Thursday, 12 April 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Black Forest (Sweden)


Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

This week is a very short summary of a popular Swedish song entitled Jungfrun i Blaskagen (Black Forest). It supposedly appears in Folkeviser, 3. 68, 69, but I can not find this source or any lyrics for the song.

I almost didn’t include it as it is just a wisp of a fragment, but something about the summary compelled me. To me, it harked back to the moralistic “don’t stray from the path” original versions of Little Red Riding Hood, but with a darker, sexual element such as the one by French writer Charles Perrault. His version is just a metaphor for chastity (much like the Twilight series of today. Seriously, what did you think all that "he can't drink her blood until after they are married" was all about?) 

This tale somehow feels like it has been ripped from the headlines.

The song calls her a “girl” (Can I digress and say how much I hate that term. She is clearly a woman because she has a sweetheart. And before you say, Spidergrrl you call yourself girl, let me say that GRRL is a whole different pot of flowers than GIRL. It’s like Riotgrrrl.)

Anyway, this could just be a straightforward “Don’t talk to strangers” sort of message, but something in me sees it more of a description of sexual violence.

Let me let you read the fragment and then I will give you my view on it.

Black Forest

A girl is to go across the country to a wake. Her way leads through a dark forest, where the grey wolf meets her. “Ah dear wolf,” says she, “do not bite me, and I will give thee my shift sewn with silk.” “Thy shift sewn with silk is not what I want, I will have thy young life and blood!” So, she offers her silver shoes, and then her golden crown, but all was in vain. In her trouble she climbs up a high oak tree, but the wolf undermines the root. In her terrible anguish the girl utters a piercing cry. Her lover hears it, saddles his horse, and rides with the swiftness of a bird, but when he arrives at the spot, the oak is lying uprooted, and all that remains of the girl is one bleeding arm.

It's pretty gruesome. All he finds of his true love is her severed arm. That’s really why I  decided it should be part of my research—because of the severed arm. I just loved that creepy detail.

I know it says she was walking through the forest to attend a wake…but the forest is dark. She is walking alone in beautiful, enticing clothes. She attracts a predator. She bargains to try to save her body, but he corners her. She can’t escape and tries to cry out, but it is too late. He has taken what he wants and leaves her broken and bloody. If he were to be caught, it would be her word against his. What was she doing walking alone in the dark forest? She deserved whatever she got. She was wearing a sexy silk shift and high heeled silver shoes. And what's with the golden crown? Who does she think she is, anyway? Stuck up, bitch. She was asking for it. Good girls don’t stray from the path. Bad girls get what’s coming to them. And that sweetheart—he’s never going to look at her the same way again. He’ll always see the bleeding arm and hear her cry and she’ll never be his “princess” again. She’s dirty. Contaminated. It was All. Her. Fault.

Or maybe it is just a sad song about a man who lost his lover to a wolf in a terrible accident.

Next week, we’ll get away from all this seriousness and begin to look at variations on the Red Riding Hood theme from various children’s books from around the world.

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