Can we talk about Bluebeard? I hate Bluebeard, okay? But you know what I love? Fitcher’s Bird. So let’s look at the differences.
Bluebeard is French. Perrault. Fitcher’s Bird is German. The Brothers Grimm. So let’s put away the idea that the Grimms are the most horrifically sexist fairy tale people of all time, shall we? Historically, they’re a major improvement.
You probably know the story of Bluebeard. Man with peculiar facial hair marries girl, tells girl not to enter one particular room while he’s out of town, gives her a key to said room, and leaves. Girl, full of insatiable curiosity, enters room, finds corpses of all Man’s previous wives, and in her shock, drops the key in their blood. She leaves the room quickly, but the key has been stained, and try as she might, she cannot wash away the blood. Man returns, inspects key, and prepares to kill another wife. She begs for time to say her final prayers, and during this time her brothers arrive, kill Bluebeard, and rescue her. The girl proceeds to live happily ever after, but the two morals of the story, as provided by Perrault, are:
1. Curiosity will get you in trouble
2. Real life guys aren’t nearly as bad as Bluebeard, so chill.
On, then, to Fitcher’s Bird. I’ve always pictured this bad guy with a silver nose, but I might be mixing up my Bluebeard variants. Someone has a silver nose. Anyway, we have a sorcerer. He just straight up kidnaps his girls, and for some reason I find that sort of comforting. If you’re gonna be evil, just own up to it, you know?
So he kidnaps a girl, brings her to his fancy house, goes on a business trip and leaves her home alone with the forbidden key and an egg, which she mustn’t let out of her sight. Why an egg? Beats me. Spoiler alert—it never hatches.
Girl number one opens the murder closet, drops the egg, stains it, and gets chopped up and added to the mix as soon as the sorcerer gets home. He goes and kidnaps her sister. Same thing. And it’s down to the youngest sister.
Now this girl, she’s got some brains on her. She leaves the egg sitting safely on the kitchen counter when she goes exploring. Finds the murder closet, doesn’t drop anything in the blood, and begins carefully putting together the chopped up bodies of her sisters. And since this is a fairy tale, they promptly come back to life. Of course, the fragmented bodies of a dozen other girls get left behind, but hey, two resurrections in a single story? You’re already getting more than your money’s worth.
Sisters get stashed up in the attic or something. Third girl presents clean egg to the sorcerer. The test passed, he proposes to her immediately. And boy is she ever wearing the pants in this relationship.
Yeah, she says, whatever. But while I plan the wedding you gotta haul this huge basket of gold to my parents, ‘kay?
So she dumps the sisters in the basket, sprinkles some gold on top for appearances, and sends the man off, with strict instructions not to stop and rest, because she’ll be watching him from her window the whole time.
Dude gets tired. Sits for a minute. “And just what do you think you’re doing?” asks a zombie sister. “I thought I told you not to stop.”
Surprised at how close his bride’s voice sounds, he gets up and starts walking again. Meanwhile, she’s inviting all his friends over to celebrate the engagement.
He stops to rest. “Slacking again?” says the zombie sister. “My parents are waiting, dear.”
He hurries on. His bride fetches a skull from one of the skeletons in his closet, dresses it for a wedding, and props it up in the window.
“Hurry up,” her sister tells him in her voice. She coats herself in honey. He drops the basket on her mother’s porch. She slices open his feather bed and rolls in it. He walks home. She walks home.
Paths collide—no problem. Why should he suspect anything, when his bride is right up in the window there, smiling down at him. Crazy humanoid birds aren’t that unusual, I suppose, where he comes from.
He enters the house. Bird girl’s friends and family, alerted by her sisters, meet her out back, and they set the house on fire. Evil sorcerer, evil sorcerer’s evil friends, all up in flames.
So here’s a girl who knows what she wants and finds a way to get it. Sensible and determined. Sneaky. Persistent. Smart. She saves her sisters, she saves herself, and she finds a way to bring down countless bad guys. Not to mention all the gold the sorcerer carried home with the zombie sisters. This family is set for life, just like in Bluebeard, but in this version, the girl wasn’t stupid and careless and she didn’t have to rely on her brothers to save her. They helped, sure, but she orchestrated the whole show. Got the world wrapped around her little finger, that girl. She’ll go far. Just as soon as she washes all those feathers off.