vs "gets the creeps"). In fact, I want you to click over right now, read it, then come back and tell me your thoughts on this crazy tale about a boy searching for fear. I really want to chat about this one!
After reading this tale, what do you think? Is it creepy? Is it weird? What lesson or message do you take away from it?