- Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
- Hello, and welcome to my blog! I like to write about children's literature, fairy tales, feminism, and pop culture in general. I've recently earned my Ph.D. in children's literature at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I also review children's and young adult books for Kirkus and teach English at Sowela Technical Community College. Oh, and I like cats! [Banner image artwork by Yuki Midorikawa]
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Bluebeard, the ultimate ladykiller
Is Bluebeard not the most terrifying fairytale out there?
Apparently, it's been made into a movie. French director Catherine Breillat says that the tale's most horrifying aspect is that its monster, it's male "ogre" figure, isn't an ogre at all but an actual man. I like that Breillat's heroine is only 14 years old. "Bluebeard," like so many of the French tales, is a marriage tale, similar to my personal favorite, "Beauty and the Beast," only sans the happy ending. The beast aspect in "Beauty and the Beast" is just the way I like it: in the literal sense. The Beast is a big hairy monster with messy habits and a booming voice (forgive me if I mix Beaumont's version with Disney's; it's been awhile since I've read or seen either one). But once he falls for Beauty, he not only cleans up his ways, but he also transforms back into a man: a handsome man, a genteel man, and a proper husband for Beauty.
Bluebeard is not a proper husband for any girl. But he was the husband that many girls were given (or given to). Sadly, that kind of thing does still go in this world. Just the other day I heard a story on NPR about a 9 year old girl in Yemen who was sold by her father to another man in marriage. Her new "husband" brought her home and raped her while she screamed, her new "family" still in the house, apparently unconcerned. She's ten now, and was able to secure a divorce. Here's the original story: LINK. Supposedly, 1 in 4 girls in Yemen becomes a child bride.
I wonder if Breillat was thinking about these girls when she filmed her new movie. In the NYT's article, Breillat claims the fairytale has been her favorite since she was a girl. I have to wonder about a little girl whose favorite fairytale is something like Bluebeard. I'm kidding, of course. When I was little, my favorite tale to read was about an old woman and a talking bone. The penultimate line in the tale made both my sister and me scream like banshees -- and we loved it.
Today, I find stories like Bluebeard terrifying. I never had to fear becoming a child bride. But sometimes the "threat" of marriage, even contemporary marriage, is daunting to a girl, particularly those girls who had poor male role models growing up or who fear a loss of grown-up independence. We're far past the days when women stayed home and balanced the check book for a living .... Aren't we?
Addendum: And I just discovered it's to be made into a movie yet again. Here's the IMDb entry: LINK. I don't know much more about it, though, nor does anybody else seem to.
*Artwork is by Matt Mahurin