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.

Episode 7 – The Golden Bird

In this episode, Group 6 talks about the archetypes in “The Golden Bird.”


“Hi I’m Alex, I’m Michael, and my name is Austin and we are going to talk about the fairy tale, The Golden Bird.


Episode Type:

“The Golden Bird” collected by the Brothers Grimm and first published in 1812,

“The Golden Bird” is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, number 57, about the pursuit of a golden bird by a king’s three sons.

It is Aarne-Thompson folktale type 550, “The Golden Bird”, a Supernatural Helper.

“The Golden Bird.” The Golden Bird | Open Access Articles | Open Access Journals | Conference Proceedings | Editors | Authors | Reviewers | Scientific Events. Accessed April 22, 2018. http://research.omicsgroup.org/index.php/The_Golden_Bird.


Story Info:

  1. Consists of 3 brothers that are in search of the Golden Bird, which their father (the King) wants to expand his power and kingdom. The two older brothers ignore advice from a fox in the woods and live in a tavern full of fun and pleasure for months while the youngest son is good natured and listens to the advice of the fox. Ultimately, after disobeying the fox a couple of times the son ends up with the fastest horse, the most beautiful woman in the land, and the golden bird to give to his father. He buys his brothers from treason but is tricked and plotted to be killed by his brothers with a well. The youngest son sneaks into his father’s kingdom and explains the situation. Everything returns normal again, the two older brothers are sentenced to death, and the fox , the princess’s brother, is released from his spell and is human again. The youngest son is now in line to become the next king.
  2. Every night a golden apple is robbed off the king’s apple tree. The king has his sons keep watch of the apple tree to see who the thief is. The youngest son sees the golden bird stealing the apple and tries to shoot it but only knocks one feather off. The feather is so valuable that the king decides that he wants the bird for himself. He sends his three sons after the bird one after another. The sons each meet the talking fox who gives them advice for their quest. The first two sons don’t obey the fox’s advice but the third son follows the fox’s advice. The fox takes the third son to the wooden cage and tells him to put the bird in it instead of the golden cage next to it. The son disobeys and the bird gets captured. The son was sent after the golden horse and the fox advises him to use the wood and leather saddle but the son uses the golden saddle instead. The son is sent after the princess and the fox advises him not to let her say fair well to her parents but the son disobeys again. The father orders the son to remove a large hill as the price of his life. The son works for while until the fox comes and removes it for him. When the son is free he comes to find that his brothers are to be hanged for their sins unless they buy their liberty. The other brother buys the brothers back and the fox tells the brother not to sit by a well and not to purchase gallows flesh. The brothers were so tired that they decide to rest by the well. Then the brothers pushed the youngest brother into the well.


Cultural and Historical Background:

The Golden Bird is a story from Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm. It was tale number 57 in the original publishing of the book. It is tale type 550 in the Aarne-Thompson index which is supernatural helpers. The brothers Grimm collected the tales from people in Germany while working as librarians at a university and studying law. Household Tales was published in 1812 which was at the end of Napoleon’s time. Many of these tales give a glimpse into life during the Holy Roman Empire which existed in and around Germany from 800 ad to 1806 ad.

Translated into English by Margaret Hunt in 1884. Country of origin was Germany.

History of German monarchies:

The office of Holy Roman Emperor was traditionally elective, although frequently controlled by dynasties. The German prince-electors, the highest-ranking noblemen of the empire, usually elected one of their peers as “King of the Romans”, and he would later be crowned emperor by the Pope; the tradition of papal coronations was discontinued in the 16th century. The empire never achieved the extent of political unification formed in France, evolving instead into a decentralized, limited elective monarchy composed of hundreds of sub-units: kingdoms, principalities, duchies, counties, Free Imperial Cities, and other domains.[9][18] The power of the emperor was limited, and while the various princes, lords, bishops, and cities of the empire were vassals who owed the emperor their allegiance, they also possessed an extent of privileges that gave them de facto independence within their territories. Emperor Francis II dissolved the empire on 6 August 1806, after the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine by Napoleon.

“Holy Roman Empire.” Wikipedia. April 22, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Roman_Empire.


Perform The Story:

We took turns reading the Golden Bird.


Close Readings:


Alex) I liked the story about the golden bird, by the Brothers Grimm. I thought some of it was confusing but after reading it a couple times it all made sense. I think this story has a lot of hidden advice in it but the one that I chose to focus on was the advice from the Fox.

