In Defense of King Thrushbeard

Um...should I? Probably not. But I’m gonna anyway.  

Brief History: King Thrushbeard is the somewhat confusing German tale of a Mean Girl princess who thinks she’s better than every prince who comes calling. Each suitor she lists in her burn book with every minor flaw. She even insults the only guy she’s attracted to because she says he has a beard like a Thrush (did you see that coming?). Her fed-up father forces her to marry the next man who comes in, a peasant who takes her home to see how the other half lives. The new hubby insists she pull her weight so they can survive, but when she whines and fails at every task given she ends up getting a maid job in a castle. But not just any castle - King Thrushbeard’s castle. Did you see that coming? You did. Oh. Moving on. While working at the castle, the princess learns about suffering and the importance of being kind and decides she’s going to be helpful to her new husband. That having been said, she still has the hots for King Thrushbeard and feels humiliated when she finds out he’s getting married. Her husband shows up in fancy clothes and asks why she’s crying on her wedding day. Yep, her peasant husband was a clean-shaven King Thrushbeard trying to make her a good person. He grows back the beard and she becomes a decent queen. Sometimes it’s switched, where the king wears an even bushier beard as the peasant and shaves at the end of the story, because the beard is a key character.

Analysis: This Taming of the Shrew style story could be looked at in two ways. The first is the morality tale: the 3 ghosts of Heathers past coming to the princess to show her the error of her ways and all that. She goes from being sassy, but spoiled into full Disney princess who talks to mice. However, as several online articles have pointed out, her husband kinda gaslights her. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, gaslighting comes from a fantastic  play/movie about psychological manipulation. Yes, the princess is spoiled, but she was also strong-willed and wanted to be in control. In the end she’s a better person in a lot of ways, but she’s also becomes subservient to her husband. Plus, he did try to start their marriage on a lie. Not healthy. 

Blame it on the Victorians: Like Bluebeard, this was one of those fairy tales the English loved to put on as a Christmas Pantomime (right along classy stuff like Charles Dickens reading out loud from Oliver Twist). If you aren’t recognizing the reasons for the Victorians liking King Thrushbeard, go back to my blog about Bluebeard. 

Last thoughts: King rode through her pottery in one part of the story. I don’t care how much she needed to learn a lesson, no man should mess with a woman’s crafting! 

*If you want know any of the places where some of my research comes from, just contact me.