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The Juniper Tree
Transcript of The Juniper Tree
By. Prashansa, Mary, Aidan and Saba
-> The archetypal critical theory helps to clarify a given text with the aid of visible patterns including recurring archetypes and/or myths found within the characters and symbols of the narrative.
-> The theory is based on the works of psychologist C.G. Jung and mythologist Joseph Campbell.
-> Jung stated in his works that archetypes are the “psychic residue” of the recurrent experiences of our ancestors.
-> They are genetically passed down to the “collective unconscious” of their descendants which influence myths, religions and works of literature.
-> When it comes to archetypes of colours, white is associated with good, purity or tranquility and black tends to represent evil, death or mystery/sophistication.
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The Evil Stepmother
-> The evil stepmother is often the main antagonist of many fairy-tales including the Juniper Tree.
-> While the behaviour exhibited these stepmother characters are very psychotic, its representation of the competition between a woman’s biological children and stepchildren is very natural.
-> In this case, the stepmother attempts to get rid of her stepson in order for her daughter to inherit her husband’s possessions.
-> Since they lived during the 1800’s and were raised in a devout Reformed Christian family with Calvinist beliefs, the lives of the Grimm brothers were deeply ingrained by God and religion.
-> Therefore there were many biblical connotations in their literary works.
Summary of The Juniper Tree
-> The Juniper Tree is about a man and a wife who couldn't have any children so the woman wished to have a child, as red as blood and white as snow
-> Later when she died after finally having a baby , her husband buried her under the juniper tree
-> The husband grieved, and later married another woman and had another child with her
-> The first child was a boy and the second was a girl, the stepmother was incredibly jealous of the little boy
-> One day when she had told him that he could have an apple from the chest in her room, and then while he was bending the stepmother closed the lid, decapitating the boy
-> The millstone that is given to the “bird” which later smothers the stepmother is actually a reference to Luke 17:2 “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
-> Although this reference may not be obvious to most, it was a very popular biblical connotation during the Grimm brothers’ times.
-> The apple often symbolizes the forbidden fruit in the bible.
-> The offering of the apple by the stepmother to her stepson is analogous to the supposed snake who offers the forbidden fruit to Eve.
Archetypes of The Juniper Tree
Summary of The Juniper Tree (cont.)
-> The stepmother than tricked her daughter into thinking that she had killed him, and then put him in pudding and then fed it to the daughter and husband
-> The girl then lay her brothers bones under the Juniper Tree, which then began to move around and the mist came forth and when it cleared, a bird flew out
-> The bird had flee to 3 different places singing a distinctive song, and collected 3 items from each person ( from the 3 places) if they wanted to hear the song again
-> The bird had aquired a gold chain, red shoes and milstone
-> The bird then went back to the house and gave the husband and sister the gold chain and red shoes respectively, and then dropped the milstone on top of the stepmother, killing her
-> The bird then flew down and vanished into mist once again, and when it cleared the little boy emerged from it
Are the various elements found in the story (such as characters, symbols and themes) archetypal fairytale stories of the time?
Rich man ( The Husband/ Father)
“Presently the father came home and sat down to his dinner; he asked, ’Where is my son?’ The mother said nothing, but gave him a large dish of black pudding, and Marleen still wept without ceasing. The father again asked, ’Where is my son?’ ’Oh,’ answered the wife, ’he is gone into the country to his mother’s great uncle; he is going to stay there some time.’….With this he went on with his dinner, and said, ’Little Marleen, why do you weep? Brother will soon be back.’” (Grimm 3).
-> In the story, the father is depicted as a character who is naïve about the situation between his second wife and his son.
-> This can be seen in the quote, when the father asks his wife about his son, and does not question her response and believes her for her word (since he does not suspect her for any harm on his son).
-> The characterization of the father also mirrors other father figures found in fairy tales, for they like the man in the story, are portrayed as being naïve of the conflicts occurring between other characters.
-> Usually in fairy tales, father figures tend to play a role in generating momentum and excitement in the story.
-> This can also be seen in the man when he decides to become remarried after the death of his first wife.
-> It is due to the fact that he married his second wife and had a child with her that resulted in the death of the little boy.
The Rich Man (cont.)
Man’s First Wife
-> The man in the short story is portrayed as being naïve, and plays a key role in the momentum of the story
-> The man’s first wife is seen as a character who contributes to the plot of the story, in a structure that is reccurring in fairy tales
“Long, long ago, some two thousand years or so, there lived a rich man with a good and beautiful wife. They loved each other dearly, but sorrowed much that they had no children.” (Grimm 1).
-> Fairy tales often have a loving wife/mother who ends up dying, after which the husband marries another woman who ends up being the evil step-mother to her (the first wife’s) children.
-> This situation is very similar to that of the given story.
