Happy 388th Birthday Charles Perrault

charles perrault cinderella

Happy 388th Birthday Charles Perrault

Who was Charles Perrault?

Charles Perrault, Paris author, was born in 1628, 388 years ago and was commemorated with a Google Doodle today, January 12, 2016.

Mr. Perrault was a lawyer before becoming to an author, leaving behind a legacy of many children’s stories but are they as they appear to be or is there a much more sinister side to the stories written by Charles Perrault.

charles perrault

Charles Perrault (1628-1703)

The Brothers Grimm are given most of the credit for creating the fairy tales as we know them but it was Charles Perrault who actually wrote tales called Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), La Belle Au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty) and Cendrillon (Cinderella), 200 years before.

At age 67, Mr. Perrault wrote “Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals”, which contained a series of moral tales to make the reader think about the problems presented to the protagonist, created from well-known folklore from the time period.

In this book, one such story known now as “Mother Goose”, was included with other titles we would know now such as “Puss In Boots”, “Blue Beard” and “Cinderella, with some lesser stories including, “Little Thumb” and “Ricky of the Tuft”.

Puss in Boots Charles Perrault

This book enjoyed much success and was translated into English in 1729 by Robert Samber.

These fairy tales were NOT written for children.

Charles Perrault didn’t write the stories for children and included many grisly details that we do not speak about today. If parents knew the real story, as it was written, they may think twice about reading “Sleeping Beauty” to their children.

“Little Red Riding Hood”, is not about a real “wolf” but a “man” who hunts young girls alone in the woods.

In fact, Charles Perrault went into detail about why he wrote the story the way he did and what he hoped others may get out of it.

“From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, And it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby provided with his dinner,”  Charles Perrault said.

“I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition – neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!”

In other words, he warned, that not every stranger is good and kind and that the “wolf” may lurk outside or inside your home.  Kind of a pre-warning to staying away from strangers that we tell our children even today.

Charles Perrault Writings:

  1. La belle au bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood)
  2. Le petit chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood)
  3. La Barbe bleüe (Blue Beard)
  4. Le Maistre Chat, ou le Chat Botté (The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots)
  5. Les Fées (The Fairies)
  6. Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre (Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper)
  7. Riquet à la Houppe (Ricky of the Tuft)
  8. Le petit Pouçet (Little Thumb)

Sleeping Beauty

The story we know today as “Sleeping Beauty” is not based solely on Charles Perrault’s version but rather several versions.  For instance, Charles Perrault’s tale was based on a 14th century story and the Grimm Brother’s “Briar Rose” was based more on an oral version of Charles Perrault.

The story was further tamed by Walt Disney in the 1959 release of “Sleeping Beauty” and the darkness was swept away. In the release, Princess Aurora, her three fairy godmothers, and the evil fairy Maleficent, who used an enchanted spindle to put Princess Aurora into a deep sleep.

A more truer, darker film version of “Sleeping Beauty” was released in 2011 by director Julia Leigh. In Ms. Leigh’s depiction, the story went back to the truer, Charles Perrault, writing which saw Emily Browning playing a student in need of funds who takes a job at a brothel. In this version, she removes her clothing and is drugged until she doesn’t care how many old naked men pay to climb on top of her to do their wicked deeds.

 Maleficent

charles perrault maleficentAngelina Jolie at a photocall for ‘Maleficent’, in London in 2014  Photo: David Fisher/REX

Maleficent received her own movie and was played by Angelina Jolie in 2014. The story begins with Maleficent throwing a full on rage filled temper tantrum at Princess Aurora’s christening and then spends her time trying to make up for it.

Bluebeard

Bluebeard, one of Charles Perrault’s best known works, was adapted into a movie in 1901 with a storyline of a maniac aristocrat who has a very nasty habit of murdering his young wives and how one of those wives tried to avoid meeting the same fate as the others.

Bluebeard made another appearance on film in 2010, by Catherine Breillat, French novelist and director and starring Dominique Thomas as Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard).

Who was Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard”?

He was a rich man who no one would associate with because they feared, what they deemed, was his ugly, blue beard. No one is quite sure how many wives he had as no one knew what happened to them once they became his wife. They were never seen again. Bluebeard didn’t choose local girls but, rather, girls who lived in other villages. He decided to break away from his usual ways to ask a neighbour (yes with a u as I’m Canadian) to allow one of his two daughters. Each girl doesn’t want to be married to him and tries to pass him on to the other. He is able to hide his evil intention when he talks one of the young daughters into visiting him. He is able to build trust up after a great meal to get her to agree to be his wife. A wedding is planned and when it’s done, the young wife goes off to live with Bluebeard in his castle.

In had only been a very short while when Bluebeard left the country and gives all the keys of the house to his new young wife, making sure to tell her they open the doors to rooms which contain his many treasures. Bluebeard encourages his young bride to use the keys as she wants and to enjoy the castle while he is away. There is one key, however, that she is not to open. They key opens a small room beneath the castle and she is told not to enter this room under any circumstances. The young bride swears to Bluebeard that she will not enter the room. Once gone, however, her curiosity builds to see the forbidden room and the treasure it holds. Not even the warnings of her sister, Anne, stops her during a party, to go beneath the castle and open the door. What she see’s is nightmarish.

The room was filled with murdered bodies of unfortunate young past wives, hanging from hooks on walls. The floor of the evil room was flooded with human blood.  Bluebeard’s young bride, dropped the key into the blood and ran. She tries to wash the blood off but the blood will not come clean. The story is horrifically recited to Ann and they both plan to leave the castle, for fear of becoming the next victims, but Bluebeard comes home without notice the next morning, see’s the blood stained key and knows that his his new wife has broken her word. Bluebeard flies into a rage and threatens to decapitate his young wife but she ask for 15 minutes to say her prayers. When Bluebeard is gone, she takes Ann and locks them in the highest tower. Bluebeard tries to break down the door using his sword. Inside the two sisters wait for their two brothers to arrive and save them. At the very last moment, the two borthers appear and kill Bluebeard as he tries to escape. Bluebeard leaves behind no heirs but his wife who inherits all his wealth and the bloody castle. She has the bodies of Bluebeard’s unfortunate wives and then uses part of the treasure to marry off her sister, another part for her brother’ “captains” commissions, and used the rest to marry a man who helps her forget the horrific encounters with Bluebeard.

Not everything is as it seems so it’s best to dig a little deeper to see if there really is a hidden meaning to that fairytale you are reading tonight. Have a super day!

 

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