Brief History: You all know this one. Little girl breaks into house, little girl messes with food, chairs, and beds until they are to her liking. Owners come home to find their lives have been violated. Little girl wakes up to discover that the owners were three bears and runs away. In earliest versions, Goldilocks is an old woman who never learned not to break and enter. The old woman is usually punished in some way at the end, either going to jail or ending up injured/outright dying in her escape attempt. In England, an early folktale version included a lady-fox who breaks into the home of the bears, adding to some sort of predator rivalry. And the bears weren’t always a family. In some versions they are three single male bears and it is their bachelor pad which has been messed with.
Although, if the old woman or the fox had tidied the home, I bet they would have been more upset (Am I right, ladies? Okay, cheap joke. Sorry)
Analysis: Don’t break and enter. Not that hard, people. I’m pretty sure there’s some feminine curiosity lesson in there too which brings me to the Victorians.
Blame it on the Victorians: This story became very popular starting in the 1850s and, like other fairy tales, was cleaned up through the generations. No more death, no more bachelor bears, no more little old ladies who just like sitting in other people’s chairs and breaking them. It got to the point where the story was so child-geared that later versions stopped mentioning that Goldilocks fell on her butt when the chair broke (just that it broke). And the cleaner it was, the more it became a moral tale instead of just a bizarre story about bears who have a mortgage and cook porridge.
Last thoughts: Ever see the Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre version? The one where Goldilocks (played by Tatum O’Neal) convinces the bears that she’s homeless so they take her in, only to then be accused of kidnapping her? Ha ha ha. Good times.
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