All eight stories by Perrault, all available in a good English translation. Please read:
- “Red Riding-Hood”
- “Sleeping Beauty”
- “Cinderella, Or the Little Glass Slipper”
- “Bluebeard” and
- The other three lesser known stories: “The Fairy,” “Riquet with the Tuft,” “Little Thumb.”
Site: Perrault’s Fairy Tales http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29021/29021-h/29021-h.htm
Questions for the discussion board
- Most students don’t like the abrupt ending to Perrault’s ”Little Red Riding-Hood.” I even had a class take on the project of rewriting the ending, with some interesting results.
Why would Perrault end the story the way he did? Who is the intended audience, and what is his point to them?
Why would the Grimms add the ending of the woodsman and the punishment of the wolf? Who is the intended audience and what is their point with the addition?
- Perrault’s morals are in rhyme. Why would he end each story with a rhyme? How would the moral of the story be different if it were in simple prose? If the original audience for these stories was adult, why does he need them at all?
A protagonist in a story is the leading character in a story, the most prominent one, but not always the hero.
An antagonist is the character who actively opposes the situation or protagonist, usually the villain.
Look over the protagonists in the story and summarize their characteristics—don’t go story by story—summarize.
- Disney used Perrault’s versions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty as a base for his animated versions; Walt once said that his favorite animated moment was the transformation of Cinderella’s rags into a ball gown, and surely that’s a classic moment. But he clearly made changes to the stories, like dropping off the part about mothers-in-law eating the grandchildren.
Why would Disney prefer the Perrault version over the Grimms’ version?
- Why don’t we know these versions of the original stories? What has changed in our preferences for stories, especially for children?
- Once again, we have stories that are cultural gems of a nation—these stories are still taught in French schools, in their original, dated French language.
What are the cultural markers for France in these stories? What makes them French?
Please respond to at least one colleague in the class with a substantial response that shows your agreement/disagreement/questions about their answers to the questions for the lesson.
Please evaluate these websites for inclusion in our textbook:
Charles Perrault’s Mother Goose Tales (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault.html)
What Wide Origins You Have, Little Red Riding Hood!: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/1…
The True Stories behind Classic Fairy Tales (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-ogden/fairy-tale-true-story_b_6102602.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000022&ir=Weird+News)
Extra for Experts
Please remember to document the sources where you found your answers. Please DO ALL THREE PARTS:
1. Research the identity of Gilles de Rais. He is the model for Bluebeard. Find the recipe for Sauce Robert. It was Louis XIV’s favorite sauce for meat. Why do you suppose this sauce was so popular? AND
2. Find out more about who the original Mother Goose might have been. AND
3. Find out about Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles. What principles of architectural and landscape design were used to build Versailles? What does it look like?
The Grimms were collecting stories in the nineteenth century for the purposes of studying and preserving German language. They collected their stories without the benefit of a scientific protocol, without knowledge of how to collect a story without contaminating it. They were inventing the protocol as they went along.
They also felt free to edit stories to make them “better”–that is, more consistent, more literary, more conformable to the morals that they approved of. Sometimes the preservation of the original story was sacrificed in their rewriting. These stories have been edited almost from the beginning, with various editorial biases intruding themselves on the stories.
Lecture Info Below
Perrault’s versions of these stories do appear to have been taken from folk sources, as do the Grimms’ stories. Perrault is the first one to publish the stories we know so well—Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and so forth.
Perrault is the first publisher/collector of folk tales, though the Grimms are likely the best known.
He is writing in the 1690s for the court of Louis XIV, for the courtiers and king, who thought that dressing up as peasants and hearing these stories were great entertainments. He did not think he was writing for children or for simple people, but for the most sophisticated, worldly audience in his society. As you read, keep a list of the details that seem to have been added for an audience that was used to gaudy, decorative, comfortable lives.
Perrault writes to a sophisticated audience that lives at the glittering court at Versailles, where the connection to the folk is remote at best. Note throughout the elegant details and sophisticated responses of various characters. Even the detail about the contents of Little Red’s basket becomes more elegant and understandable, given the audience. The fact that she gets into bed with the wolf is also more understandable, given that the audience was adults. They were also literate, and expected more than simple folk tales, though they thought it was amusing to pretend they were peasants, to go on picnics, and to hear these charming stories.
Perrault is the first person to use the name Mother Goose and attach it to something that became ‘literature for children.’ In the first illustrated versions, the old lady named ‘goose’ seems to have been pictured sitting close a fireplace, working on a spinning wheel while she tells stories. Spinning wool and spinning a yarn or story have been closely associated both in language and in tradition for a long time.
These are love stories–and isn’t that what the French are known for? On the other hand, sometimes love with the wrong person gets one into big trouble. Sexuality is much more evident in these stories than in the Grimm version, not surprising, since sexual intrigue was a major part of life in Louis XIV’s court at Versailles.
These stories become children’s stories in the generation after Louis XIV. Especially when they are translated into English, they become the property of childhood and children. They are still taught in French elementary schools as national treasures of French culture.
Students are usually surprised at Perrault’s stories because they end so differently from how they’re remembered.
Louis XIV’s court at Versailles takes a big political hit in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, where the Lilliputians, the little folks who take the giant Gulliver captive, are the French. There’s a fire at their court and Gulliver puts it out by urinating on it. They immediately banish him because there’s a law at their court that there is no urinating at the Palace–no matter how helpful that urination might be.
And, indeed, there are no bathroom facilities at Versailles–everyone had to go off court grounds to do their business. That’s how artificial the entire court concept was at the time. Only the lovely, elegant parts of life were admitted, and grim reality, even of body functions, had to be hidden off site. Obviously, Swift thought the whole concept pretty ridiculous.
This little tidbit of history shows just how far removed even Perrault’s stories were from the reality of the peasants and real life from which they came. These stories were just part of the game of being at court and having fun.
Before you begin
Think about the question below. You may, if you wish, post your answers to the class forum, but this is entirely voluntary. The purpose of this part of the lesson is just to get you thinking about what your assumptions are about fairy tales.
- As far as you remember it, how does the story of “Little Red Riding-Hood” end?
- What is the moral of the story in your mind? What does the story teach little girls to do?
- How does the story of “Sleeping Beauty” end?
- What happens to the stepsisters at the end of “Cinderella”?
- What do you think of when you hear the name Mother Goose?
- What do you know of King Louis XIV?