Welcome to the first posting of the FTBC. And today we’ll start with The Goose Girl.
Fairy tales are something we keep discovering. I know I am. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised when I read a new story. This was not one of those times.
The Goose Girl, one of the many stories from the brothers Grimm, is about a much-loved princess who is sent to a far-off land to wed a prince. She’s send with a servant, who decides she doesn’t want to be a servant anymore and refuses to help the princess in any way. By the time they reach the prince’s castle, the princess is a disheveled mess. What’s more, the servant says she’s the princess. She has the real princess sent to be a servant and for good measure makes sure the real princess’ horse has his head lopped off because it can talk and will likely spill the beans.
So the real princess becomes a goose girl, helping the goose boy herd geese in the fields. She never says a word even though the goose boy tries to touch her hair, the horse still speaks (it’s head it mounted over an entranceway), and she’s generally miserable. The king finally notices and long story short (I know, too late) everything is fixed ala Gilbert and Sullivan.
Forgetting for a moment that the real princess is sent off to meet her new prince with just a servant and a talking horse for company, this story is truly disturbing. The moral of the story is to stay meek and silent and then good things will come to you. The servant, who wanted more for herself is obviously the villain (equicide aside) because she speaks up. I’ll admit there is a time for silence, but this story borders on martyrdom. A chilling thing to teach a girl.
But this blog is about finding insight in generally arcane stories for a modern reader. I want to say, if you’re ever in a jam make sure you have a talking horse, but I imagine horses are judgmental and who needs the running commentary on a long ride? No, I think the best thing we can take away from this story is a cautionary tale. If you don’t speak up, you may end up in situations best avoided. We can’t all have kings and horses watching our backs!
So what do you think?
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Next Month’s FTBC reading: The Fairy by Charles Perrault