I would argue that the Fox represented someone who is older and wiser like a father or mentor of some sort. The three sons all failed to obey the Fox’s advise and that obviously backfired on them. When I read through this story, I noticed a patterns of advise that the fox gives that is never respected. Just like the Fox, typically, elders know more about things than younger people but rarely do the younger people listen. I remember always getting advice from my parents but not always obeying them. In return I would find myself getting into some sort of trouble. The Fox seems to know everything about everything but the sons still don’t seem to catch on. Even after the youngest son doesn’t obey the fox and gets into trouble three times, the son still doesn’t listen when the Fox says not to sit by the well. Just like my dad, the fox would always continue to give the sons advice even when they wouldn’t listen. The Fox would also give then rides places and let them sit on his tail.


Michael) Analyses; I liked the story because it was not only an entertaining story but,  I can identify with the King and the Fox when I give my kids advice or instructions and they don’t listen or follow me. I would argue that the Golden Bird is a story which is really about following your parents or elders instructions to become well rounded adults handsomely rewarded with good paying jobs and wholesome families. Golden things are often used as the rewards in this story such as the golden apples and bird. Even the princess came from a golden Castle. The common theme is what happens when the youth listens to Fox. Either the youth listens and is rewarded or ignores the fox and is imprisoned. Since the youth is called a youth and the fox is his guide it would appear that this story is about following the advice of your elders. In Germany at this time the father was considered absolute ruler of the household and the children were expected to follow his instructions as law. Families were expected to be conservative minded with attention paid to religion and old fashioned family values. I think this fairy tale really helps to enforce those values and traditions so they can be passed down through a legacy. I also think that this story carried a message about wanting rich and showy belongings when they weren’t necessary. In the early 1800’s there was a lot of people who would surround themselves with decadence even when they didn’t really have the means to pay for it just because they wanted to feel like a lord or lady.


Austin) This story exemplifies that a path one takes to achieve his/her goal could be an unpopular and an undesirable one. For the youngest son, he goes through trials of near death experiences, not using golden things to make majestic creatures stand out, and disobeying the fox on multiple occasions to finally realize how he has to separate himself from his brothers if he wants to find the golden bird. He chooses the old, shabby, non-livable tavern to stay in instead of the nice clean enjoyable inn because he is good natured, and doesn’t seek only pleasure and riches in life. He cares about his brothers, his future with the kingdom, and ultimately, to not let his father down. The main motive for he youngest son in this fairy tale is to live a happy life not under his brothers’ cruelty, and to gain the trust from his father. He shows attributes and characteristics of becoming a great next king and is rewarded just that. He also cares about the fox and doesn’t want to kill the beast but eventually does and frees a man from his magical spell. The youngest son portrays a lost, but hopeful human being that is trying to find his place in the world and is one adventure away from securing a royal future.


Episode 8 – Puss in Boots


In this episode, group 5 discusses Charles Perrault’s take on “Puss in Boots.”

History of publishing and Oral History: By Mackenzie

The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots, is a fairytale by Charles Perrault and was published in 1697. Charles was a member of the  Académie Française. Through his upcoming as an intellectual in this organization he was able to produce a piece called, Parallels between the Ancients. This piece helped with the age of Enlightenment in Europe and allowed Europe to be open to fairytales. Perrault published very well known pieces in a book titles Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals: Tales of Mother Goose. However, he published the book under his son’s name, Pierre 1.  Even though the version of Puss in Boots that is most familiar today was written by Perrault, the orginal Puss in Boots story was a fable written by Giovanni Straparola 2.Perrault’s version is very similar to the original in a sense that he is still trying to help the youngest son. However, this version is the first version to feature the boots and an ogre. Also, Perrault’s version has the cat be a very sneaky and clever character which is then a common theme for many other stories such as, Jogeshwar’s Marriage3.



