Goldilocks: From a cynical perspective
Goldilocks was a folk story we all grew up with, including myself. But upon stumbling across my childhood books and the Story of Goldilocks, my reread provoked a lot of thought and perhaps now in my older state with knowledge of the world, this book is not all it seems...
The story of Goldilocks, ‘a little girl with golden locks of hair’
Who broke into the bears’ cottage, when they weren't there.
Out for a morning stroll, allowing their porridge to cool to the correct temperature,
She broke in, ate their porridge and abused their furniture.
After breaking poor Baby Bear’s chair,
She turned her attention to the possessions upstairs.
Upon the bears’ return they noticed something was untoward,
The missing porridge and the chairs had been explored.
They found the perpetrator upstairs in their very own bed,
She awoke, startled, jumped out the window and fled.
Are the bears victims?
First of all I would like to question the bears' motives in all of this. When Goldilocks enters their house, she simply 'lifted the latch and walked in'. There was no effort involved, no forcing of windows or doors, no alarm to disable or any difficulty whatsoever. I appreciate the house in the middle of a forest away from large volumes of human traffic, but still. They would not be able to claim on insurance for property damage since they don't lock up.
This prompts me to believe that maybe the bears are trying to entice burglars. Leaving a fresh meal on the table and then departing the house for a brief time to come back and catch them in the act. Perhaps the bears have grown bored of porridge and want something more meaty? Science is on my side: Bears can smell up to 20 miles away and perhaps enticed her to their cottage. They didn't catch her though, she was too quick.
Why was Goldilocks in the forest?
Why was Goldilocks in the wood? Why was an unaccompanied young innocent girl in a wood, where brown bears live? This notion raises many questions. The cottage was 'in the middle of the wood' so why would she be there? Furthermore when she 'jumped out of the window' she ran away further 'into the wood'.
Goldilocks seems to be running away from something: her parents or her old lifestyle. I would suggest that Goldilocks has been residing in the forest as well, since she went to bed at breakfast time, inferring hard sleeping conditions. This brings a darker side to a once innocent sounding tale.
Why is Goldilocks never punished?
I believe all stories read to young children should have a subtle moral to help mold them into conscientious and compassionate human beings, yet this one does not have that. Goldilocks breaks into a house that she does not own, eats their food, destroys their furniture and sleeps in their beds. She runs away unscathed and without comeuppance.
Punishment is a very important concept, necessary to maintain a structured society, otherwise anarchy will reign supreme. Punishment is necessary to make the criminal suffer in balance to the damage they have done, deter re-offence and others from the same crimes, to reform the offending party and compensate the victims. Yet, Goldilocks receives none of this treatment, not a good message for the next generation, methinks.
'First she lay down on the bed of the great, huge bear, and that was too high for her. Next, she lay down on the bed of the middle bear, and that was too lower for her'. Notice, how the two bears sleep apart. Why?
Perhaps this is to protect the young readers from sex and premature maturity. Yet, I think perhaps it highlights marital insecurity and developing problems between mama and papa bears respectively.
Also, since the bears live in a small cottage, in an undesirable location (too far from local amenities and facilities; high crime rate) they may simply be not financially able to separate. A common problem found in these times of economic austerity; proving that fairy tales are timeless.
The Bears' Aspirations
Each of three bears is treated according to their size. The 'great, huge bear', the 'middle bear' and the 'small, wee bear'. None of the bears have any aspirations since their paths are determined by their size. They all have fixed roles in the tale.
This relates to the whole story and everything being very structured. Each item Goldilocks encounters is either too extreme in one direction for the great, huge bear; the polar opposite for the middle bear, and an appropriate compromise for the small, wee bear.
The bears' known their roles: each has their own chair for example, so as to know where to sit.
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