Friday, December 9, 2011

Fairy Tale Friday #9: Creepy Villains

This post was inspired by the recent episode of NBC's Grimm about the Pied Piper. I remember reading up on this story earlier this year because my brother wanted to know if the phrase "pay the piper" is related to the story. According to Wikipedia, the phrase means, "to face the inevitable consequences of one's actions" which makes sense for the story "Pied Piper of Hamelin" where the villagers refuse to pay the piper when he got rid of their rat problem. Tsk, tsk, villagers.

In fairy tales, there are always villains that mess with the protagonists. They want to prevent happily ever afters. The stepmother in "Cinderella" doesn't want her stepdaughter to be happy over her own daughters. The Evil Queen in "Snow White" wants her stepdaughter killed because of her beauty. The Wolf in "Little Red Riding Hood" wants to eat the little girl in red--he's a wolf after all.

But then there are the really creepy villains where they do more than prevent happy endings. They are kidnappers (possibly sexual predators), murderers, and cannibals.

"Pied Piper of Hamelin"

The town of Hamelin has a rat problem. The Pied Piper offers his services and expects payment for his efforts which the people agree to. After he plays his musical pipe to lure the rats into the river to drown, the townspeople renege on their end and refuse to pay him. In revenge, the Pied Piper lures the children of the town away, never to be seen again. And he gets away with it because nothing happens to him at the end of the story.

What makes the Pied Piper creepy is that he is a man who uses his colorful clothing and an musical instrument to convince the children to follow him. It's like a stranger offering candy to a little kid to get into his car. He has pedophilia written all over him. There is supposedly a version where he has "his wicked way" with the children, according to Wikipedia. Beyond creepy.

According to Wikipedia,
Also, some experts on pedophilia, such as Ken Lanning of the FBI, in writing about the seduction of children by some pedophiles, have used the term the "Pied Piper effect" to describe a "unique ability to identify with children."
With all the news today about various sexual abuse cases that involve minors, it's just so sad and devastating to see. (I went to Penn State for 2 years as an undergrad before transferring to NYU and most of my friends have graduated from Penn State, so the situation is so freaking sad and heartbreaking.) Pied Piper and these sexual predators are seen as authority figures who the children may be in awe of, but then these adults take advantage of the situation.


I have previously talked about Bluebeard as an Ugly Husband, but this time, I'm talking about him as a Creepy Villain. This man seems to collect wives like trophies (figuratively and literally) and murder them. To make it even creepier, he keeps their corpses and body parts in a bloody chamber where the next wife is able to find. From the story, we don't really know why he kills his wives and why he keeps the evidence. Is it some sort of obsession? Is it to prove his worth? Well, we know why he wants to kill his current wife. She was too curious and broke her promise by opening the forbidden room. Maybe the previous wives did the same. But what about the first wife? What did she do? Bluebeard is an ugly man who's able to marry a beautiful woman after another. Instead of being satisfied with having a beautiful wife, he kills her. Is it some sort of power? Is it a game for him?

The Blind Witch in "Hansel and Gretel"

The old, blind witch lures Hansel and Gretel into her candy house with promises of food and beds. Instead of that, she locks Hansel in a cage and makes Gretel her slave. (I still don't get why the children couldn't escape earlier in the story since the witch is blind.) The witch eats children, and it's assumed that she's done this previously because Hansel finds a bone in the cage. A cannibal! She's a creepy woman who likes the taste of children's flesh. Why? Is it like people eating veal, baby cows? The flesh is soft and fat and delicate, not so tough on the old woman's weak teeth.

Maybe there's an idea that the old woman wants the taste of being young again by consuming children--like the Fountain of Youth in cannibal form. It reminds me of the legend/folklore around Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed who was accused of killing hundreds of girls and bathing in their blood to keep her youth and beauty.

Eventually, the witch is killed when Gretel tricks her into going into the oven. (Yes, the girl saves the day!)

(Maybe I should write about a cannibalism post since there is some in "Snow White" and "Sun, Moon, and Talia.")

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Okay, these recent "Fairy Tale Friday" posts haven't been very uplifting! When it gets closer to Christmas, I'll try to have a lighter post. Unless I am cruel and decide to write about sad endings (which is a topic I want to explore eventually!).


Jenna Cooper said...

I've been dabbling in some of the Grimm tales and I don't know if Bluebeard is the same one in theirs, but they have a similar story and it's really rather freaky.

mimz said...

Oh wow... you know I never thought of the Piper this way... Well, maybe when I last read this fairy tale, I wasn't thinking about things that way, but now I just can't unsee it.

You know, there's this new tv show Grimm, that is basically taking all of this creepy stuff in the fairy tales and making them sort of "modern day". They had an episode closely related to the Bluebeard story. I don't know if you watch it but you might find it interesting. :)

sugarpeach said...

I've never thought of the Pied Piper as a guy involved in pedophilia! The picture you posted is enough to make me think of him that way now. :P I did not read the version which says he has a "wicked way" with children.

Burgandy Ice said...

Definitely creepy!! I enjoy the fresh way you look at familiar fairy tales, they turn into... creepy, a NEW view.

ebaker said...

Creeper! I don't like the witch in Snow White either...or in Sleeping don't really look at spinning wheels the same :) The Pied Piper is very creepy now that you mention it...

Jennifer said...

Interesting read about fairytales and villains. Have not read a blog post about fairytales before. Something new for me!

Munnaza said...

Woah. I actually use the phrase "pay the piper" a lot, so that's... Wow. Haha, yeah, I don't think I'll be using that phrase anymore. (I had no idea it was from that story! Even though it means the same thing, knowing the origin makes it seem more creepy and sinister somehow.)

It's funny - when I saw the title of this post, I was like, "Of course. Every fairy tale has a villain who messes with the characters." I'm glad you pointed out that there's meddling, and then there's CREEPY. Pied Piper, Blue Beard, and the Blind Witch make villains like the evil queen in Snow White seem like nothing.

Actually, they make Regina in Once Upon a Time (lol, sorry, I couldn't resist another OUaT reference) and her curse seem like child's play.

primrose said...

Is Bluebeard a part of the Grimm's Fairy Tales? Count Olaf from the Lemony Snicket's story could be a very creepy villain. And the movie..gosh I hate Jim Carrey after watching it.

Kulsuma said...

Fairy tales are so creepy. Much more creepy when you look into it like this!

FairyWhispers said...

Ohmy, your faerie tale friday posts is getting darker.

Sophia Rose said...

There definitely are some really bad nasties in the fairy tale stories. Probably for the purpose of teaching safety.

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