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Analysis of the
The son however in twelve years time has grown to be very clever, and so he has himself blessed by a priest then he goes with his father and draws a circle around them so that the dwarf may not reach them. Notice at this point that the son uses both the blessing of the Christian God and certain paganistic rituals to keep himself safe. It is this opposition of forces that makes fairy tales so interesting, for like all people the people who told these stories found themselves the subject of so many transitions over which they had little control, by using both ideas both stages the boy is able to negotiate with the creature and protect himself from whatever it had planned. However in doing so the boy is set adrift, literally in a boat leaving his father and the dwarf behind.
The boat then appears to sink and so the father believes that his son has died, however the boy survives and becomes the main character of the fairy tale at this point. This is another common aspect of fairy tales with the story starting with the father, or mother as the primary character, before passing on to their child. As with life the stories theme passes from one generation to the other.
The boy after drifting away from his father comes to a cursed castle, where a maiden within has been turned into a snake, and all other life is missing from the place. The maiden begs the boy to free her from the curse. This requires that the boy endure torture and pain, and even death. On doing this she brings him to life and they are married. The enduring of torments to free another in fairy tales is common, as with life much is required for marriage, and of course we all like to think that those we love would be willing to endure such pain for us. The romance of such love in these cases is indicated in part by the pain endured for them. Further by having the boy endure such pain to free a people, we the audience come to know his character even more, not only is he brilliant but he is brave and self sacrificing as well. Now we understand that he is a true hero.
Having been set up as a great hero the boy is now set for a fall and another adventure to rescue his wife and the child he has with her. For as years pass he misses his father and uses a magical ring to visit him. His wife tells him under no circumstances to use the ring to try to bring her to meet his father.
On getting home the boy is forced to exchange cloths with a shepherd for the guards do not trust his strange garments. Such an exchange does two things, first it shows the generosity of the father, who in thinking that his son is a poor stranger provides him with food. Second it is conceivable that it shows the earlier organs of the story, for a land which is reached by a ship that appeared to sink, and is left by aid of a magical ring is likely a fairy land.
As they sit together the son tells his father his story, but the father does not believe it, thinking that his sons rags are a result of his poverty. Wishing to prove his success the son brings his wife to him. She cries and reproaches him for this, but he tells her all is well. However as he sleeps, she takes the ring and disappears back to her kingdom leaving the boy alone, with only one of her slippers as a token of their existence. To disobey ones fairy wife will always result in her leaving.
As the boy tries to return home he comes to three giants who are arguing how to divide their inheritance. They ask him to help, the items in question are a magical sword, an invisibility cloak, and boots with teleport the wearer where he wishes to go. The boys magical nature at this point is shown for he changes himself into a fly on putting on the invisibility cloak. It is interesting that there is no purpose for this event in the current story, this makes one wonder how this story or the stories which this came from where altered over the years. However the act of changing into a fly does of course confirm that the boy is a wizard now, and perhaps explains the dwarves interest in the boy earlier in the story.
One anticipates that the boy would cut the giants heads off on getting the sword in order to get the boots however the boy is a hero character and so he does not. However on getting the boots he thinks of his family and teleports home. This is made to be more an act of love then a malicious theft, and so helps to keep the boy firmly implanted as good. This is important for on returning home he finds his wife getting married to another, so he puts on the invisibility cloak and steals her food at the wedding feast so that she can get none of it. She flees to her chamber thinking she is being tormented by the devil, and he follows and hits her for betraying his love. Then he runs crying to the guests, telling them to leave for this is his home and his family. They however attempt to attack him, but he uses the sword to slay them all.
Its interesting to note that his wife was attempting to remarry without him, and that this is one of the few such stories like this, that does not end with the wife leaving. Again one cannot be certain what parts where tagged on from other stories in order to complete this one, it is quite possible that the original did indeed end with the wife leaving, and that the return home with magical items is a separate story. Such story mashes are of course common, sadly we cannot know for certain that they happened in this case, and must determine the meaning and purpose of the story both with as will as without such assumptions. In either case it would seem that the meaning appears to be that no women should leave her husband, the question of whether this is a tag on to another story if answered would help to show whether or not this was a newer form of thinking or if it was something that had remained constant.