Germaine Greer on the literary worth of old wives tales | Books | The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/15/germaine-greer-old-wives-tales

    Even a tale with a male hero, such as Jack and the Beanstalk, is centered in the female world. Jack’s most important relationship is with his mother, who resorts to violence to discipline him, without success. His climbing the beanstalk can be seen as an attempt to escape to the superior masculine world, which turns out to be the realm of an ogre, whose wife is Jack’s only ally. The world at the top of the beanstalk is a mirror image of the world below, except that it is dominated by a destructive male who is eventually made to crash to the ground when Jack cuts down the beanstalk. The old wives who first told the story cast themselves in the story in two familiar roles, the bad mother (Jack’s lone parent) and the good mother (the brutal father figure’s gentle wife).



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