Episode 18 – Reimagining Rapunzel


Anarchy Episode 6: Rapunzel

Introductions: Austin, Alex, Michael


Michael: Barbie animated dvd : 2002

I chose to analyze the retelling of Rapunzel called Barbie as Rapunzel because my daughters told me I had to. This is a direct to dvd computer animated fairytale made in 2002 by Mainframe and Mattel entertainment. It is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm Fairy tale Rapunzel. It starts out with Barbie telling her sister Chelsea the story of Rapunzel to inspire Chelsea to be a better painter. In the story Rapunzel is trapped in the tower of a mansion behind a magical barrier created by the sorceress Gothel. Rapunzel has a friend talking rabbit named Hobie with her as well as a friend talking dragon named Sophie. Sophie’s dad is a huge talking dragon named Hugo who Gothel rides around and puts to work protecting her Mansion. One day Rapunzel and her two friends happen to find a magical hairbrush that had been given to Rapunzel as a gift when she was one year old. Rapunzel figures out that Gothel has been lying to her by saying that her parents abandoned her when she was a newborn. After finding the brush Rapunzel wanders into the nearby village where she saves a princess and meets the princess’s Brother Prince Stefan but never gets around to asking his name. Gothel has a pet Otter named Otto who tells Gothel where Rapunzel went and Gothel confronts Rapunzel calling her a liar when Rapunzel can’t remember Stefan’s name. Stefan looks everywhere for Rapunzel but can’t find her. Then the magic hairbrush turns into a paintbrush which can transport Rapunzel to the place she paints with it. Rapunzel meets Stefan again and they try to find her parents but there is a feud between Stefan’s family and the family of the neighboring king Wilhelm which gets in the way. Just then Sophie asks Rapunzel to return to Gothel or Gothel will kill her dad Hugo. When Rapunzel returns Gothel puts a spell on the tower preventing anyone with a lying heart from leaving. She also takes Rapunzel’s hair as a disguise to get at Stefan’s family. Rapunzel escapes with the help of Hugo and Sophie to confront Gothel. That’s when we learn that Gothel stole Rapunzel from King Wilhelm in order to start the feud between the two kingdoms as revenge for king Wilhelm breaking her heart a looooong time ago. So Rapunzel tricks Gothel into going back to the tower where Gothel is trapped in her own spell for lying to Rapunzel. Rapunzel marries Stefan thus breaking the feud and saving both kingdoms. This story helps Chelsea to find inspiration to start painting again.

Alex: Disney’s Tangled – 2010

For my retelling I decided to do the Disney movie Tangled. The movie was released in 2010 and is about a magic flower that was used to keep Mother Gothel young. In the retelling, the flower is stolen from Mother Gothel in order to heal a queen who is about to give birth in a nearby kingdom. While trying to retrieve the flower, Gothel comes to find that there are traces of the flower left in the queen’s newborn daughter’s hair and if the hair were to be cut, it would lose the power of the flower. Gothel steals the baby, who is named Rapunzel, and raises her in an isolated tower so she can use the Rapunzel’s hair to stay young. On the night of Rapunzel’s 18th birthday, she requests to leave the tower and explore but Gothel refuses, telling Rapunzel that outside the tower is not safe. Meanwhile, a man named Flynn Rider steals Rapunzel’s meant-to-be crown from the kingdom and comes across Rapunzel’s tower when trying to get away. Rapunzel captures Flynn and finds out that he has the crown but she doesn’t realize its significance because she has been locked away since she can remember. Rapunzel has to hide Flynn so she tells Gothel to get her paint that would take three days to retrieve and Gothel accepts. Rapunzel tells Flynn that if he gets her out of the tower she will give him back the crown. Throughout the story Rapunzel uses her hair to get her and Flynn out of trouble and soon they start to fall in love. Flynn tells Rapunzel that his real name is Eugene and they both return to the kingdom where Eugene gets captured for stealing the crown but Rapunzel arranges a truce in honor of her 18th birthday. Next, Gothel comes and steal Rapunzel back and returns her to the tower. Rapunzel begins to realize that she is the long-lost princess and confront Gothel about it. Meanwhile, Eugene is being sentenced to death but is then saved by his friends he knows from a pub he is a regular at. Eugene then goes to try to save Rapunzel from the tower. Eugene climbs up the tower using Rapunzel’s hair just to find that she is tied up. Gothel stabs Eugene and attempts to run away with Rapunzel, but Rapunzel comes up with a plan to save Eugene. She agrees to lifelong captivity if she is allowed to heal Eugene with her hair. As Eugene is dying, he slices off a piece of Rapunzel’s hair which made Gothel start to age rapidly causing her to fall out the window of the tower to her death. As Rapunzel cries over dying Eugene, one of her tears which still contains the power of the flower, lands on Eugene’s cheek and heals him. The two return to the kingdom and Rapunzel is reunited with her parents and Eugene is pardoned for his crimes.

Austin: Anne Sexton’s poem, Rapunzel – 1971

My Retelling is a poem called “Rapunzel” by Anne Sexton, which was published in the year 1971. This poem starts off with two women who are in love with each other and she goes into great detail of how the two women are intimate with one another, they do not hide their feelings for one another, and convince each other to lock themselves away from all boys and to play with each other. When the Rapunzel retelling actually begins halfway through the poem, Rapunzel’s parents are in desperate need of healing the mother from illness when they stumble across an enchanted garden cursed and locked away by the evil sorceress, Gothel. When the father sees the flower, he hops the fence to retrieve the medicine for the mother to eat, when the mother finishes eating the flower, the witch confronts them and demands a trade for her newborn daughter to spare their lives. Gothel named the daughter Rapunzel and locks her way in a stone cold tower to keep away from boys and people that could take Rapunzel away from her. Rapuzel’s hair is very strong and long and golden that can stretch all the way from the top to the bottom of the tower. Gothel would yell Rapunzel, “hold me my young dear, hold me,” as Rapunzel would use her hair to carry Gothel to the top of the tower to play “mother-me-doo”. One day, a prince from the nearby village hears Rapunzel’s beautiful singing and calls for her to bring down her hair. Rapunzel listens to the prince and her and the prince now see each other every night, every time the prince is underneath the tower. One day, Gothel finds out that Rapunzel has been seeing this prince and banishes her from the tower and is to wander in the woods for the rest of her life to repent for her sins against Gothel who pretends to be her mother. Gothel cuts off Rapuzel’s hair to the ears and not only ruins the garden but ruins the health of Gothel allowing her to age. The prince comes to the tower the next day only to meet Gothel and hear the news of her banishment. As he jumps out of the tower he lands in a pile of thorns and is pricked in the eyes eternally blinding him from eyesight for the rest of his life. He wanders in the woods blind for years and ultimately runs into Rapunzel from hearing her sing. They are reunited and live happily ever after, while Gothel is aging back in the garden and her heart has shrunk to the size of a pin.


