Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 12: English Fairy Tales (Jacobs)

These were my favorites from the English Fairy Tales (Jacobs) unit.

The Rose-Tree. Yes, this story is totally creepy, but I still love it. It was so surprising to see the horrible violence that happens (seriously horrible violence: the stepmother chops the girl's head off and then serves her for supper), and the way a tiny little bird was able to bring about rewards and punishments afterwards was so dramatic. The idea that a little bird could carry a millstone to drop on the evil stepmother to kill her was pretty amazing.

The Old Woman and Her Pig. Okay, true confession, I LOVE STORIES like this; I should probably put together a collection of cumulative tales since they show up in storytelling traditions around the world. The old woman's pig won't jump over the stile, so she tries to get the dog to bite the pig, but it won't - then a stick to beat the dog, then fire, then water, ox, butcher, rope, rat, cat and then cow. The cow tells her to get some hay, and when she gives hay to the cow, the cow gives milk, which she takes to the cat, and so the chain works back until the dog bites the pig and it jumps over the stile. I LOVE IT.

Binnorie. Oh wow, I love this one too; it's like the Rose-Tree because it is about supernatural revenge, and this time it is like the dead person comes back even more directly, since the harper makes the harp from her bones and hair. When he plays the harp in court, it sings the song of her murder and denounces her murderer, and then the harp snapped in two. That is just so cool!

Cap O' Rushes. This was one of my very favorite stories when I was little. You can remember the whole story just from the riddle "as fresh meat loves salt." Yes, it's a Cinderella story, but I like the way it is also about how the heroine repairs her relationship with her own family in addition to making a life of her own after she has to leave that family to find her own way.

Molly Whuppie. What a cool story! The plot weaves together so many things I've seen in other stories, but never told in quite this way: Parents abandon their three daughters in the woods. They come to the house of a giant, and his wife lets them in. Molly Whuppie, the youngest, switches the ropes and gold chains so the giant will mix up his daughters and the three girls. The giant kills his own daughters and the girls escape and go to the king. The king tells Molly to go get the giant's sword. She steals the sword and the oldest sister marries a prince, and so again the giant's purse. Finally she gets the ring, tricks the giant into killing his wife, and marries the king's son for herself. Such a great heroine!

Mr Fox. Oh, another story about intense violence and revenge, but this time without anything supernatural, just a very brave woman! I also liked the dramatic way it showed her confronting Mr. Fox at the end. Her brothers are there, yes, but you get a sense of her own boldness and bravery in confronting him:

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