Friday, May 2, 2014

Original Fairy Tales: Blue Beard by Charles Perrault (nonspoiler and spoiler included)

I partiticipate in Project Disney from time to time. As you know Project Disney covers the original novels or fairy tales the became Disney movies, but every so often I like to read fairy tales that have not yet became Disney movies so that is when this feature will come in handy. This feature covers original stories by  Grimm, Hans Christina Anderseon, etc that have not been made into Disney movies. If there is a movie that I can find based on the tale I will review that also.

My friend Deb from Debz Bookself loves the fairy tale of Bluebeard. She reads every retelling she can get her hands on. I have to admit I didn't know too much about the story. There was a retelling in the book I just finished Swan Sisters by Ellen Datlow. The book is a book of short fairy tales and one of them is a retelling of Bluebeard. Although the story was short it got me interested in reading the original Charles Perrault version of Bluebeard. I will do a nonspoiler and spoiler section of this as always I do not have any film to compare to today.

Book: Bluebeard
Author: Charles Perrault
Publication: 1697
Source: Project Gutenberg or Read it Here
Read: April 29th, 2014
Summary (from Goodreads):

Blue beard is a French literary folktale written by Charles Perrault. The tale tells the story of a violent nobleman in the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of one wife to avoid the fate of her predecessors.

My Thoughts (spoiler free):

As with most of original fairy tales I will have to make this review short for there is not much I can say without spoiling.

As normal there is always an aching questions in fairy tales that are never answer. Why did bluebeard feel the need to kill his wives? is always one that comes to mind for me. As usual there is little character development. Sure we get the point that Bluebeard is a mean man. Sure we get the point that the wife is oblivious to her husband's cruelty. The wife's sister has a name, but the wife herself remains nameless and we get little about her feelings for her husband although she does admire his riches.

There is always room for more in fairy tales. The ending of Bluebeard has little lead up and is very quick ending. There is little explaination to the characters motive and before you can blink the story is over.

I recommend reading Bluebeard, only a few short pages, but quite a story.

*Spoiler Section*

The story begins with the tale of two sisters. Bluebeard makes a bargain with their mother that he is to marry one of her daughters. Neither daughter wants to marry a man with such a hideous blue beard. To further increase their disdain, Bluebeard already had several wives. They all disappear and nobody knows what ever happened to them.

Bluebeard took the mother, her daugthers, and a few of their friends on a vacation for the week. While on their vacation they played merry games and though no specific romantic relationship really formed. The youngest daughter begun to warm up to Bluebeard discovering he was a worthy man. Upon their return they were married.

After their marriage Bluebeard announced that he must go on a journey that will last 6 weeks. He gives her the keys to his house and tells her to entertain herself while he is gone by inviting over her friends and family. Bluebeard explains
Credit (this one has lots of Bluebeard Artwork)
each key to the wife and he peeks her interest when he announces that she is not allowed to use the small key. For he will have his wrath if she is to enter that closet. (Of course he could of just not gave her the key, but this was a trust exercise).

The wife's friends and family arrive as soon as Bluebeard leaves. The wife loves Bluebeard's riches, but she is curious about what is behind the forbidden door. The phrase curiosity killed the cat comes to mind. The wife is extremely rude and is so curious for the closet that she leaves her guests to find out. She opens the door to find the heads of several wives and the floor covered with blood. She gasps in shock and drops the key. Once she has regained her composure she picks up the key covered with blood. As hard as she tries to clean the key the blood will not come off for the key is enchanted and once one side is clean the other side is filled. The wife hides the key.

Bluebeard returns early and the next day asks for his keys back. The wife gives him all the keys besides the one for the closet. Bluebeard is quick to notice that the key is missing. The wife retrieves it for him. Then Bluebeard questions his wife as to why it is covered with blood. She replies I do not know, innocently. Bluebeard tells his wife that for disobeying him she will prepare to reside with the other

She begs for mercy and when there is none to be had asks for time to pray. Upstairs she calls to her sister, Anne. Tell my brothers to come to me. She calls to Anne several times that day from her tower. Do you see anybody coming? Several time the answer is no. The quarter of an hour is up and Bluebeard is growing impatient with his wife. Finally when she can see that her brothers are close and she can not delay her death no longer she mounts the stairs. As Bluebeard is about to kill her, her brothers burst through the door and kill Bluebeard.

With no heir's Bluebeard's wife takes over his fortune. She gives some of it to her sister Anne so that she can married to a handsome gentlemen she had loved long ago. She bought Captain's Commissions for her two brothers. And with the rest of the fortune married herself to a worthy man. She would never forget her miserable days with Blue Beard.

As I mentioned above I don't quite understand why Blue Beard felt the need to kills his wives. The
second, third, and so on are explainable because he can't have his secret about the dead wife in the basement getting out to the townsfolk's, but why did he feel the need to murder his first wife? Blue Beard was a very disturbing man in the fact that he kept all the dead bodies.

Overall this story is very interesting and I see why Disney or any other movie making company has not made a movie on Blue Beard. I don't think there is a way to make this story, lighter or more cheerful. The husband kills his wives for no apparent reason.

Have you read Blue Beard? What did you think? What original fairy tale would you like me to cover next?

*As per usual I do not own any of the artwork showcased in this post. If there is picture that you do not want to be featured on this blog or the credit wrong shoot me an email and I will get it taken down or fixed immediately. I did not want to feature too much artwork for this post because it is all very creepy.*

Deviant Artists Queens RevengeMifti Stock and Sed Rah .Hosted by The Book Rat and A Backwards Story
This will be one of my last posts for Fairy Tale Fortnight. I did not get as much up as I wanted to during the event, but I enjoyed myself immensely and will be excited for the event to come back again next year. My TBR pile needs a break from all this fairy tale madness. I need the year just to get my TBR pile back to a manageable level. 


  1. Did you see that there is going to be a Bluebeard show on NBC starting May 30th???? I think I will watch it to see if it's any good. I like this feature!

    1. Thanks for the heads up Angela. I totally didn't know. I like doing this feature. It helps me to read the fairy tales I don't read for project disney although I'm still working on accomplish them also.

  2. Would love the "truth" behind Hansel and Gretel.

    This story to me seems that Perrault was perhaps inspired, or influenced, by the legends pertaining to Henry VIII's wives' fates...?

    1. That does sound interesting. I haven't read Hansel and Gretel yet.


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