  1. Ashliman, D.L., “Charles Perrault’s Mother Goose Tales,” Pitt.edu, June 8, 2013. https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault.html.
  2. Vocelle, LA, “Orgins of the Story Puss in Boots,” The Great Cat. September 27, 2013. http://www.thegreatcat.org/origins-story-puss-boots/
  3. “Puss in Boots,” Pook Press, 2017. http://www.pookpress.co.uk/project/puss-in-boots/


Archetypes in Puss and Boots: By Michael Tobin


Several of the classic archetypes discussed in Jack Heckel’s analysis “Fairytale’s Most Wanted: The Five Most Common Character Types” are present in Charles Perrault’s Puss in Boots. While Heckel’s article presents us with a few of the most common archetypes, Jane Garry’s book “Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature: A Handbook” gives us a thorough analysis of important archetypes that Heckel’s analysis doesn’t cover.


The main characters in the fairy tale, the miller’s son (The Marquis of Carabas), the cat, the king and the king’s daughter, all fit archetypes that are brought up in the texts.


The cat in Puss and Boots is a classic example of a trickster archetype. According to Garry, trickster characters often take the form of animals, with some classic examples being coyotes, hares, ravens and spiders1. In their paper “Expert witness and Jungian archetypes”, Juan Antonio LaLlave and Thomas Gordon Gutheil say that the trickster takes the form as a hero or savior, victim or perpetrator, or as joker or fool in folklore2. In Puss and Boots, it is clear that the cat takes the role of the savior for the Marquis. Through establishing a rapport with the king, the cat is able to build credibility and make the rest of his explanations seems legitimate. The cat isn’t known for just tricking the king; he also outsmarts the ogre when he asks him to prove that he can turn into a mouse and then eats him.


The cat’s owner, the so called Marquis of Carabas, is unknowingly the charming prince. Heckel describes the charming prince archetype as “inevitably dashing and handsome,” and that young women will want to marry them shortly after meeting them3. In Puss and Boots, this is exactly what happened. Perrault describes the prince as “very handsome and well proportioned.” Once, he is dressed in the king’s robes, Perrault writes that the king’s daughter took interest in him and fell in love with him quite quickly. At the end of the story, the Marquis ends up marrying the king’s daughter.


The princess is a classic example of who Heckel describes as the “beautiful damsel.” Heckel says that all princesses are described as beautiful in fairytales, but few stories hyperbolically exaggerate their beauty3. Some stories, such as Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty choose to exaggerate the details. Puss in Boots gives the same description of the princess as those fairytales, as the king’s daughter is described as “the most beautiful princess in the world.”


The king is a great example of who Heckel calls the “guileless fool” archetype (OED:

guileless: devoid of guile. Guile: Insidious cunning, deceit, treachery4). Heckel says that this character is “marked by an uncommon lack of common sense, an honesty of spirit, and an almost preternatural luck.”3 The king is easily tricked into believing that the Marquis actually does own all of the land. Furthermore, it is expected that king’s should know what other rulers own land and that he would be able to see through the lies.




  1. Garry, Jane. Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature: A Handbook. Routledge, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.libproxy.uoregon.edu/lib/uoregon/detail.action?docID=302402.
  2. Lallave, Juan Antonio, and Thomas Gordon Gutheil. “Expert Witness and Jungian Archetypes.” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 35, no. 5-6 (2012): 456-63. doi:10.1016/j.ijlp.2012.09.012.
  3. Heckel, Jack. “Fairytale’s Most Wanted: The Five Most Well-Known Character Types.” Tor.com. March 24, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://www.tor.com/2014/08/22/fairytales-most-wanted-the-five-most-well-known-character-types/.
  4. “University of Oregon Libraries.” Login for Library Electronic Resources & Services – UO Libraries. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://www.oed.com.libproxy.uoregon.edu/view/Entry/82339?rskey=K8kWae&result=1#eid.



The story was written in 1600

In the story, the gifts the cat gives to the king were rabbits and partridges, taking presents in intervals for the king on behalf of his master.  Animals like rabbits and birds were considered high class food at the time of the story

Throughout the story, the cat tricks the king into thinking Lord Marquis of Carabas had lots of land, something that was also of great importance during this time and showed nobility

The cat tricks the King into buying Lord the Marquis of Carabas new suits, this shows the importance that fine clothing had during the time of this story.

At the end of the story, there are two poems that seem to present two morals of the story, “Be the advantage never so great, of owning a superb estate,” . At the time of this story, owning land, dressing nice, and having good manners were what one needed to achieve nobility or be seen as wealthy.  

Our society and culture today in a sense are similar.  Rather than bringing someone rabbits or partridges, if you take someone out to a nice dinner, that could be a sign of wealth and is used today as a way to form relationships.