-> Also, like other mother figures in fairy tales, the mother of the son in the story does not fully abandon her son, but returns in the shape of benevolent natural powers (empowering her son through the capabilities of the juniper tree to take revenge against his evil step-mother and come back to life).
-> Furthermore, women in fairy tales who are seen as “good” are often shown as having beauty. This can be seen in the story, for the first wife is portrayed as being good and beautiful.
Man's First Wife (Cont.)
The Little Boy
-> The little boy in the story is portrayed as being innocent and is represented as one who unites his father to his first wife
“The little boy now came in, and the evil spirit in the wife made her say kindly to him, ’My son, will you have an apple?’ but she gave him a wicked look. ’Mother,’ said the boy, ’how dreadful you look! Yes, give me an apple.’” (Grimm 2).
The Little Boy (Cont.)
-> Like all other young children in literature, the little boy in the story is portrayed with a sense of innocence.
-> This can be seen in the quote, for the boy falls for the trap set up by his step-mother with the belief that all mothers are loving to their young children (despite the fact that the step-mother has hurt him before).
-> Usually, sons/brothers depicted in fairy tales, are often seen as the endangered parts of an inseparable unity.
-> This is portrayed in the story for the son is seen as being very precious to his father, since he reminds him of his first wife who has died, and is one of the only things he has that unites him to his first wife.
The Beautiful Bird (The transformed body of the boy)
“After this a mist came round the tree, and in the midst of it there was a burning as of fire, and out of the fire there flew a beautiful bird, that rose high into the air, singing magnificently, and when it could no more be seen, the juniper-tree stood there as before, and the silk handkerchief and the bones were gone.” (Grimm 3).
The Beautiful Bird (Cont.)
-> During the climax of the story, the bones of the little boy transform into a bird.
-> Birds are used in fairy tales to represent the human desire for escapism, for they often symbolize the incorporeal human soul that is free from its physical constrictions.
-> This can be seen in the story because, by the boy’s transformation into a bird, he is able to escape from the control of his step-mother (that he experienced in the form of a human) and take revenge against her for what she has done to him.
-> Furthermore, in fairy tales, anything that is depicted as being “good” is often portrayed with imagery that is appealing.
-> This can be seen in the quote, for the bird is portrayed as being good and beautiful
-> The step-mother is seen as a character who is cruel and destructive
“… [Evil thoughts] took possession of her more and more, and made her behave very unkindly to the boy. She drove him from place to place with cuffings and buffetings, so that the poor child went about in fear, and had no peace from the time he left school to the time he went back.” (Grimm 1).
The Stepmother (Cont.)
-> The myth of the evil step-mother is a common recurrence in fairy tales.
-> In the story, the step-mother is depicted as a character who is deceitful and acts wickedly towards the little boy.
-> This can be seen in the quote, for it is stated how she is often seen treating the boy with cruelty.
-> Furthermore, children in fairy tales are seen as victims of the actions of their step-mothers, and are seen showing hatred towards them.
-> This hatred is depicted in the story when the boy takes revenge on his step-mother.
-> Likewise, the figure of the stepmother demonstrates both destructive intentions, and how the actions that she commits lead the protagonist into a situation that can strengthen them.
-> This can be seen in the story when the step-mother’s action of killing the little boy has enabled him to come free from his physical constrictions (through his transformation) into a state that empowered him to take revenge over his step-mother.
Marleen (The sister)
-> Marleen like her brother, is portrayed as being innocent
“…she wrapped all the bones from under the table and carried them outside, and all the time she did nothing but weep.” (Grimm 3).
-> Like all young children in literature, Marleen is portrayed with a sense of innocence.
-> This can be seen in the quote, for as a young child, she is seen being unable to deal with the death of her brother, and thus cries uncontrollably.
-> Since siblings of the same gender are often rivals in fairy tales, and the siblings involved in this story are of the opposite gender, explains why both the boy and Marleen are seen as associates of each other.
The Juniper Tree
-> Trees are often used to symbolize life, the blessings of nature and good fortune.
-> This depiction is expressed in the story when the magical power of the juniper tree enables the man’s first wife to bear a child (a hope that both her and the man had wished for years).
-> Since the juniper tree contributes to one of the major events of the story (the wife’s bearing of the little boy) it is seen as a significant symbol in the text, and thus contributes to the title of the story.
Based on the analysis we have conducted we conclude, that the elements used in the story are archetypal to other fairy tale stories of the time, since we were able to make many connections between the short story and other fairy tales (as a result of the recurrence of certain forms of characterization and symbols).
Through the use of archetypes the text emphasizes the notion of image, forming a meaning shaped by cultural, psychological myths. These myths create our universal psych (they shape the way we see and interpret things) that we all inherit.
Focus of Analysis