Discussion of source story archetypes:

Brothers Grimm: Rapunzel- 1857


The source Rapunzel story is tale-type 310 in the Aarne-Thompson index and has recurring themes of purity and chastity as represented by the high tower that Rapunzel is always locked away in. This is also represented by the golden color of Rapunzel’s hair and light color of her skin. Every Rapunzel story has to involve Rapunzel’s really long hair which sometimes can weigh her down while at other times can be used as a tool like when she uses it to bring guests into the high tower. Her story also always involves an evil croon or sorceress. Gothel is the one that puts Rapunzel up in the tower after stealing her from her parents. This represents a disconnect from the people around Rapunzel. Then the Gothel character passes judgement on Rapunzel for losing her purity. Another recurring character is the prince that breaks through Rapunzel’s isolation but also comes to remove her from her puritan state of being. The story also has some magic use usually by Gothel since she is after all a sorceress but also by Rapunzel because in the end she heals the prince with her tears in the original version. A smaller symbol would be the flowers that give Rapunzel her name but also probably give her the magic for healing since in the original Grimm Version they come from Gothel’s magical garden. The prince getting hurt and wandering around a lot is also an important theme since only the love from Rapunzel and her tears can heal him, but until she does he has a lot of pain and suffering.


Individual Analyses:


In both of the Rapunzel stories I read, there are many archetypes that are passed from the original Brothers Grimm version of Rapunzel to Disney’s Tangled version. I think the most important being the tower. In both of the stories the tower is used as a barrier; blocking Rapunzel from the outside world. In the retelling Tangled, the tower is also used as a place where Gothel can hide her most valuable possession: the hair that makes her stay young. Disney started changing the retelling by first making the mother of Rapunzel into the Princess of a kingdom not far from Gothel’s. I think this adds more of a plot and also helps the movie appeal to children watching. Disney also cleaned up the story by having Rapunzel stolen from the parents instead of traded. Although they did keep the part about Rapunzel’s mother being sick. Disney gave purpose to the flower. They made it a magical flower that made Rapunzel’s hair heal people who touch it. Another thing Disney changed to help the plot is they turned the Prince from the Brother’s Grimm version into Flynn Rider, a mischievous guy who just happens to stumble upon her tower. Disney adds emotion to the story by having Rapunzel and Flynn, or Eugene, fall in love at the end and have Rapunzel ultimately save his life using the powers she got from the flower. I think Flynn rider stealing the crown from Rapunzel is a way Disney could portray the part about the knight taking Rapunzel’s purity in a cleaner way and less racy. Disney also added floating lanterns in the sky that Rapunzel would view from her tower every year on her birthday. The lanterns represented her dreams and aspirations of leaving the tower and having a normal life.



Anne Sexton’s Poem, Rapunzel, is very similar to the final form of the Brother’s Grimm, Rapunzel. Although the retelling between the two poems are very similar in terms of the story, there are major differences that separate the meanings of both fairytale stories. Both authors of these fairytales have darker styles of writing causing one type of audience to fine their stories fascinating, and others to be in complete shock and in an uncomfortable state. Anne Sexton starts off her poem with two woman sharing their love and sexualities with one another, ultimately incorporating her style of writing into the retelling of the Brother’s Grimm, Rapunzel. Anne Sexton is well known for retelling and mocking famous fairytales from authors such as the Brothers Grimm. She uses the style of writing a dark and twisted fairytale and made her version of Rapunzel darker than the original Brothers Grimm Rapunzel released in 1857. Some similarities in both stories is that the flower is involved which exemplifies life and youth for Gothel. The flowers keep the garden that Gothel lives in enchanted and beautiful, that is an irony to the type of person Gothel really is because she is evil and is only looking for a child to take care of and not feel lonely. The flower is also a symbol for healing for Rapunzel’s mother, who is ill and carrying a child ready to be born. Another similarity is how the prince shows up for the first time to be with Rapunzel. In both stories, he cries the same thing in both stories for Rapuzel to bring down her hair so that he could be with her. In this scene, Rapunzel’s hair is what causes her to be with the prince and ultimately lose her purity, which is what Gothel did not want to happen. This is ironic because Gothel locks Rapunzel away from anyone to contact her, but with her long hair, that is able to reach the bottom of the tower, there is no stopping anyone from entering the tower by traveling on Rapunzel’s strong, golden hair. The tower is supposed to be a barrier or a wall separating Rapuzel from the real world, love, companionship, and adulthood. Gothel wanted Rapunzel to stay with her forever and feel like the mother she never was to Rapunzel for the rest of her life. Some major differences in the two stories are certain parts that depict and change the outcome of the story. One example is that in the Brothers Grimm version, Rapunzel is open and tells Gothel that she has been seeing the prince and is most likely pregnant with him. This shows a sense of independence and that Rapunzel isn’t afraid of her “mother”. She wants to leave and spend the rest of her life with the husband and is done being locked in a tower. In Sexton’s poem, Gothel finds out about the affair and Rapunzel has been hiding her relationship with the prince the entire time. Both of these stories express a different character trait found in Rapunzel and how she is described. She is strong and independent and not afraid in the Brothers Grimm version, and is soft spoken and closer to Gothel in Sexton’s poem.   Another example, in the Brothers Grimm version, when the prince finds Rapunzel, he is cured by her tears and could see again after getting blinded by the thorns in the garden. He later finds out that she gave birth to twins and she is living a hard, sufferable life in the woods with her two newborns. In Anne Sexton’s poem, he is reunited with her and lives happily ever after, but is still blind. The tears from Rapunzel that she sheds for the prince symbolizes joy of being reunited, represents love, and compassion towards the father of their family. It is a situation that involves two lovers that can still love and be with each other no matter what obstacle or circumstances are thrown at them, whether it’s a witch, tower, or a cursed garden. Both of these versions of Rapunzel have differences that ultimately draw back to the main idea that you can’t hide your children or adopted children from the real world and adulthood. They will eventually find their way into the real world and figure out their own identity that not even a sorceress can stop. Loneliness will eventually turn into happiness and love once encountering another human being that brings joy into your life.



Barbie as Rapunzel gets rid of the Rapunzel flowers narrative of Rapunzel’s origins and replaces it with the origin story of Rapunzel being a princess who is taken from King Wilhelm as a toddler. I think this gives the story more purpose and much needed elaboration. Barbie however keeps the purity theme going and turns it into a righteous heart aspect when Gothel keeps Asking Rapunzel for Stefan’s name. Rapunzel tells her the truth even though Gothel doesn’t buy it. Because Rapunzel escapes Gothel’s final spell by continuing to be truthful Rapunzel seems to still be pure of heart. This whole story smells of a “the Truth Will Set You Free” theme. Barbie as Rapunzel also lets Rapunzel take down the evil sorceress and save the kingdoms. This is how many of the Barbie fairy tale movies seem to empower the female characters and reinforce the strong woman point of view. Barbie herself has had over 100 occupations and is always the heroine in her movies which sends out a message to young ladies which says “you can do anything you set your heart to do.” This is really the message that Barbie is trying to give to Chelsea from the story.  One interesting change is that In this version Rapunzel’s hair is not used to bring people into her tower except in a dream after she meets Stefan. Her hair becomes more connected with Rapunzel’s identity especially, when Stefan invites Rapunzel to a masked ball and says that he will be able to recognize Rapunzel by her extremely long hair. This backfires though when Gothel cuts Rapunzel’s hair and uses it to steal her identity at the ball. All of the emphasis of Rapunzel’s long hair goes into it being a major part of how Rapunzel is identified instead of her being identified by her character. The lesson is to not judge a person without speaking with them which is echoed in the feud angle of this story. King Wilhelm and Stefan’s family feud for 17 years because they don’t talk to each other about their differences. As it turns out Gothel was the one that started it and kept it going by attacking both sides for years. A new theme is introduced in the form of the magical brush which Rapunzel uses to travel to and from her tower. This brush represents the love of Rapunzel’s parents even though they are separated. This gives a nicer feeling to the story of Rapunzel being ripped away from the family that loves her. Finally this version of Rapunzel gives the modern happy ending that children nowadays have come to expect from our fairy tale retellings. Rapunzel marries the prince and makes everything good. This is a much more child friendly version than when Rapunzel gets pregnant by the prince lets him get pushed out a window. Barbie as Rapunzel gives a modern feeling to the classic story be throwing in a few new lessons while maintaining the theme of Rapunzel being a young woman who is locked away with a heart of gold. It emphasizes that if you stay honest and true to your heart everything will work out in the end.



