"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and the older still "The Story of the Three Bears" are two variations of a 19th-century fairy tale. The original tale tells of a badly-behaved old woman who enters the forest home of three bachelor bears whilst they are away. She sits in their chairs, eats some of their porridge, and sleeps in one of their beds. When the bears return and discover her, she starts up, jumps from the window, and is never seen again. The other major version brings Goldilocks to the tale (replacing the old woman), and an even later version retained Goldilocks, but has the three bachelor bears transformed into Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear. What was originally a frightening oral tale became a cozy family story with only a hint of menace. The story has elicited various interpretations and has been adapted to film, opera, and other media. "The Story of the Three Bears" is one of the most popular fairy tales in the English language.
1 Plot 2 Origins 3 Later variations: Goldilocks 4 Interpretations 5 Literary elements 6 Adaptations 7 See also 8 References
8.1 Citations 8.2 Sources
9 External links
Plot In Southey's tale, three anthropomorphic bears – "a little, small, wee bear, a middle-sized bear, and a great, huge bear" – live together in a house in the woods. Southey describes them as very good-natured, trusting, harmless, tidy, and hospitable. Each of these "bachelor" bears has his own porridge bowl, chair, and bed. One day they make porridge for breakfast, but it's too hot to eat, so they take a walk in the woods while their porridge cools. An old woman approaches the bears' house. As she has been sent out by her family, she is a disgrace to them. She is impudent, bad, foul-mouthed, ugly, dirty, and a vagrant deserving of a stint in the House of Correction. She looks through a window, peeps through the keyhole, and lifts the latch. Assured that no one is home, she walks in. The old woman eats the Wee Bear's porridge, then settles into his chair and breaks it. Prowling about, she finds the bears' beds and falls asleep in Wee Bear's bed. The dark end of the tale is reached when the bears return. Wee Bear finds his empty bowl, his broken chair, and the old woman in his bed and cries, "Somebody has been lying in my bed, and here she is!" The old woman wakes, jumps out the window and is never seen again. Origins
The story was first recorded in narrative form by British writer and
poet Robert Southey, and first published anonymously as "The Story of
the Three Bears" in 1837 in a volume of his writings called The
Doctor. The same year Southey's tale was published, the story was
versified by George Nicol who acknowledged the anonymous author of The
Doctor as "the great, original concocter" of the tale. Southey
was delighted with Nicol's effort to bring more exposure to the tale,
concerned children might overlook it in The Doctor. Nicol's version
was illustrated with engravings by B. Hart (after "C.J."), and was
reissued in 1848 with Southey identified as the story's author.
The story of the three bears was in circulation before the publication
of Southey's tale. In 1813, for example, Southey was telling the
story to friends, and in 1831 Eleanor Mure fashioned a handmade
booklet about the three bears and the old woman for her nephew Horace
Broke's birthday. Southey and Mure differ in details. Southey's
bears have porridge, but Mure's have milk; Southey's old woman has
no motive for entering the house, but Mure's old woman is piqued when
her courtesy visit is rebuffed; Southey's old woman runs away when
discovered, but Mure's old woman is impaled on the steeple of St
Folklorists Iona and
Peter Opie point out in The Classic Fairy Tales
(1999) that the tale has a "partial analogue" in "Snow White": the
lost princess enters the dwarfs' house, tastes their food, and falls
asleep in one of their beds. In a manner similar to the three bears,
the dwarfs cry, "Someone's been sitting in my chair!", "Someone's been
eating off my plate!", and "Someone's been sleeping in my bed!" The
Opies also point to similarities in a Norwegian tale about a princess
who takes refuge in a cave inhabited by three Russian princes dressed
in bearskins. She eats their food and hides under a bed.
"Scrapefoot" illustration by John D. Batten
Later variations: Goldilocks Twelve years after the publication of Southey's tale, Joseph Cundall transformed the antagonist from an ugly old woman to a pretty little girl in his Treasury of Pleasure Books for Young Children. He explained his reasons for doing so in a dedicatory letter to his children, dated November 1849, which was inserted at the beginning of the book:
The "Story of the Three Bears" is a very old Nursery Tale, but it was never so well told as by the great poet Southey, whose version I have (with permission) given you, only I have made the intruder a little girl instead of an old woman. This I did because I found that the tale is better known with Silver-Hair, and because there are so many other stories of old women.