In terms of being nobility or being someone of importance, I would say that dressing nicely and owning land are still the primary ways people see wealthy people.

It is hard to find a “good” moral for this story as the protagonist lies, cheats, and tricks people into getting what he wants.  Our primary use for fairy tales like Puss in Boots today is to convey morals to young children which is why the story has been adapted to have a clear “good” moral.


  1. “Puss in Boots.” Wikipedia. April 19, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puss_in_Boots.
  2. Tolovaj Publishing House. “Puss in Boots: A Story With a Questionable Moral.” Owlcation. February 17, 2017. Accessed April 24, 2018. https://owlcation.com/humanities/puss_in_boots.
  3. Acheson, Katherine O. Writing Essays about Literature: A Brief Guide for University and College Students. Peterborough: Broadview, 2011


Historical Background: By Shannon


Puss in Boots was first published by Perrault in his Histoires ou Contes du temps passe in 1697. Puss in Boots was originally published as The Master Cat. A different version of the story appears in Straparola’s Piacevole notti in the sixteenth century. The story was titled Constantino Fortunato. Scholars believe that Straparola’s story was derived from oral foklore. However, there is no evidence to validate this theory. Another author, Giambattista Basile created a similar trickster cat story in the seventeenth century. This story was titled Gagliuso. This tale was translated into Caglioso. This fairytale and trickster cat archetype has been circulating parts of Europe. More specifically, it has been circulating across Siberia, onward to India, Indonesia and the Philippines. The further the stories travel from Europe, the more variations the story takes on.



Heiner, Heidi. “History of Puss in Boots.” SurLaLune Fairy Tales: History of Puss in Boots, 7 July 2007, www.surlalunefairytales.com/pussboots/history.html.


Closed Readings




Do I like this story?

No I do not like this fairytale because at first the youngest son is given the worst inheritence from his father. The other two sons received things that will be able to help them thrive in the world and lead good lives while the young son describes his future as, “When I have eaten my cat and made a muff of his skin, I must die of hunger.” In the youngest son’s mind, the cat is good for nothing besides food but obviously one cat is not enough for the boy to stay full for forever. The cat decides to prove him wrong and through sneaky tricks is able to make the youngest son a prince. However, the cat does this without being asked and is never thanked. The only reward the cat receives is to eventually be a lord. I believe this story leads people to believe that great things can happen even if you do nothing for them. The cat did all of the work to make the son a prince and the son received all of the glory. I thought it was interesting that the son, who is now my Lord the Marquis of Carabas, did not question how he was somehow a Lord and that the peasents and reapers all say that they are upkeeping his property. He completely knows that this is not his property but without a blink of an eye he says, “As you say sire, for it is a meadow which yields an abundant crop every year.” Throughout the entire story the cat does everything while the son does nothing and I do not think that is a good message.


What words stood out to me?

A word that stood out to me was “Master.” Once custody of the cat was transferred to the son the cat automatically calls him master. Even though this story takes in a place that is not in your time or mine, I would not expect a normal cat to accept that someone is his master. Cats have a sense of entitlement and that they are above everyone else. However, in this story the cat will do anything for his master. As a dog person, I think this is something my dogs would be willing to do for me but never a cat. I think a cat would want to keep the animals it has captured for himself instead of bringing them to a king to help his master.

A phrase that stood out to me was “you shall all be cut into pieces as small as minced meat.” I believe this phrase is used because the people the cat is speaking to when this phrase is used against is people of a poor status. The first group that the cat says this to is peasents and the second group is reapers, which are people who harvest crops. I believe he uses the word meat because these people are worth nothing but they flesh and muscle their bodies have. Not only are they just meat, they are MINCED meat. I think the word minced was used to show that these people are too small to have any say in what is happening. The cat uses these words to belittle the peasents and reapers to make him do as his wants.

Also the number three stood out. This number is referenced three times. The first time is that there are three sons, the second time is when the cat brought animals to the king for two or three months, and the third time is when the son glances at the princess two or three times. Not only is three referenced it is referenced three times! In chinese culture it is believed that groups of 3 that contain the number three are extremely lucky! I believe this relates to the story because even though the cat is cleaver, lots of luck was required for him to pull everything off4.


What feelings does this fairytale give me?

