Jack was not too smart but a hearty guy who traded his cow for some supposedly magical beans. Beans were indeed magical and after one-night giant stalk had sprung up to the sky where Jack found a castle with ogre…
This story is believed to be about five thousand (!) years old.
As you already know I will provide some more interesting facts about this fairy tale:
- It is a very typical folktale for England and the Commonwealth area, but we can find some similar stories all over the world. Let me mention just David and Goliath from Bible or Ulysses and Cyclops Polyphemus from Odyssey (almost identical episode is included in one of the Sinbad's seven voyages in Arabian Nights too). The famous "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman!" said by the giant is used in the third act of Shakespeare's King Lear.
- The first printed version of Jack and Beanstalk was written by Benjamin Tabart (1807). In this version, Jack transforms from an irresponsible boy into a dutiful son and mother’s pride. We can hardly find any change of character is now the much more known version of Joseph Jacobs, written almost a century years later (1890). Among other differences is Jack’s excuse to loot ogre’s castle. In Tabart’s version Jack found out how ogre killed his father and took his castle, so Jack has every right to take everything from the castle because it should be his anyway. In Jacob’s version, there is no such explanation. Researchers believe Jacob's version, which is not moralizing, is closer to the oral version.
- Famous and pretty controversial psychologist Bruno Bettelheim strongly supported Jacob’s version because ogre symbolizes father and it is son’s duty to defeat his father if he wants to grow up. So he can take stuff just because it belongs to ogre!
I agree with psychologists. Giants are good symbols of paternal figures. They are much bigger and stronger than kids and they possess a lot of valuables. If the kid wants to take valuables, he must outwit the giant. But I disagree with Bettleheim and Jacobs. Tabart’s version is much stronger from a dramatic point of view.
And who’s side are you on?