This concludes our Anarchy podcast, Im Michael, Im Alex, and I’m Austin. Thank you for watching.


Episode 17 – Retelling One Thousand and One Nights



Overview of retellings

  • Mackenzie: 1001 Rabbit Tales
  • Michael: Alladin
  • Shannon: Sinbad
  • Julia: Aladdin and The King of Thieves

Discussion of archetypes

Mackenzie’s analysis

Michael’s analysis

Shannon’s analysis:





In the story of 1001 nights, Shahrazad is definitely a hero archetype. She realizes all the horrible things that are happening to all the women around her and she knows someone needs to put an end to it. Shahrazad comes up with a plan that her sister, Dunyazad, is also in on. The plan is that before Shahrazad lies with the king she will ask to see her sister and then her sister will stay in the room while the king does what he want with Shaharzad. Usually it is a cycle that the king will have his way with a woman and then kill her after. However, since Shaharazad and her sister have developed a plan, her sister asks if Shaharazad can tell her a story. Thankfully the king allows this and Shahrazad goes on to tell 1001 stories over 1001 nights. Every night the king is so intrigued in the story and can’t wait to hear the next part of it so he continues to spare her life. Shahrazad is insanely brave! She has risked her life in order to help women all around. Even though her dad begged her to not do this she refused because she knew it needed to be done 1 .



I chose to analyze the jinni in 1001 Nights. In Jane Garry’s “Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature a Handbook,” jinni are described1“shape-shifters, thought as supernatural creatures with bodies of flame, often traveling about as whirlwinds” The jinn acts as a villain archetype through capturing the woman and forcing her to sleep with the men. This archetype blends weaponizing sexuality for evil.


Archetype Citation:


1: Garry, Jane, and Hasan M El-Shamy. Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature: a Handbook, Routledge, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=302402.




1001 Arabian nights displays a trickster archetype. More specifically, a protagonist within the story, Shaharazad is displayed as the trickster. This is because she is cunning and uses her intelligence to get what she wants and achieve her own motivations. For this reasoning, Shaharazad reminds me of puss in boots. However, Shaharazad has more of a moral conscience and plays more upon the hero archetype, which mackenzie touched on earlier. The trickster archetype is something I find interesting because it can vary greatly depending on the morality and conscience of the trickster. Therefore, that’s why I see a difference between the Puss in Boots trickster and the 1001 Arabian Nights trickster.


“The trickster is an alchemist, a magician, creating realities in the duality of time and illusion. In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior.”


In “The Story of Sinbad the Sailor,” the main protagonist, Sinbad, portrays a variety of archetypes. For instance, the rags to riches archetype. Although Sinbad came from a wealthy family, he foolishly spent his riches in his youth. Therefore, he sets sail as a merchant sailor to reclaim his wealth and rise from an underdog status, another archetype he portrays. Yet, in addition to the rags to riches and underdog archetypes that Sinbad portrays, he also portrays a hero archetype because in his voyages and adventures he also maintains a sense of morality by helping other along the way. Therefore, the story of Sinbad also adheres to a hero archetype. Sinbad is also a very wise and cunning entrepreneur in a way. Therefore, I found myself relating his character to Puss in Boots, although Sinbad is a much more moral protagonist, he does find a way to achieve wealth in a cunning way. I like to call Sinbad’s actions to achieve wealth entrepreneurial in spirit because he’s using his wits and his intelligence to rise in wealth. Sinbad does this through trading items and belongings for items and belongings of more value.


Nights, Arabian. “The Story of Sindbad the Sailor.” Short Stories and Classic Literature, 5AD, americanliterature.com/author/arabian-nights/short-story/the-story-of-sindbad-the-sailor.

Julia’s analysis



  • The story 1001 Nights contains a hero archetype and a journey archetype.  
  • There is also a lot of symbolism about women in the overall frame story of Shahrazad.  
  • This book was written in a time where women didn’t have any rights, especially in a culture where women were not deemed important
  • Yet the main protagonist and hero of the story is a woman who is tasked with saving the kingdom and lives of other woman
  • Poem about how women use sex as a way to power and getting what they want
  • Symbolizes the position women were in and still are today
  • Importance of storytelling is shown in which Shahrazad literally uses storytelling to save her life


Individual Analyses:



The retelling story I am analyzing is Bug’s Bunny 1001 Rabbit Tales. This is a movie that includes all of the Bug’s Bunny characters in a way to create a sattire movie of the Arabian Nights collection. In this retelling, Daffy Duck and Bug’s Bunny both are assigned to sell books in different areas. I compared this part of the movie to the two brothers that ruled different kingdoms. Throughout Bug’s and Daffy’s encounters they both end up back together and fall into a kingdom of Arabian culture, just like how the brothers come back together. Bug’s Bunny goes to the kingdom and asks the king, who is Yosemite Sam wearing a turban, if he would like to buy this book that has 1001 children’s stories. Yosemite Sam is ecstatic because he needs someone to read to his son, the prince of the kingdom. Bug’s initially refuses and is then threatened to be thrown into boiling oil if he does not read these stories. Bug’s is playing the role of Shaharzad since he is reading the stories but he definitely is not a hero like she is. He is only reading these stories to the prince because the only other option is death. This is similar to Shaharzad but she was clever enough to think of a plan to put an end to all of the deaths the king was causing. Bug’s only motive to do this is to save his own life which makes him just like any other human being.

The movies continues and Bug’s reads a handful of classic fairytales to the prince. These fairytales include: Jack and the beanstock, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and Goldilocks. Similar to Arabian nights, the stories that are being told are folktales. However, the difference in the stories in the Rabit tales compared to the Arabian Nights is that the stories all have an end and then the next one begins. In Arabian Nights, Shaharzad has to make sure each story ends on a cliffhanger to make sure the king wants to keep her around in order to hear the rest of the story.

Thankfully, since this is a children’s movie, there is no acknowledgement of rape or murder. I do think that these two components of Arabian Nights are what make it such famous collection because there is lots, in a sense, drama. Instead, the Bug’s Bunny version has them just try to sell books and then they are roped into a bad situation but Shaharzad puts herself in this bad situation in order to help the women being killed. There definitely is a big gap between these two stories because there is no rape and murder which I think is a key component to the Arabian nights collection. Without these two components there really wouldn’t be a story2.



