Happy New Year to all! After neglecting this blog shamelessly over Christmas, I am back and ready to muse on that odd stepchild of fairytales that is Goldilocks and the Three Bears. After extensive research (viz. checking the contents pages of my Grimm and Andersen collections and a quick Googling), I found myself scratching my head as to how this particular tale wangled itself into the well-known fairytale canon.
For a start, according to that fount of wisdom that is Wikipedia, it isn’t from either of the standard Grimm and Andersen collections, but was written (or at least recorded) by some 19th century English poet called Robert Southey. Furthermore, most of the other classic tales have at least some hint of an overarching theme. Lots of them have a “Victim triumphs over oppression” theme (e.g. Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, the Bremen Town Musicians), or a dash of “Love conquers all ills” (e.g. Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel). In this department, Goldilocks has little to offer, unless you’re a fan of “Picky housebreaker escapes justice”. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the age-old love for good-looking troublemakers and anti-heroes (see also Draco Malfoy).
I was amused to learn that the original housebreaker was a villainous old woman, who was changed to a pretty girl with golden ringlets. Apparently this went down much better with the reading public. It seems that all goods from cars to fairytales sell better if you market them with a blonde! (good news for me, since there’s a blonde on the cover of Let Down Your Hair…) At some point it might be interesting to speculate on why, but that would involve talking about far more hefty topics than I want to go into tonight.
Going back to Goldilocks, its threadbare theme makes it a tricky story to retell. You could do it as a short story, but to make it a novel you’d have to expand it a lot and be far looser with your adaptation. An interesting challenge, but not one I’m inspired to take up any time soon. I did take it up as a child, though… among my childhood papers I discovered a twisted version of Goldilocks I wrote in rhyming verse, aged around ten! Don’t even remember writing it, but it goes to show I was destined for a lifetime of adapting fairytales…