Narrating Gender Reality in Japanese Folktale Tradition
Appendix VII: An Analysis of Bluebeard Story and Japanese Animal-Wife Tales
There are many well-known stories categorized under the “Forbidden Chamber” motif (Thompson Motif Index number C 611), such as Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and the Brothers Grimm’s “Fitchers Vogel” or “Fitcher’s Bird” (Kinder- und Hausmärchen or KHM #46).1 Interestingly enough, these stories revolve around three pillar episodes: (1) the female burns with curiosity to look into a chamber that the male has commanded her not to enter or peer into; (2) she violates his command; and (3) she kills her spouse despite his own murderous intentions toward her. These stories usually close with episodes that relate to the mortal punishment of the male and the happy life that the female lives without her first spouse. These types of stories generally depict the male as a brutal, nefarious crook and the female, by contrast, as an astute and dauntless lady.
The “Forbidden Chamber” motif stories have long attracted scholarly attention for their underlying theme of socially weak femininity. In spite of their insights into the stories, many studies of the issue pay little attention to the sociocultural and historical backgrounds from which the stories emerged. So, folklorists have to pay attention to actual marriage conditions and customs, as well as marriage negotiations between a bride and a bridegroom. In Leon Battista Alberti’s book, Book of the Family (published in 1443), researchers ← 151 | 152 → can see how Florentines in the fifteenth century Renaissance period considered marriage and how husbands tried to manage wives in Florence at that time...
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