In the process of writing the last few posts, I find my mind returning again and again to “The Story of Mr. Fox” and “The Sweetheart in the Wood,” unconsciously conflating some details, and wondering: What made her take that severed hand, when she herself was in mortal danger? What was it like, to walk home alone through the forest carrying that lump of flesh? Where was it kept between then and the dinner party? And this is what came of those wonderings.
Click here to read Part 2: “Stubborn Bloodstains and Magic Cats” My previous post introduced the “tell-tales” of guilt that appear in ATU tale types 311, 312 and 955. I focused on unwashable bloodstains that revealed wives’ trespasses in the forbidden bloody chamber. In contrast, the tell-tale object in “The Robber Bridegroom” is a severed hand […]
If we learn anything from tales like “Bluebeard” and “How the Devil Married Three Sisters,” it’s that the real crime is not disobedience or even murder–it’s lack of caution. After all, the only reason anyone in those stories got caught–both the women and their homicidal husbands–wasn’t stellar detective work, but their own carelessness in tracking blood around or giving people access to their murder-room.
What I like best about this tale–besides, you know, all the killing and trickery it involves–is that there are so many tales featuring murderous suitors brought to justice.