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The objects of comparison are two English folk tales: “Jack and the Beanstalk” (“Jack and the Beanstalk”) and “Molly Whuppie” (“Molly Whuppie”). In these stories, there are similar features that unite them, as well as distinctive nuances. Both fairy tales are well-known, and each of them has some specific peculiarities, due to which these folktales are still famous even several centuries after they were written.
The similarity of the Two Fairy Tales
The main characters of both tales are active children from needy families who have to face problems. Both Jack’s and Molly’s parents are poor, and the children in the stories are forced to experience difficulties in finding food and trying to survive; therefore, the boy and the girl get into ogres’ houses. Dexterity and proper skills help each child. Jack successfully steals gold, a golden hen, and a magic harp (“Jack and the Beanstalk”). Molly takes a sword, a purse, and a ring from the giant (“Molly Whuppie”).
Also, they both make their bold actions in three stages, which emphasizes the courage of these children and their strong desire to achieve as much as possible. Jack and Molly make successful attempts to escape from the giants, and the third time is the most difficult for each of them. The children can successfully hide from dangerous ogres. Once, they are almost caught by the angry owners of houses; nevertheless, both of them manage to show sharpness and avoid punishment at the last moment. Jack and Molly dare to act desperately not only for their benefit but also to help their loved ones. The courage of children makes them similar to each other. Both of these stories end well for the boy and the girl.
The contrast of the Two Fairy Tales
Despite the fact that these English folk stories are quite similar, they have some distinctive features. For example, Jack acquires beans from a stranger and takes the initiative himself (“Jack and the Beanstalk”). Molly stumbles upon a mysterious house in the woods by chance (“Molly Whuppie”). Also, the boy is the only participant in the main events, and the girl finds herself in a strange house with two sisters. Jack decides to climb on the beanstalk to the sky consciously, and Molly gets into a mysterious house accidentally. Furthermore, the boy manages to escape successfully twice so that the ogre could not notice him. The girl always flees from the pursuit and disappears at the last moment, hearing behind her the cries of the owner of the house.
The reasons why children decide to steal someone else’s property are also different. Jack is guided solely by personal motives and wants to ensure that they live well with his mother; thus, he steals gold things from the giant several times (“Jack and the Beanstalk”). Molly, who together with her sisters manages to get to the king’s castle, acts for the benefit of her loved ones, and she decides to steal the ring for a promising marriage only at the last time (“Molly Whuppie”). Moreover, the girl is forced to show sharper wit than the boy. Molly comes up with the ways to escape from the ill-fated home several times, while Jack just runs away quietly. Children use different ways to get rid of the pursuit: the boy, for example, uses an ax to cut the stalk and not just runs away (“Jack and the Beanstalk”). Molly runs along a thin bridge, where the giant cannot catch her because he is too heavy (“Molly Whuppie”). All these facts allow saying that, despite the general similarity of the plots, the details of the two fairy tales are entirely different.
Gender Difference of the Main Characters
In both stories, there is no distinct difference in the fact that the children are of different sexes. Jack and Molly act cleverly regardless of their gender. Perhaps, the boy shows more recklessness when he tries to steal ogre’s things only for his benefit and deliberately risks his life. The girl, on the contrary, decides to take the giant’s property not just because of personal motives but also for the sake of her sisters who are expecting a successful marriage if she manages to deceive the owner of the house in the forest. The endings of the stories probably emphasize different approaches to the disposal of the pursuit. When Jack is running from the ogre’s house, Jack decides to use an ax, which reflects his masculine essence; he does not run into a stupor unlike his mother, and acts boldly and efficiently (“Jack and the Beanstalk”). Molly just escapes, not trying to take any active measures, which probably can be regarded as a female weakness (“Molly Whuppie”). Nevertheless, there is no explicit emphasis on the gender difference of the characters in the stories.
Thus, the two fairy tales have both similar and distinctive features. The plots of the stories are almost identical, but some details are different. The essence of each tale is associated with children’s bold actions and can be regarded as a vivid example of cunning and dexterity. The stories about Jack and Molly are unlikely to have any gender subtext.
“Jack and the Beanstalk.” Sacred Texts, Web.
“Molly Whuppie.” Sacred Texts, Web.