My retelling of a story from 1001 Night was the story of Aladdin. The original story of Aladdin, which is called Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,  is actually not included in the original version of the collection of stories. It is said that the story was added to the 18th century French translation by Antoine Galland, who heard it from a Syrian in an Aleppo.1

For our generation, Aladdin is one of the most well known retellings of 1001 Nights. The story focuses on Aladdin, a street boy from the fictional town of Agrabah who falls in love with the beautiful princess Jasmine. As a princess, Jasmine is supposed to marry a Royal Prince, but she is charmed by Aladdin. Here’s the synopsis from IMDB.2

The movie Aladdin starts with a street peddler telling us the tale of Jafar, the Sultan’s vizier meeting with a mysterious thief figure named Kassim. The two combine their parts of a golden beetle. When they put their pieces together, a cave called the “Cave of Wonders” emerges. Jafar orders Kassim to enter, and the cave closes on Kassim, leaving Jaffar to realize that he needs “the diamond in the rough” to enter.

The next day, we are introduced to Aladdin a street boy who is just trying to get by using his wits to steal from others. Aladdin is accompanied by his sidekick monkey Abu. Princess Jasmine, the daughter of the Sultan, escapes from her palace after rejecting an advance from the Royal Prince and eventually crosses paths with Aladdin. The royal guards eventually find Aladdin and kidnap him under Jafar’s orders. When she goes looking for Aladdin, Jafar tells her that he has been killed because he kidnapped her. The truth is that Aladdin has not been killed, he was imprisoned by Jafar. Abu helps Aladdin to escape, and they encounter another prisoner who needs help to locate the Cave of Wonders. The prisoner is actually Jafar.

Aladdin, Abu and Jafar get to the cave and only Aladdin and Abu can enter. They are told that they can’t touch anything but the lamp. They are guided to the location of the lamp by a magic carpet, but Aladdin steals a ruby and the cave collapses.

Aladdin rubs the lamp and is told that he has three wishes, but he can’t do the following things: he can’t wish for more wishes, he can’t kill anyone, he can’t make anyone fall in love with someone else and he can’t bring people back from the dead. Aladdin tricks the genie into letting him escape the cave without using a wish. After escaping, Aladdin asks the genie what else he should wish for. The genie tells him that his only wish is to be free, and Aladdin makes the promise to free him for the lamp after he uses two wishes. Aladdin uses one of his wishes to become a prince because Jasmine is a princess.

Back in the city, Jafar, who desperately wants to gain power,  tries to convince the Sultan that he can marry the princess if she is not married by a certain time. Jafar is basically really good at manipulation and tries to manipulate the king with different techniques like hypnosis.

Aladdin returns to the city, and the Sultan, Jasmine and Jafar are unaware that it is Aladdin. Jasmine is unimpressed by the prince, and Aladdin eventually reveals his identity and charms her with a magic carpet ride.

Aladdin returns to the palace with Jasmine and then he is seized by guards. The guards throw him in a lake and Aladdin accidentally rubs the lamp, which causes the genie to emerge. The genie convinces Aladdin to save his own life and he returns to the palace. He finds Jafar manipulating the Sultan through hypnosis using his staff and then Aladdin destroys the staff and Jafar escapes. The Sultan sees that Jasmine wants to marry Aladdin. Now that Aladdin has used two wishes, the Genie is ready to be freed. The genie tries to convince Aladdin to free him but he’s not ready.

Jaffar, who somehow stole the lamp from Aladdin, summons the genie and makes him carry out his orders. Jaffar takes the palace to a remote mountain and uses his first wish to become a powerful wizard. He reveals to everyone that Aladdin is a poor boy and then uses his second wish to become sultan, he imprisons the sultan and Jasmine until she agrees to marry him.

Aladdin somehow finds the magic carpet again and sneaks into the palace. Aladdin again uses his wits and convinces Jafar to use his third wish to turn into the genie, due to how powerful the genie is. However, the genie is bound to obey whoever is in possession of the lamp (Jafar doesn’t know this). So then Jafar turns himself into the genie and is trapped by the lamp.

Genie and Aladdin get rid of the lamp and the genie reminds Aladdin that he still has his third wish. Genie tells Aladdin he can become a prince, but he uses his wish to free the Genie like he promised. Aladdin goes back to the city and the sultan allows him to marry his daughter and he becomes an heir to the kingdom.

While the film appears to be a fun, child friendly story, some have criticized it for portraying Orientalist stereotypes. According to the Oxford English Dictionary3, orientalism is defined as “The representation of the Orient (esp. the Middle East) in Western academic writing, art, or literature; spec. this representation perceived as stereotyped or exoticizing and therefore embodying a colonialistic attitude.” One critic, Jack Shaheen who was a professor of mass communication at the time, said in 1992 that Aladdin was “a painful reminder to 3 million Americans of Arab heritage, as well as 300 million Arabs and others, that the abhorrent Arab stereotype is as ubiquitous as Aladdin’s lamp.”4

The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee5 criticized the movie for its portrayal of Jasmine and Aladdin with lighter skin colors and that the villains/common people have darker skin. There were also issues with the first song of Aladdin, in which the first verse6 said:


From a faraway place


Where the caravan camels roam.

Where they cut off your ear

If they don’t like your face

It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.”

I think it is also important to note that Jasmine is different from many other Disney characters. Her outfits are much more revealing than other princesses and I think that this was a deliberate decision by the creators of the film.

Although I enjoyed the film as a kid, I realize that there are mainly problematic elements with its themes. As consumers of media, we need to be vigilant about what types of media we’re watching.

Close reading/analysis citations:

1: https://ajammc.com/2017/08/10/who-was-the-real-aladdin/

2: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103639/plotsummary#synopsis

3: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/132531?redirectedFrom=orientalism#eid

4: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170714-the-aladdin-controversy-disney-cant-escape

5: https://web.archive.org/web/20070405005650/http:/www.adc.org/index.php?id=283

6: http://articles.latimes.com/1993-07-10/entertainment/ca-11747_1_altered-lyric



In “The Story of Sinbad the Sailor,” the main protagonist, Sinbad, portrays a variety of archetypes. For instance, the rags to riches archetype. Although Sinbad came from a wealthy family, he foolishly spent his riches in his youth. Therefore, he sets sail as a merchant sailor to reclaim his wealth and rise from an underdog status, another archetype he portrays. Yet, in addition to the rags to riches and underdog archetypes that Sinbad portrays, he also portrays a hero archetype because in his voyages and adventures he also maintains a sense of morality by helping other along the way. Therefore, the story of Sinbad also adheres to a hero archetype. Sinbad is also a very wise and cunning entrepreneur in a way. Therefore, I found myself relating his character to Puss in Boots, although Sinbad is a much more moral protagonist, he does find a way to achieve wealth in a cunning way. I like to call Sinbad’s actions to achieve wealth entrepreneurial in spirit because he’s using his wits and his intelligence to rise in wealth. Sinbad does this through trading items and belongings for items and belongings of more value.


For my retelling, I chose “The Story of Sinbad the Sailor.” This story follows the protagonist of Sinbad. Sinbad comes from a wealthy family, although due to poor financial choices, he loses his wealth and must fend for himself. Therefore, he becomes a merchant sailor and sets out to sea to fulfill his motives of gaining wealth. While at sea, his ship becomes shipwrecked on an island. The island turns out to be a whale, and Sinbad must float to a nearby island. While on the island, his hero side comes to lights when he helps a horse groom save a mare from drowning. This man turns out to be a servant of the King of the island.


