A few weeks ago, a friend and I watched Jack the Giant Slayer, which combined the titular tale with Jack and the Beanstalk. A couple days ago, I watched Mirror, Mirror, which is a modern retelling of Snow White. Between the two, I’ve become rather fascinated with going back and seeing the origins of the folk/fairy tales we know so well today, and studying how they’ve changed over generations.
To start with, I’m looking into Snow White. I would like to write a more in-depth look at the history of that particular story, but for now, I’m just going to focus on a particular passage that sounds a lot like a passage from a completely different tale. The passage in question is in the original 1812 and 1857 versions written by the Brothers Grimm, but I guess I just didn’t remember it, or maybe it was removed in the adaptations I read. However, in 1916, Joseph Jacobs wrote his own version of the story for his Europa’s Fairy Book, in which he removes the space from Snow White’s name and cuts the number of dwarves from seven down to three. Oh, yes, and Snow White is seven years old in all three versions.
This results in the following (taken from a Google Books scan):
Snowwhite wandered on and on till she got through the forest and came to a mountain hut and knocked at the door, but she got no reply. She was so tired that she lifted up the latch and walked in, and there she saw three little beds and three little chairs and three little cupboards all ready for use. And she went up to the first bed and lay down upon it, but it was so hard that she couldn’t rest; and then she went up to the second bed and lay down upon that, but that was so soft that she got too hot and couldn’t go to sleep. So she tried the third bed, but that was neither too hard nor too soft, but suited her exactly; and she fell asleep there.
In the evening the owners of the hut, who were three little dwarves who earned their living by digging coal in the hills, came back to their home. And when they came in, after they had washed themselves, they went to their beds, and the first of them said: “Somebody has been sleeping in my bed!”
And then the second one said: “And somebody’s been sleeping in my bed!”
And the third one called out in a shrill voice, for he was so excited: “Somebody is sleeping in my bed, just look how beautiful she is!”
Doesn’t that sound just like the three bears finding Goldilocks in the baby bear’s bed? Even right down to the “shrill voice”.
Now I need to go research the history of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.