Once the little girl entered the tale, she remained – suggesting
children prefer an attractive child in the story rather than an ugly
old woman. The juvenile antagonist saw a succession of names:
Silver Hair in the pantomime Harlequin and The Three Bears; or, Little
Silver Hair and the Fairies by J.B. Buckstone (1853); Silver-Locks in
Aunt Mavor's Nursery Tales (1858); Silverhair in George MacDonald's
"The Golden Key" (1867); Golden Hair in Aunt Friendly's Nursery Book
(ca. 1868); Silver-Hair and Goldenlocks at various times; Little
Golden-Hair (1889); and finally Goldilocks in Old Nursery Stories
and Rhymes (1904). Tatar credits
Flora Annie Steel
Goldilocks caught in Baby Bear's bed – by Leonard Leslie Brooke
Goldilocks's fate varies in the many retellings: in some versions, she
runs into the forest, in some she is almost eaten by the bears but her
mother rescues her, in some she vows to be a good child, and in some
she returns home. Whatever her fate, Goldilocks fares better than
Southey's vagrant old woman who, in his opinion, deserved a stint in
the House of Correction, and far better than Miss Mure's old woman who
is impaled upon a steeple in St Paul's church-yard.
Southey's all-male ursine trio has not been left untouched over the
years. The group was re-cast as Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear, but the
date of this change is disputed. Tatar indicates it occurred by
1852, while Katherine Briggs suggests the event occurred in 1878
with Mother Goose's Fairy Tales published by Routledge. With
the publication of the tale by "Aunt Fanny" in 1852, the bears became
a family in the illustrations to the tale but remained three bachelor
bears in the text.
In Dulcken's version of 1858, the two larger bears are brother and
sister, and friends to the little bear. This arrangement represents
the evolution of the ursine trio from the traditional three male bears
to a family of father, mother, and child. In a publication ca.
1860, the bears have become a family at last in both text and
illustrations: "the old papa bear, the mama bear, and the little boy
bear". In a
Illustration by John Batten, 1890
The Uses of Enchantment
Kurt Schwertsik's 35-minute opera Roald Dahl's Goldilocks premiered in
1997 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The opera's setting is the
Forest Assizes where Baby Bear stands accused of assaulting Miss
Goldie Locks. The tables are turned when the defence limns the trauma
suffered by the bears at the hands of that "brazen little crook",
Rooster Teeth Productions
Little Red Riding Hood
^ Elms 1977, p. 257
^ a b c Tatar 2002, p. 245
^ a b c d e Opie 1992, p. 199
^ Ober 1981, p. 47
^ a b Curry 1921, p. 65
^ Ober 1981, p. 48
^ Dorson 2001, p. 94
^ Ober 1981, pp. 2,10
^ Opie 1992, pp. 199–200
^ a b c d Opie 1992, p. 200
^ Ober 1981, p. xii
^ Ober 1981, p. x
^ Elms 1977, p. 259
^ a b c Briggs 2002, pp. 128–129
^ Quoted in: Ober 1981, p. ix
^ a b c Seal 2001, p. 91
^ a b c d Tatar 2002, p. 246
^ Ober 1981, p. 142
^ Ober 1981, p. 178
^ Ober 1981, p. 190
^ Tatar 2002, p. 251
^ a b Elms 1977, p. 264
^ a b c Schultz 2005, p. 93
^ Booker 2005, pp. 229–32
^ Roald Dahl's Goldilocks
^ Webb, Charles (1 June 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Rooster Teeth's 'RWBY'
Yellow Trailer". MTV. Archived from the original on 9 June 2013.
Retrieved 10 June 2013.
^ Rush, Amanda (12 July 2013). "FEATURE: Inside Rooster Teeth's
"RWBY"". Crunchyroll. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
^ Friedman, Amy; Johnson, Meredith (25 January 2015). "Goldilocks Eats
Grits". Universal Uclick. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
The Seven Basic Plots. Booker, Christopher (2005). "The Rule of Three". The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-5209-4. Briggs, Katherine Mary (2002) . British Folk Tales and Legends. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28602-6. "Coronet: Goldilocks and the Three Bears". Internet Archive. Retrieved 21 February 2009. Curry, Charles Madison (1921). Children's Literature. Rand McNally & Company. "Disney: Goldilocks and the Three Bears". The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts. Retrieved 21 February 2009. Dorson, Richard Mercer (2001) . The British Folklorists. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-20426-7. Elms, Alan C. (July–September 1977). ""The Three Bears": Four Interpretations". The Journal of American Folklore. 90 (357). JSTOR 539519. "MGM: Goldilocks and the Three Bears". Retrieved 12 November 2010. Ober, Warren U. (1981). The Story of the Three Bears. Scholars Facsimiles & Reprints. ISBN 0-8201-1362-X. Opie, Iona; Opie, Peter (1992) . The Classic Fairy Tales. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211559-6. "Roald Dahl's Goldilocks (1997)". Retrieved 3 January 2009. Schultz, William Todd (2005). Handbook of Psychobiography. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516827-5. Seal, Graham (2001). Encyclopedia of Folk Heroes. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-216-9. Tatar, Maria (2002). The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-05163-3.
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