Fairy tales have been retold and rewritten many times throughout history, and each author puts their own spin on the original story. “Bluebeard” is a story with many different versions, each with its own unique characteristics and style. A commonly known “Bluebeard” story written by Charles Perrault is interesting to compare to a version written by Donald Barthelme because the content in each seems so different from one another, but when examined more closely, the two actually have similarities. In comparison to Perrault’s version of “Bluebeard”, Barthelme’s more recent story incorporates a similar basic plot line and uses the same adult themes, however, through modernizing the story, he ultimately revises our understanding of the fairy tale genre itself.These two versions of “Bluebeard” follow the same plot line: a rich husband showers his wife with gifts, but then forbids her to enter one certain room, leaving a mystery as to what lies behind the door. Perrault’s version begins with two sisters, both of whom have no interest in a man named Bluebeard. To impress the women, Bluebeard throws a long party, after which the younger sister falls for him, and the two get married. Before he leaves for a trip, he tells her she can explore anywhere she wants in their house except for the small closet. He then gives her a key to the closet and leaves. The wife’s temptation gets the best of her, and she enters the forbidden closet only to find bloody dead bodies of all of Bluebeard ex-wives. Her husband finds the blood on the key when he returns, threatens to kill her, but she quickly gets help from her sister to alert her two brothers, who make it just in time to save her. Barthelme’s version begins differently, as Bluebeard is a…
…an it first appears, for when looking at the stories closely, the once drastic changes suddenly don’t seem so drastic anymore. This idea that changes made in our own lives may not end up being much different from the past at all is a common universal experience. While in our own lives we may seem to be experiencing things that are entirely new, we are really just going on the same path as before. The saying “history repeats itself” isn’t just an expressions, but a commonly occurring principle, even in fairy tales.
Barthelme, Donald. “Bluebeard.” The New Yorker 16 June 1986: 32-35. Print.Byatt, A. S. “Happy Ever After.” The Guardian 3 Jan. 2004, Culture sec. Web.Tolkien, J. R. R. “On Fairy-Stories.” Web.Warner, Marina. “Bluebeard’s Brides: The Dream of the Blue Chamber.” Grand Street. 1st ed. Vol. 9. Ben Sonnenberg, 1989. 121-30. Print.