Sinbad soon meets the King, who graciously thanks him for helping his servant. The King then awards Sinbad with a treasure chest of valuables. Sinbad then trades the items in the chest for more valuable items, thus greatly increasing his wealth. This was Sinbad’s first voyage. Sinbad soon goes on another voyage. While reading the story of Sinbad, it becomes evident that Sinbad’s voyages and the plot of “The Story of Sinbad the Sailor” have a very repetitive plot. For instance, after Sinbad’s second voyage, he increases his wealth with the same actions as he did on his last voyage. Therefore, he again trades valuable items for items that are of more value, hence increasing his wealth in an entrepreneurial like way.


Sinbad goes on many voyages. Throughout Sinbad’s voyages, the consistently story portrays many staples that are common in fairytales. For instance, there’s the existence of a monster or vicious animal (i.e., a sea monster, a huge snake, etc.), a hero that saves someone in need (i.e., the mare and the horse groom), a hero being rewarded by an authority figure (i.e., the King).


Nights, Arabian. “The Story of Sindbad the Sailor.” Short Stories and Classic Literature, 5AD, americanliterature.com/author/arabian-nights/short-story/the-story-of-sindbad-the-sailor.



  1. “10 Common Character Archetypes.” n.d. The Writer’s Spot. Accessed May 8, 2018. http://thewriterspot.weebly.com/13/post/2014/08/common-character-archetypes.html.


  1.  Dunn, John W. ,Detiege, David, Bug’s Bunny 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales, Movie, directed/performed by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng (1982).


  1. Nights, Arabian. “The Story of Sindbad the Sailor.” Short Stories and Classic Literature, 5AD, americanliterature.com/author/arabian-nights/short-story/the-story-of-sindbad-the-sailor.


Julia’s Analysis:

I decided to analyze a modern day reteling of ali baba and the forty thieves

Ali baba and the forty theives is one of the most popular stories from arbian nights and is most commonly used as a childrens story today.


The film Aladdin and the King of Thieves is a sequel to the disney movie aladdin and a modern retelling of the story ali baba and the forty thieves


In the original story archtypes include a hero, ali baba, a mentor, morgiana, a villian, the theives and the leader and a storyline of maturtity


An overview of the story: 2 brothers, one greedier than the other marries a rich woman and the other works hard to support himself and his wife. One day he sees a band of thieves open a MAGIC cave full of treasure with a secret phrase.  Once they leave he carefully and discretely takes gold out of it only telling his wife of the cave. Ali baba asks his sister in law for a scale to weigh their new gold but she secretly put wax on the scale to find out what they were using it for. She realizes they have all this new gold and ali babas brother pressures him to telling him his secret which he does.  Cassim as greedy as he is goes to the cave takes as much as he can but forgets the phrase that unlocks the cave, gets trapped in side and gets killed by the theives. Ali baba goes back to find his brother and finds cassims body chopped up. Ali baba takes his body in order to have mogiana, cassims slave, find a way to sew the body up which she finds a tailor for. Once the theives realize the body is gone, they also realize someone else knows about the cave and devise plans to capture the invidicidual. Morgiana thwarts these plans over and over


In the movie cassim, alibabas greedy father is replaced by the character of aladdins father who acts in the same sense, a character that is greedy, in the movie the object of his desire is the hand that can turn anything into gold

but in the end he decides his true treasure in life is his son


Much child friendlier than the original

In the original its hard to tell if ali baba is really a good guy , in this movie ali baba is aladdin a familiar and loved character.


The most common retellings we see are ones that are “G” rated versions of the original


Morgiana’s role is the most interesting one to examine in this story. Socially, Morgiana is effectively invisible – she is not only a slave but also a woman. Women in these stories often cause messes through their foolishness; Morgiana, however, is the stark opposite. In fact, she is story’s true hero, not only because of her cleverness but also because of her loyalty. She is strong, resourceful, and calm in the face of danger, performing all the clever feats we would expect a male hero to.


Much like many fairy tales weve read so far, ali baba and the forty thieves offers a great example  whereby a poor man rises to riches by means of a lucky break

Ali Baba is in the right place at the right time to learn the thieves’ secret, this supports the idea that even the poorest of men can come across good fortune. Of course, the story then suggests that one must capitalize on that good fortune through vigilance and cleverness.


Ali Baba is rewarded with prosperity and happiness for doing exactly what made the captain and the forty thieves reprehensible in the first place: stealing. Ali Baba consistently steals from the cave, and allows the greed of others to threaten his safety. At first, the story suggests he will suffer because of greed – but then cleverness saves the day.


An interesting parallel can be drawn between Ali Baba and the robber captain; are they really that different? In this story, the line between hero and villain can become blurred if you look closely enough, or unless you realize you ought to be looking not at the male namesake but at the slave girl in the background.

This is strange to see especially at this time.  



  1. “Aladdin and the King of Thieves.” Disney Wiki. Accessed May 11, 2018. http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Aladdin_and_the_King_of_Thieves.
  2. Nights, Arabian. “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” Short Stories and Classic Literature. Accessed May 11, 2018. https://americanliterature.com/author/arabian-nights/short-story/ali-baba-and-the-forty-thieves.


Music citations:


Freesound.org: arab-group-1.wav – xserra


Episode 12 – The Little Mermaid


(no tale type because, as we discussed in class, this isn’t technically a fairy tale)

Hi, I’m Shay, I’m Maddy, and I’m Danny. This is group 10 and we are performing our Archetype episode on “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen. “The Little Mermaid” was published in 1837 in a danish fairy tale collection.


Publication info: “The Little Mermaid” was first published 7 April 1837.

Further information: Digterens danske Værker 1822-1875 number 304.

The work was published as a part of Eventyr, fortalte for Børn. Første Samling. Tredie Hefte. 1837[Danish title].


-Grandmother, also like the fairy godmother. In this story, the grandmother is a source of knowledge about the world above the sea, and is a loving figure.

-Youngest Child: often the most beautiful and gifted. Often the subject of fairy tales

-Witch: lives in woods (and yet somehow underwater).  The witch isn’t as evil as other witches common to fairy tales. She makes the little mermaid really think about her decisions. Archetype of the old crone. In this case, she is both helping and hindering the main character in the story. She helps the little mermaid get to the land, but also makes her journey difficult by imposing various drawbacks.

– Sisters: The little mermaid has many sisters. Sisters are common characters in fairy tales. These sisters are loving, although they have some trouble understanding the little mermaid’s desires.

-Dead mother

-Clueless king/father: he doesn’t play a large role in this tale.

-Prince as the guileless fool: he is not a very dynamic character. Because we read the story from the mermaid’s perspective, we are frustrated at how blind the prince is to her love. Everything turns out well for the prince in the end, he gets his happily ever after without putting in any effort, but the mermaid suffers.


– Numbers (age 15): coming of age

-Cutting off tongue/voicelessness: metaphor for femininity

-Hair as a symbol of feminine beauty: sister’s have to sacrifice their hair in order to try and save the little mermaid.

-Sea foam as a symbol for the essence of life: tying in with protoplasmic theory that was popular at the time the story was written

-Marble statue: symbol of personhood, image of beauty, immortal soul

-Pain/blood:  symbolizing menstruation.