I felt confused for most of the story. I do not understand why a king would want dead animals from a cat. As Michael described before, the king is a guileless fool. He lacks common sense and is willing to go with the flow. I can’t imagine a king would be so fond of a cat that brought him dead animals. He liked the cat so much that just because the cat said something he believed it to be true. This plays into the cats ability to trick him to believe the son is a Lord because he is able to sneak away to plan things so the son can look like he is a lord of great wealth. If the king had even a little common sense he would have most likely realized that something was strange.

I also felt upset because the cat has done so much for the son or, my lord Marquis of Carabas, and does not receive a thank you like I said earlier. Even though the cat probably only did these things so he would not be eaten, the cat went through a tremendous amount of work to make the son a prince. Thankfully, the son did provide the cat with supplies he needed in order to work his magic. However, I am rooting for the cat to accomplish everything he sets out to do. I think the cat is a very kind hearted character and just wants the best for his master, except when it comes to wanting to chop up people into minced meat, then he is not a very nice character but he is doing it out of the love for his master. The cat is even willing to go up to an ogre! The ogre scares him and for a second I thought the cat was going to be eaten when he turned into a lion. Thankfully, the cat was smart enough to play into the ogre’s ego and challenge him to turn into a mouse. The ogre accepted the challenge and the cat casually ate the mouse shaped ogre. Once the ogre was gone, the castle became his master’s. Even though the cat is not thanked, I am rooting for him throughout the whole story! I definitely would like him to be my cat.


Do I identify with any of the people represented?

I identify with the cat in a sense of wanting to help out others. I do like to help others even if I do not receive anything in return. I especially want to help those in their time of need. As an aspiring physical therapist, I want to help others and problem solve in order to think of a solution to help them in the best possible way. The cat is faced with multiple obstacles and with his sneaky personality is able to avoid the situation and continue on the path of making his master a prince. Even though I will help people more ethically than the cat, I do like that the cat is willing to put those he loves before himself. I may not do this all of the time but it is definitely something to strive for.


Is there anything about how it’s written that stands out?

I thought that it was interesting how clothes played such an important role in the story. Nothing of good fortune happened until the cat and his master were in desirable clothes.


What is the work about?

I think it is about putting others before yourself. Even though it is not betrayed in the best possible way because the cat does evil things to help his master.


What else is the work about?

According to the moral at the end of the story it is also about how you look. I do think that according to the story this moral is true but I do not agree with it.


  1. “Lucky Number Three, Meaning of the Number 3 in Chinese Culture,” Travel China Guide, 2018. https://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/lucky-number3.htm.




Do I like this story?

I hate to disagree too much with Mackenzie, but I did enjoy this story. I thought that it was about making the most of the circumstances you had and it’s saying that “I didn’t get the same thing as my siblings got, but I ended up in a better situation at the end.”  I thought the character development in the story was pretty good too because the cat is acting as the character who brings game to the king to build up credibility with him and he’s able to make something out of it. Doing something like that may be unethical by today’s standards, but I think it is an interesting story because it talks about how impressing people and appearing credible makes people believe anything. That’s pretty evident by the king.


Words that stood out to me:

The word that stood out to me was “poor.” We see it referenced in the beginning when the miller’s son, the Lord of Marquis, is referred to as a “poor fellow.” We could interpret this in a number of ways, such as material wealth or being in an unfavorable situation. Those terms collide and overlap. Like we were talking about in class, fairytales were for the working class and this may be a story about a poor person which just makes it more relatable to the origin of fairtyales.


What feelings does the story give me?

The story gives me the feeling of “fake it till you make it,” because that’s ultimately what the cat did. He was able to lie and lead the king on for the entire story and as a result the Marquis married into royalty and the cat became a lord. Like I said, it’s all dependent on the fact that the king was an idiot, but it still happened. The story gives me a sense that “confidence is key” because the cat was able to do this because the king was an idiot and manipulatable.


Do I identify with any of the people in this story?

I don’t identify with any of the characters in the story. I don’t lie to people to get ahead, like the cat did, and I also don’t think I am a bumbling idiot. I’m not like the king, the cat, the prince charming, and ertainly I’m not like the princess. Maybe I’m like the peasants who were mowing the lawns?


What is this work about?

