LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Should Kids Today Read of that Beard so Blue

on January 17, 2013 1:00am

Crimson ichor still dripped from the eviscerated form of the young woman: not a sentence many would expect in a fairy tale intended for children. This scene described above, however, would not be out of place as a description of Bluebeard’s secret room. Many a parent would balk at the idea of having this story, where the corpses are piled seven high, exist in a children’s book today and would certainly not have it be read by their kids. However, I would argue that this Perrault classic deserves its place in children’s book and base my arguments upon two aspects: the first is that the story is beautifully written and moralistic and the second is that it hardly upsets modern sensibilities.

My first argument relies upon the story’s beauty while presenting a dark world that children must come to terms with. Perrault writing of “Bluebeard” is both quick paced and gripping. The reader is left on the edge of their seat with curiosity over “that little closet, which I forbid you [from entering]” and cannot help but wish that, despite Bluebeard’s dire proclamation that should his wife open it that “[she] may expect from my just anger and resentment”, she open the door. Once the wife reveals the gruesome mystery, the reader will wish for the wife to both survive and wreak vengeance upon Bluebeard. Thus, Perrault’s ability to draw the reader in and care greatly commends itself as a book for children. That the reader, aware of dark secrets, reacts, wanting the evil Bluebeard to be struck down reveals the great continuing need of children for morality. Even though evil may be hidden and wreak havoc, the forces for good triumphs in the end. This important example must remain.

Bluebeard Down

My second argument rails against the idea that children shouldn’t be exposed to such a “dark” story. News station continuously discuss horrific events occurring throughout the world, movies and video games, both inherently more graphic mediums, focus on death, killing, and blood.

Its a good thing we all jumped out

Well….we’re going to be on the news

In the midst of all these virtual bombardments of gore, can anyone say that a dark story will be the one thing that scars a child? A story that, contrary to most tales children will hear on the news, ends on a happy note. The answer is a resounding no. Perrault’s masterpiece must remain and continue to intrigue, teach, and be appreciated by people of all ages. Furthermore, as the story tells us, why should we forbid it from the children? They will only end up wanting to read it all the more.

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One response to “Should Kids Today Read of that Beard so Blue

  1. I definitely agree with your arguments that “Bluebeard” deserves recognition as a children’s piece of literature. Although finding dead bodies hung in a room is probably not an ideal image for kids, the story does indeed have a happy ending and teaches children an important lesson about curiosity and prayer. The language of the story is also written in a tone better suited for children than adults. In addition, as you stated, kids of today are unfortunately surrounded by frightful and evil images of war, natural disaster, and crime. Turn on the evening news or pick up the local newspaper and there’s bound to be mention of something bad. In this regard, I definitely think that “Bluebeard” is well categorized as a children’s work. Moreover, many children actually enjoy frightening topics. The successful series, Goosebumps, is adored by lots of kids today. The series tells of very scary stories, often involving ghosts, monsters, and other frightening themes. As a young girl, I also remember watching the Nickelodeon series, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Although I was extremely frightened during the scary parts of the episode, I just couldn’t turn away from the television. Another memory I have is my grandpa telling me the story of the “Swamp Monster” who lived in the swamp looking for young children to eat. I was riveted by the story and wanted to know all the gruesome details. In addition, Halloween is a holiday loved by millions of kids. My brothers loved dressing up as the grim reaper or a gross zombie. There is definitely a place for scary and creepy topics in children’s literature and entertainment. In my opinion, “Bluebeard” is a good fit in children’s literature because it is stylistically geared toward the young, teaches the audience a moral lesson, and finishes with a happy ending.

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