Hans Christian Andersen wrote “The Little Mermaid” while living in Denmark in the eighteen-hundreds. While growing up, Andersen was raised by a poor family and had depression issues. He had heard many fairy tales from his grandmother throughout the years, which probably sparked his interest in this genre[1]. The combination of childhood sadness and hearing tales may have been an influence for incorporating darkness into his tale “The Little Mermaid”.

Because this fairy tale was written in the pre-darwin era, it shows how ideas about life and death were different then from how they are now. Women weren’t necessarily seen as people; they had to gain their status through men. Much of what determined status for women back then was marriage.

In class, we related this idea to the tale. In “The Little Mermaid,” mermaids do not have souls. Although they live much longer than humans, when they die they turn into foam. The tale explained that a mermaid can obtain an immortal soul if she marries a human man. This is likely related to the views of women at the time. Status for women was gained either through her father or through her husband. She was passed from one to the other like property, with marriage acting as a transfer of ownership[2].

The foam that the tale mentioned also relates to the time which Andersen wrote this story. Protoplasmic theory was popular at the time. The idea behind this theory is that protoplasm is the essential substance that brings life. Life in all forms is tied to protoplasm. This was an early incarnation of cell biology[3]. Protoplasm can be correlated to foam, in the case of “The Little Mermaid.” When a mermaid dies in this story, they become nature again in the form of sea foam. The foam is a metaphor for the essence of life.




-implications for women: women were seen as less than people.

They were viewed as property. This view is displayed by how the prince acts towards the mermaid. He completely takes her for granted. He knows that she is devoted to him, but what does he ever do for her? She is merely a source of affection. She serves his needs, but he does not reciprocate at all. He does not value her as a person, and repeatedly refers to her as “dumb.” He treats her no better than a pet.

-validation through marriage: women cannot be validated as individuals

Instead, they must gain status through marriage. If their efforts to find a suitable husband prove futile, then there is not much else that they can do to be successful in society. This really reflects the beliefs of women at the time.

-silencing of women, and metaphors of womanhood

The mermaid has to cut off her tongue in order to pursue her prince. Because she has to learn how to attract with her body rather than voice, this story can be viewed as a metaphor for womanhood. Not only this, but it indicates a woman’s lack of power in society. She, quite literally, is unable to voice her opinions or say anything at all about who she is. Just like women are powerless to the injustices against them in society. This is a coming of age story, meant to portray how women have to adjust to society’s view of them once they reach maturity. Furthermore, the fact that every step she takes feels like knives, and that “the blood must flow” this brings to mind images of menstruation, adding to the metaphor of womanhood.

(All the historical facts I refer to here were pulled from our historical context section, or in-class discussions. I did not use any additional sources)


-In my close reading I found that this story was written with a masculine essence, which i interpreted in a dominating way. This relates to the historical connections in this story. It shows how men were somewhat more meaningful than women at the time. One way this was expressed was how Andersen described the community under the sea. He described this by describing the underwater community as “sea king and his subjects”. This story also uses this manner when explaining a women’s choices and desires. Throughout the story, I found it interesting how the little mermaid is always choosing to do dangerous acts to attempt to get what she wants. This is shown when she reaches the age of five-teen, and is able to go to the surface of the ocean. There, she finds the prince. The remainder of the story consists of her fighting to be with him. It is all about The Little Mermaid enduring losses and sacrifices have him as her own. She does this to become mortal and live as a human with the prince. This is shocking to me because this story is not how fairy tales usually play out. She sacrificed her voice and tongue to be with him, even though she would not be able to remind him of the first time he saw her due to her loss of voice. She endured sharp pains with every step she took, to be able to have human feet. She put her life on the line, only to be turned to foam. The prince ended up choosing to not have her, making the little mermaid suffer the consequence of death. Each time she got denied of something, she kept fighting and working towards what she wanted. However, it all ended when the male in this tale decided he wanted another woman. She lost everything she had, including her life, because of his decision. She knew she would be forever immortal and die if the prince did not choose her, and she continued to take those risks. This shows how conflict and frustration are strong trends in this tale and how it is perceived. I think that Andersen was trying to tell the audience through the story that life doesn’t always have to end in happy endings, even if it is sacrificed for.


     In my close-reading of “The Little Mermaid”, I argue that the story is a female coming-of-age tale as reflected in its imagery and that the little mermaids’ physical transformation is symbolic of a female’s transition from adolescence into womanhood. The idea that the little mermaid begins having sexual desires at the age of 15, and must go through a physical transformation to fulfill those desires, is a clear allusion to puberty. It is of note that the little mermaid’s only prerequisite to become human is through the acquisition of legs, an analogy to the physical requirements necessary to engage with a man sexually. Analogous to the little mermaid’s physical transformation is physical pain – a clear reference to the physical pain of a woman’s menstruation. The little mermaid feels physical pain at the beginning of her pubescent transformation when she is adorned with oysters by her grandmother, and again after drinking the witch’s draught – for which the witch says that the “blood must flow”. The cutting off of the little mermaid’s tongue as well as the blood requirement of the draught are also clear references to the physical turmoil of a woman’s puberty. One thing that I thought was interesting was that the little mermaid must sacrifice her voice in order to undergo her transformation. In literature, the voice of a mermaid or a siren is so beautiful that traveling sailors cannot escape its coercive beauty[4]. As a mermaid, by sacrificing her voice, the little mermaid is literally sacrificing her means of attracting men. In many traditional cultures, a woman’s virginity goes hand-in-hand with her social value and her ability to attract a man. Thus, the little mermaid’s loss of voice is symbolic of a loss of virginity or innocence – which makes sense in context of the story – as the little mermaid seeks the help of a witch to engage in her sexual desires involving the prince. Another interesting allusion to puberty and a girl’s transition into womanhood is the reason for the little mermaid needing physical legs. In the story, tails are considered “ugly” to human and the little mermaid won’t be considered beautiful until she has her “legs” – a metaphor that a woman’s physical beauty is developed during her transition into womanhood, and that the little mermaid won’t become beautiful until she’s gone from girl to woman. In puberty, we find transformation – a theme within the story that is clearly reflected in the story’s imagery. A common image used in the story is the flower, especially common in its use to describe the little mermaid and her sisters. The flower undergoes a physical transformation from bud to flower, and its use in conjunction with the mermaids in the story is a clear reference to themes of puberty and maturation explored in the story. Another image of physical transformation I thought was notable was the mermaids’ transition from ocean to the surface world on their 15th birthdays. The imagery of the mermaids going from underwater to the surface above water plays on the idea of rebirth and, thus, physical transformation. Finally, the repeated imagery of the sun & moon is symbolic of the entrance of masculine energy into the little mermaid’s world. In literature, the moon is often associated with the feminine energy and the ocean[5][6], while the sun is often associated with masculine energy & land[7] the two having a kind of yin and yang relationship. Up until her 15th birthday, the little mermaid is confined to the ocean – the feminine – and knows nothing of the sun. On her 15th birthday, she is able to go above-water and experience the sun & the surface world for the first time, symbolic of the entrance of masculine energy into the little mermaid’s world as she begins her pubescent transformation.


[1]“Hans Christian Andersen – Biography.” Fairy Tales Collection: A Collection of the World’s      Fairy Tales. Accessed April 27, 2018.