I think this story is about using your wits and circumstances to outsmart people who are in power. As we see in this story, just because having a position of authority doesn’t inherently make someone smart. That idea is proven in this story because the king doesn’t even know that an ogre owns the land around him. A very contemporary example of that is just because you may be in the highest office of the land, does not make you an inherently smart person. This story is also using your wits to outsmart people. The cat is able to establish credibility with the king in order to say “If you believe me now you can believe me in the most absurd of circumstances” and that’s establishing credibility.



After reading Puss in Boots, I believe there isn’t a positive moral, rather that the story argues in favor of lying and deceit in order to get what you want. The cat tricks the King and Princess into believing his master is a Lord, tricks peasants into lying to the King, tricks the Ogre in order to eat him, and in the end has no repercussions for his actions. The cat carries out all these actions for which in the end he is not reprimanded for, instead he “became a great lord, and never again ran after mice, except for his amusement”.


Do I like the reading?

I enjoyed reading the story and thought it had all the makings of the stereotypical fairytale. There was a princess, magic, an animal helper that acts “fairy godmother”, and a protagonist.

I don’t think there is a clear positive moral present which is my only issue with the story, it seems to be a more negative message that promotes lying.


What words stand out?

The story was written in the 1600 so the language and the way it was written it has an old english style to it and uses phrases that aren’t common today.  Phrases like “muff”, “with a sedate and serious air”, and “little versed in the wiles of the world” were the phrases that stuck out most to me. ‘Muff’ is what we would call gloves today. After the cat overhears his masters discontent with getting stuck with just a cat, the cat tries to ease his masters worries and speaks with a ‘sedate and serious air’, perhaps to try and act confident and as if he has something to prove to his master. And when describing how the cat was waiting for a rabbit, Perrault says ‘little versed in the wiles of the world,’ a fancy way of saying innocent.  


What feelings does it give me?

This story gave me a sense of familiarity after I read it, the idea of a character getting a “bad” gift and then it actually turns out to be the best gift of them all. If the story had been released in today’s society, the ending would have been different and I think the cat and his master would have gotten in trouble for all the lying and deception they conducted. I was mad that this wasn’t the original outcome because I believe in hard work in order to get what you want and the master didn’t do anything and yet he still got the princess and all the things of a noble.  


Do I identify with any of the people represented?

In a way, I feel like I most identify with the cat.  Not in a lying and cheating life sort of way, but one could argue that the cat is just trying to prove himself worthy for his master and is trying to find a way to a better life than his current one.  In that sense, the need to prove myself and aspiring to put myself in a better position I relate. The cat goes to so many lengths to lie and trick people in order to prove himself as a “good” gift. I feel like i’m trying to do well in school and succeed academically to prove something to my friends and family.


What is the work about?

After reading this story, there are multiple things I think this story could be about.  It could be about someone, in this instance a cat, wanting to prove themself to the world, or it could be about the lengths people will go to for the people they love, or maybe just their master.  The cat is willing to lie, trick, and even eat people in order to make his master happy. This could either be a good thing, showing how loyalty is an important thing, or it could mock loyalty and show that someone can be loyal to a fault.




As we all know, Puss in Boots can be simplified as the story of a cat who uses trickery in order to gain power and wealth. Therefore, Puss in Boots can easily be tied to the classic “rags to riches” archetype. Another similar archetype is the “underdog” archetype. This archetype has always been popular in the United States. If anything, that’s the archetype that the us and our society really gravitate towards. Which is why the united states has its fair share of puss in boots adaptations. For instance, the adaptations of puss in boots that are present in shred 2 and shrek the third are most similar to the “underdog” archetype.


Returning to the “rags to riches” archetype, this archetype stood out while analyzing specific passages within Puss in Boots. It becomes evident that power and wealth are mentioned all throughout the fairytale. More specifically, I wanted to point out one quote in particular. The quote goes, “I have been told,” said the cat, “that you have the power of changing yourself into all kinds of animals; that you could, for instance, transform yourself into a lion or an elephant.” Looking more closely at the types of animals they chose to mention, the lion and the elephant demonstrates the riches aspect of rags to riches. For instance, the lion as an animal symbolizes strength, courage and leadership, while an elephant also symbolizes strength, in addition to power. These two animals demonstrate the type of person character’s within these archetypes strive to become.


Credits for sound effects and music:


All music and sounds were from freesound.org


Medieval Introduction – Tristan Lohengrin


Wagon arrives – dulcimerguy


Riviere-River – Glaneur de sons


Horses – vincentmalstaf