Fairy tales have been adapted time and time again. Variations of everything exist nowadays. However, when it comes to adaptions of Bluebeard, by Charles Perrault, it’s interesting to see the similarities and differences. Using the tales Fitcher’s Bird and The Robber Bridegroom, we can easily compare the three versions. In each of the three tales, a woman meets a man who turns out to be something he’s not and all nearly die due to curiosity; however, the types of motifs in each of the tales differ, and the exact plot or characters vary slightly.
Looking to the similarities, we see at the start of each tale that a man is seeking the love of a beautiful woman. In Bluebeard, there was a very rich man who wanted to win the hand of a woman. “But the poor fellow had a blue beard, and this made him so ugly and frightful that there was not a woman or girl who did not run away at sight of him” (Bluebeard, Charles Perrault). In Fitcher’s Bird, it’s a sorcerer who can make women love him with a single touch instead. In The Robber Bridegroom, a princess was betrothed to a prince in the woods that she hadn’t even met. So far, while each of the characters is a little different, each tale still has a man seeking a woman’s love. Then, moving on in the tales slightly, we see that the women all go to the men’s houses. In these houses, the women all discover a secret about their respective men. In Bluebird, the woman, being curious, opens a door and finds dead bodies of other women. In Fitcher’s Bird, the woman finds the two dismembered bodies of her sisters in a room in the house. In The Robber Bridegroom, the princess finds an old woman who tells her that the prince is actually a robber and plans to eat her, as well as witnessing a murder. Thus, in all three of the tales, the women, due to their curious nature, find something they didn’t want to find. Lastly, in all three tales, the man dies for his crimes. In Bluebeard, he is executed by the woman’s brothers. In Fitcher’s Bird, he is burned alive. In The Robber’s Bridegroom, guards take him away and execute him.
However, despite all the similarities, there are numerous differences in these tales. For example, Bluebeard includes a task that singles out the woman’s curiosity – a request for her not to open the door in the house using the smallest key. By choosing to give into her temptation and curiosity, she finds the horrible truth and is condemned to death by the man. In Fitcher’s Bird, the woman instead must protect an egg that is cursed so that blood will stain it permanently; by protecting the egg by discarding it, she gave into her temptation as well. However, it is much different from a little key. In The Robber Bridegroom, there isn’t even a task. The woman simply happens to come by the house around the time that the prince comes with his latest kill. Another key difference is the motifs in each tale. In the Perrault tale, there is a lot of Christian imagery where the woman says she is praying to buy herself time. This Christian imagery does not appear in the other tales. Also, the way the woman gets out of the situation varies in each. In Bluebeard, she simply prays and asks her sister if her brothers are coming yet. In The Robber Bridegroom, she tells what happened to everyone as though it’s a story, but then produces the ripped off finger that she found on the body the prince killed. In Fitcher’s Bird, she saved her killed sisters by connecting their body parts and then had the man take them to the castle without him knowing. They warned the guards and eventually she was saved and the man was burned alive. Needless to say, each of the tales have their similarities and differences.
Personally, I preferred the tale Fitcher’s Bird. It seemed to be the most fairy tale like story of them. It captured my interest and was kept unique by the usage of the egg instead of the key, or by the sisters coming back to life by putting their limbs back together. I did not like Bluebeard. Perrault has the tendency to use too much fancy language, forcing the reader to wade through the worst kind of purple prose. While description is a key part to storytelling, too much description in a fairy tale seems to deviate from the actual format of fairy tales and moves more to an actual story.
Tales used: Bluebeard, by Charles Perrault; Fitcher’s Bird, by the Brothers Grimm; The Robber Bridegroom, by the Brothers Grimm.