[2]Wojtczak, Helena. “WOMEN’S STATUS IN MID 19TH-CENTURY ENGLAND A BRIEF    OVERVIEW.” English Women’s History. Accessed April 27, 2018.        (http://www.hastingspress.co.uk/history/overview.html)

[3]Geison, Gerald L. “The Protoplasmic Theory of Life and the Vitalist-Mechanist Debate.” Isis   60, no. 3 (1969): 273-92.

[4]“History of Sirens.” Real Mermaids. Accessed May 01, 2018. http://www.realmermaids.net/mermaid-history/siren-history/.

[5]“Connection between Woman and the Moon.” Freedom Technology. Accessed May 01, 2018. https://www.freedomtek.org/en/moon/the_woman_and_the_moon.php.

[6]Protas, Allison. “Moon.” Moon. Accessed May 01, 2018. http://umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/M/moon.html.

[7]Protas, Allison. “Sun.” Sun. Accessed May 01, 2018. http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/S/sun.html.


Episode 11 – The Lady of Gollerus

Primary Tasks:

  • Oral and Publishing History- Spencer Green
  • Cultural and Historical Contexts- Reid Dolyniuk
  • Major Archetypes- Zach Schrage



  • Zach Schrage
  • Reid Dolyniuk
  • Spencer Green


Story Info:

  • Publishing and Oral History:
    • “The Lady of Gollerus” is an Irish tale from Thomas Crofton Croker book, Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, vol. 2. We found this tale on D.L. Ashliman website, pitt.edu, undertale type 4080 which is categorized as “Water Spirit Legends: Stories about mermaids, nixies, and other supernatural creatures who live in the water.” This particular version was published in 1834 in London, England by John Murray, however the original book was published in 1825.
    • There is not too much information regarding the oral history of this collection of tales, although according to Google Books, the tales were gathered from Irish peasants and storytellers. With this information we are led to believe that there was a strong oral history in Ireland well into the nineteenth century.
  • Story Summary: This is a story about a lonely fisherman named Dick who one day, while out fishing for work, encounters a merrow, a specific type of mermaid, out at sea. He thinks she is very beautiful and her voice is a contributing factor. When he approaches her, he snatches her magical cap that allows her to traverse under water, before she can dive back in and escape. Dick soon offers her an invitation to live with him as his wife which she accepts, starting a new life with Dick. These two have a happy life but this is only after Dick convinced the priest to break his code with a little bit of gold. The merrow and Dick eventually have three children together, two boys and a girl. One day Dick leaves to go on a long term fishing trip which entices the merrow to snoop around the house. She comes across her magical cap and is rushed with memories regarding her past and more importantly, her family. With the opportunity to make her own choice, she weighs the options between staying with her family on land or returning to her family in the sea.


Major Archetypes:

  • Characters
    • Charming Price (in a sense): Dick takes the role as the charming prince in this mermaid tale, but rather than the mermaid coming to him, Dick goes to her and charms her into being his wife.
    • The Beautiful Damsel: The merrow is the damsel of the story, but she is not a damsel in distress; she assumes the important female role of the tale while being independent.
  • The Calm Before the Storm: Everything in the world is calm at the beginning of the story. The ocean is smooth, and Dick is just smoking and fishing before the plot begins when he sees and steals from the merrow.
  • The Number Three: The number three is popular in fairy tales. It is usually used in fairy tales to make a comparison among certain aspects in the story, such as characters, as seen with the three bears in the Goldilocks tale or the pigs in “The Three Little Pigs.” In this tale, three is displayed in the number of kids that the merrow and Dick have as well as the amount of adult characters that have dialog. Whether there is a significance to this or not, the use of the number three is very prominent. This may lead us to conclude that there is a comparison between the kids and, similarly, the adults.
  • Setting
    • Kingdom
      • The story does not explicitly depict a kingdom, however it alludes to a kingdom being the home of the merrow, since she is the daughter of the sea king.
    • Ocean vs Land
      • Typical of mermaid fairy tales, there is the setting of the ocean in contrast to the land. This tale focuses more on the life on land than the life in the sea.
  • Family Bond: This tale displays a love for family members by the merrow when she speaks to the ocean to tell her family goodbye and later when she finds her Cohuleen Druith causing her to return to her family, not without experiencing sorrow for leaving her husband and children. The missing of family members alters the story heavily as in other tales.
  • Women’s Choices and Desires (or lack thereof)
    • The story revolves around a man who manipulates a young woman, though for semi-good intentions.
      • Dick “abducts” the merrow from her home, the ocean, when he takes away her power to return to the sea, forcing her to marry him and live with him on land. In mermaid tales it is normal for a man to steal or force the mermaid to give up its magical essence, whether it be skin for selkies or a hat for merrows, binding them to land.
  • The Maturation of Women: Within the story the merrow goes from being a young girl to a strong wife and mother with her own brood of children. The story plays as a timeline for the life of the merrow.
  • Marriage: There is the marriage of the damsel to the “prince”. This seals the damsel’s fate with the prince and locks her into the story. Dick marries the merrow, even though he is not a prince, following the template of two important opposite sex characters getting married.
  • The Happy Family: The family that Dick and the merrow have together follow this archetype that is seen in other fairy tales, like “The Twelve Brothers.”


Cultural and Historical Background:

  • Location Information
    • Smerwick Harbor is at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula in southwest Ireland.
    • Gallerous is a small village on the eastern side of the harbor.
  • Time Period
    • The time period this story was written in is the early nineteenth century (1825).
  • Religion (http://www.irishhistorian.com/IrishHistoryTimeline.html)
    • The Catholic Association was established in Dublin in 1823.
      • There are strict views on marriage represented with the priest’s unwillingness to marry Dick to the merrow.
      • There is an explicit mention of Christianity.
  • Fishermen (http://www.angelfire.com/mn/marion/fishing.html)
    • Nineteenth century Irish fisheries were underfunded which led to a decline in work for fishermen and therefore a decline in fish. This coupled with the potato famine that was occuring at the time resulted in a diminishing population and financial struggle for those who survived.
  • Famine (http://www.irishhistorian.com/IrishHistoryTimeline.html)
    • The 1816 potato crop failure caused famine and tough times for all, especially those with little money/wealth.
      • This explains Dick’s fascination with the merrow’s status and money as well as the priest’s change of heart in marrying Dick to the merrow once he was offered money. Neither of these men were necessarily greedy, they were just struggling to feed themselves and live comfortably during the time of the famine.
  • Class System (http://www.libraryireland.com/Brehon-Laws/Classification-Society.php)
    • There were six distinct classes in nineteenth-century Ireland, beginning with royalty and ending with those who were non-free.
      • We think Dick would be considered part of the fourth class as he was a free, property owner who had little possessions.
      • The merrow may not technically fit into a social class since she is not fully human, however if she were assigned a class distinction, she would be in the first class as she the daughter of the sea king.
  • Marriage and Gender Roles
    • Marriage prior to the 1850s was important for women, because it declared their personhood.
      • Women’s roles were to be wives, mothers, and domestic workers while men’s roles were to work in order to provide for their family.
        • This story is interesting in that it focuses more on the man’s need for the woman, rather than the typical reverse situation as seen when Dick regards himself as useless without a wife. Also, though Dick works, he does not make much money as a fisherman, yet the merrow has lots of money, so she almost takes the role as the provider as well.


