Obscure Fairy Tale: The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body
4 days until ICE!!!
So, so, so excited.
I thought I'd pass the time by telling you all about another obscure fairy tale that I love. It's a Norse tale collected by Asbjornsen and Moe, the folklorists who recorded "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" (the tale that inspired ICE).
The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body (from Asbjornsen and Moe)
Catchy title. I would have gone with "The Heartless Giant." Reminds me of the original title for "War and Peace": "War and the Time That Was Less Full of Death and Destruction."
Once upon a time... six princes leave home to find brides, but they forget to bring home a bride for the seventh brother.
"My brothers went a-wooing and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
On their way home, the brothers and their brides encounter a giant who turns them all to stone.
Bummer. So much for that road trip.
The seventh brother (named Boots) borrows a horse from his father and goes to search for them.
His brothers are Hat, Scarf, Socks, Cravat, Mittens, and Fred.
He meets a hungry raven and gives the bird all his bread.
This is a very common fairy-tale trope: the animal helper. You help an animal in need, and then later you encounter a problem that only that specific animal is able to solve. Animal helpers typically occur in threes. So this is number one.
He meets a stranded salmon and tosses the fish into the water.
Lastly, he meets a starving wolf and feeds him his horse.
Number... feeds him his HORSE?!
He puts his saddle on the wolf and rides him to the giant's castle.
Okay, that's kinda awesome.
At the castle, the wolf tells him to obey the princess.
He talks. Sweet. I want a friendly, talking wolf large enough to ride. *adds to wish list under "pet gryphon" and "magic wand"*
Inside, the princess tells Boots that the giant can't be killed because he has removed his heart and hidden it.
Call Harry! He made a Horcrux!
She instructs Boots to hide under the bed. The giant comes home and says, "Eww, it stinks of human in here."
"Fee-fie-foe-fum" has such a better ring to it. Just sayin'.
The princess says, "A bird dropped a human bone down the chimney. You know how hard it is to get the smell of human out."
I am suddenly picturing a Glade air freshener commercial...
At night, the princess and giant cuddle, and she asks him where he hid his heart. "Under the door-sill, my pudding pie," he replies.
Not to get hung up on logistics, but how giant is our giant? Are we talking Shaq or King Kong? Is she hugging his thumb? Having trouble picturing this.
Next day, Boots and the princess dig under the door but find nothing.
How exactly are they going to hide a dug up door threshold?
So the princess decorates the door with flowers. When the giant comes home, he asks about the flowers. She says she wanted to honor his heart because she loves him so much.
Brilliant! I love smart princesses.
He thinks that's sweet but his heart isn't there. It's in the cupboard.
Peanut butter, pasta, cereal, oversized living organ most likely still beating in an alarming Poe-like fashion... Explain to me how you miss noticing a beating heart in the cabinet when you fetch your morning cereal.
Next day, they search the cupboard. No heart. Again, the princess decorates the search site with flowers. Again, the giant says, "You're my sweet sugarbear, but my heart isn't there. It's actually in an egg in a duck in a well in a church on an island in a lake."
Directions like that make me happy. I love the concept of hiding something inside an egg.
Next day, Boots rides the wolf to the lake and swims to the island, but the church is locked, and the key is on the steeple, too high to reach.
At first I wanted to make some snide comment about this, but really, it's logical. He's a giant. A steeple is a perfectly cromulent key-hook.
Boots calls the raven to fetch the key. Inside, Boots lifts the duck out of the well, but the duck is so frightened that she lays the egg, and it sinks to the bottom of the well.
I once had a guinea pig who would pee every time you picked him up. Sort of the same thing. Really made you not want to cuddle the guinea pig.
He calls the salmon to fetch it and then returns to the castle.
See, told you the animal helpers would be useful.
Facing the giant, Boots squeezes the egg. The giant screams in agony. Boots says, "Release my brothers and their brides, and I will spare you."
How do you squeeze an egg without breaking it? Did Mythbusters ever do an episode on improbable fairy-tale events? Read somewhere that if a goose really laid a golden egg, it would shoot out of the goose at high velocity...
The giant transforms the princes and brides back to human. The wolf says, "Squeeze it anyway." Boots does, the egg breaks, and the giant explodes.
Whoa. Exploding giant. Morally problematic, but still kinda awesome.
Boots marries the princess, and everyone returns home to live happily ever after.
For more obscure fairy tales (with commentary), check out the Obscure Fairy Tales page of my website, where I've gathered links to all my prior fairy tale posts.