Perform the Story:


Prominent Archetypes Not Included:

  • No prize or reward at the end of the story: There is no golden goose in this story, because all the two main characters want is to be happy.
  • No quest: The story has no plan; things just happen. There is no quest to marry the merrow since she willingly agreed to Dick’s proposal.
  • No important king or queen: The only king mentioned is the father of the merrow but he has no significance besides having wealth and representing family.
  • No real hero: There is no daring hero in the story, making this tale more dramatic than full of action.
  • No helpers to the main characters: There are no active animal helpers seen in the story like in “Snow White.” There is reference of fish that help the merrow, but it’s never seen in the story.
  • No real sacrifice: The merrow gives up being with her family, but that isn’t stressed as a huge sacrifice. She didn’t have to give up her voice or her hair or be in pain just to be human; maybe she sacrificed her power to live both on land and in the ocean?
  • Voicelessness: Unlike most mermaid tales, the merrow in this story speaks and is actually the main reason why Dick loves her so much; he loves her before she reveals that she is the king of the waves’ daughter.



  • Cohuleen Druith: This represents the merrow’s freedom as well as who she truly is. It’s the representation of her past.
  • The Child Echo: The reference of a child’s echo of Dick’s own voice refers to how childless Dick is. This ties together his speech on the need for a women with the idea of children to follow.
  • The Land and the Ocean: These both represent a different state of mind for the merrow. The life on land represents a false life that she was convinced to be apart of. She is hiding the fact that she is a merrow. The ocean is her true world and her true self. Thus why she returns at the end of the story, because she can’t escape who she really is. She cannot stand being away from her home and is even willing to abandon her family to get there.
  • Priest: The priest represents logic and the natural state of things. But like any natural thing, it can be influenced by money. This means throwing logic out the window whenever money is involved.
  • The Strand: The strand is the beach, it represents the border between the two worlds, land and sea.
  • Colors:
    • Green hair- The pigment hair of the merrow must be the first physical trait recognized when finding a merrow, or any other human like sea creature. This is associated with growth, renewal, harmony, and fertility, illustrating the merrow and Dick’s new life with a new family.
  • Numbers: There were three kids (two boys and one girl) and three adults (the merrow, the priest, and Dick).
  • Male Expectation: This speech at the beginning of the story is a symbol of what’s expected of a man at the time which is to find a wife. It also foreshadows the rest of the story.



  • The moral of a man picking a good wife: The man has the freedom to pick any wife he wants and Dick picks a merrow. Could the moral of the story be to pick a good and loyal woman? With the consequences being that you’ll live a lonely miserable life for the rest of existence. Or is the moral more religious, dont marry demons if you don’t want bad luck. This comes from the denial of the priest at the first attempt to marry the merrow.
  • A lesson for women being loyal to men: The merrow abandons the family and never comes back, thus she receives shame from it. Is the moral of the story for young girls saying that when you take on the duties of being a caring wife and mother you need to carry out your duties, or your “family” will suffer.
  • The consequence of dealings with the unholy: Could this story be a simple moral of continue to go to church and do not deal with demons. Such as the merrow. That dealings with anything inhuman will result in bad luck.
  • Don’t disagree with the reverend: The moral being never to disagree and fight the reverend. Because going against the reverends word= bad luck. The reverend is the moral high ground in this story.  He represents what is good and right in the world and how things should be done.
  • The corruption of sins: The reverend as mentioned above is supposed to be the moral high ground and a guiding light to those that are lost. In the beginning he tries to advise Dick clearly, rejecting all  justifications of why it is a good idea. It isn’t until Dick offers the priest or reverend money does he change his mind. He has been corrupted by not only need but a desire to make himself better with the funds. When the reverend accepts and does the sinful deed of marrying the two,things start to go downhill.


Close Readings With Guiding Questions:

  • Do I like the work?
    • Zach: I really like The Lady of Gollerus, its a happy and a sad story that ends simply.
    • Spencer: Yes, I like the work, because it is different than typical mermaid stories.
    • Reid: I like the story too, it was well written in the fact that it made me feel both happy and sad when the characters were. I personally think that that is a sign of a compelling story. When it pulls the reader into it and makes them emphasize with the characters.
  • What words stand out?
    • Zach: Merrow- This word has not been mentioned in our discussions of mermaids. It’s a cross between a Mermaid and a Selkie.
    • Spencer: cohuleen druith→ allows the merrow to change form from human to mermaid/selkie; wife/darling/man→ marriage; speak→ the merrow is able to talk and uses her voice; fish→ the merrow is sometimes referred to as a fish, pointing out her differences to humans
    • Reid: Merrow- we have learned about mermaids and selkies, but these are new. They are somewhere in between.
  • What feelings does it give me?
    • Zach: This story gives me a feeling of satisfaction because the story ends with a draw between the two main characters.
    • Spencer: The story makes me feel indifferent about whether the merrow has a good relationship with her husband or not. They enjoy each other’s company, and even though she willingly agrees to marry Dick, she was almost forced to marry him since he stole her means of returning to her family in the ocean. She clearly loved her family that created with Dick, but that was not enough to keep her from going back home to the sea. Perhaps if Dick had not stolen her cap, she would not have settled for marrying him?
    • Reid: In these types of stories I always feel conflicted. Like yes, Dick was a good man and loved her righteously but she was only there because she had nowhere else to go once he stole her cap. I honestly don’t think she would have stayed there unless for that.
  • Do I identify with any of the people represented?
    • Zach: I identify with the man because I too will never understand women.
    • Spencer: I identify with the merrow in terms of her sibling bond and missing her family while she was away from them.
    • Reid; I identify with the merrow because she struggles with her life even when nothing is really wrong. It shows that you don’t have to be perfectly content all the time.
  • Is there anything about how it’s written that stands out?
    • Zach: The story is written more simply than the other mermaid tales we have written. The story ends not in tragedy or happiness but in contempt.
    • Spencer: Other than the existence of merrows and magical caps, the story seems realistic compared to most fairy tales. Even the priest points out that humans should not marry fish, which I think in any other fairy tale would not be questioned.
    • Reid: I think it’s interesting how the priest changes his mind once money is brought up. That choice plays a direct role in the following events of the story. It brings in the what if game, something that always brings different ideas and situations to light.
  • What is the work about?
    • Zach: The work is about a man who marries a merrow off of the sea. They become wed but she eventually abandons her land family to return to the sea leaving the man behind.
    • Spencer: The work is about a lonely man who finds a beautiful merrow who he steals her cap from (the source of her power to switch from land to sea). These two end up getting married and having children, and even though they are contempt with their marriage and lives, the merrow returns to the sea to be with her family once she found her cap, leaving Dick to care for their three children.
    • Reid: The story is about a man who sees a merrow and steals her cap so that she will become his wife. They are happy for a while until she finds her hat and after a moral dilemma leaves her children and husband on land for her family of the sea.
  • What else is the work about?
    • Zach: The work is also about the taking of a mermaid from her home and converting her on land. Also about how you can’t take the sea out of the merrow.
    • Spencer: There is a slight social commentary on women’s choices and desires, but without many unfortunate sacrifices. For better or for worse the merrow was able to make her own choice in the end.
    • Reid: This story in the end is all about women reclaiming their agency in all situations not only bad ones. It is the fact that life comes at you and you can’t control it you just gotta roll with it and claim it.