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Puss in the Boots Author's Alternative Bio

Updated on January 19, 2017
Puss in Boots by Harry Clarke
Puss in Boots by Harry Clarke

Listen to the Puss in Boots!

Puss in Boots is the most popular fairy tale with an animal in the title and the most known story about a trickster.

In most of the fairy tales for kids we expect heroes with classic virtues: courage, honesty, empathy ...

It seems Puss in Boots is just the opposite. He lies, schemes, threatens ... He achieves everything with trickery.

Not exactly a role mode model for kids, right? No wonder why brothers Grimm didn't want to include this story in their collection.

But Perrault didn't wrote it for children. He was a member of Louis XIV court, where fraudsters like Puss from the title were probably in majority.

The power of words

One of the main reasons for popularity of fairy tales is the possibility of their interpretation. With only basic knowledge of symbols and background of their authors we can find all kinds of interesting, sometimes almost unbelievable explanations.This one is no exception.

On one level it can be understood as a story with a questionable moral where a lie (actually series of lies) serves as a perfect tool for climbing up the social ladder.

On the other it presents pretty classical rags to riches pattern with predictable happy ending, similar to the story of Cinderella. While older sons enjoy in the inheritance consisting from a mill and a donkey, representing the powers of production and transport, the youngest son got only a cat. Even a small child understands the mill and the donkey carry huge potential benefits to their owners.

But the cat? Third son doesn't have a house or a mill, where an animal could be of any use. A pet in his situation works much more like a joke, an unnecessary luxury in the hands of somebody who doesn't have anything to eat.

It sounds cruel, but logic when he decides to kill the cat, eats his meat and use his skin to make a pair of gloves.

Illustration by Walter Crane
Illustration by Walter Crane

On the other hand this position gives a total freedom to the youngest son, while the older ones have to deal with responsibility coming with their properties. Third son can do anything he wants. He can become anything he wants. With a help of the cat, who can talk (and is pretty smart as well!), he really does.

Everything in the story is about words, this powerful instrument with ability to change the cruel reality into classic fairy tale ending. When youngest son said he will eat a cat, an animal starts speaking. This is the first (and actually the only) sign of his magic powers. He promises to his master he will make him incredibly rich and powerful, he just needs a pair of boots to start working on the plan.

What version of Puss in Boots are you familiar with?

Do you prefer reading, listening or watching?

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How can right words turn illusion to reality

Cat (in man's clothes) managed to open the doors to the king's castle with flattery. He brings gifts (caught by pretending being dead) and explains they are sent from the nobleman who doesn't exist. A king is not only happy about the gifts, we becomes curious about the cat's master, mysterious count, too.

Illustration by Carl Offterdinger
Illustration by Carl Offterdinger

When initial trust of the king is already built, Puss makes the next move - he introduces his master to the king (and his daughter). But a boy in a torn shirt could never pass as a nobleman ...

So cat arranges they meet in the after the non-existing robbery near the lake where his master supposed to take a bath. Thanks to his convincing story cat's poor master can get into king's cottage with borrowed clothes. This is a second example how clothes make the man.

Well, clothes are still not enough. Puss in boots must provide some evidence about his master's wealth as well. He can't invite a princess to the mill which is by the way owned by his master's brother. He needs large property and a castle.

To achieve that, he threatens all sorts of people working by the road to lie about the ownership of the land. Apparently his words are convincing again.

For the final, the most risky move, a cat enters the castle owned by an ogre with magic powers (shape shifting). With simple yet effective flattery he convinces much more powerful opponent to change into a mouse, so he can eat him. Now his master can become the new owner of the castle. The doors to marriage with the king's daughter are wide open!

Proper words in the right time and place are obviously more powerful than brute force and magic together. A cat manages to turn illusion of his master's wealth into reality, so both can make a huge jump on social ladder.

Did they deserve that? Maybe yes, maybe not. Can something like that happen in the real world? Always was, always will.


Illustration by Frederic Theodore Lix
Illustration by Frederic Theodore Lix

Who is the author of Puss in boots?

Although Charles Perrault wrote this tale as first, it is no secret, he got inspiration from from Neapolitan's poet Giambattista Basile's Tale of the Tales and the story titled Gagliuso (also known as Caglioso) with very similar plot but slightly different message. Basile's version is about ingratitude of the master who doesn't appreciate cat's help, while Perrault's offers happy ending for both.

It is not hard to find similarities of Puss in the Boots with life of Charles Perrault, who wrote the story when he was way above 60 years old and already had all kinds of experience as a secretary in the court of Louis XIV. Just like the title character of the story he climbed the social ladder dealing with many dangerous and powerful opponents by the way.

He was able to see how important is an image and one of the main messages of the fairy tale is actually Clothes make the man, what is pretty cynical if we think of this fairy tale as a story for kids.

With grown up audience in mind (and this was Perrault's only target) undertones of the tale become much more understandable. He also had a chance to experience the limitations of his position where he got tremendous power and a lot of money but was still excluded from some areas of power because he was not born in a noble family.

In a way he was the real Puss in the Boots, unimportant Pawn on the chessboard of life who played all the right moves and achieved numerous benefits while the final promotion to the Queen (or at least Knight) stayed out of touch for him no matter what he did.


Word or two about illustrations ...

All presented images (except from YouTube and Amazon) are in public domain. They are work of Harry Clarke, Walter Crane and Carl Offterdinger, who all died more than 70 years ago. All presented illustrations were also published before 1923. For more info (and many more pictures from this popular story) follow this address:

http://topillustrations.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/puss-in-boots-by-various-authors/

Why audio book?

This powerful fairy tale with all its colorful interpretations is a perfect base for a dramatized presentation on different media. Audio book is great option to introduce the kids to the classic story and show them how to make one dream come true.

As Puss in Boots shows us, one truth may not be enough!

© 2013 Tolovaj

Do you find tricksters in fairy tales as appropriate role models for kids?

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    • Tolovaj profile image
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      Tolovaj 2 years ago

      Wov, that is new even to me. Great to hear about this particular twist on the popular tale which actually started as a story about a fox. Thanks, alancaster149 for sharing this interesting info!

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Over here 'Puss in Boots' is a regular turn on the Christmas and New Year pantomime circuit, and seen as an extension of the Dick Whittington story

      (Richard Whittington was thrice Lord Mayor of London at the time of the Black Death or Bubonic plague, who brought in cats from the east to combat the infestation of black rats, the plague carriers). Puss in Boots is with Dick in the popular tale where, standing on Highgate Hill he hears the bells of the City of London ring out: 'Turn again Whittington!'

      Just goes to show how many versions there are of the same tale.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      One of my favorites as well:) Thanks for your visit, Sandyspider, it's always a pleasure to see your avatar!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I just love Puss in Boots. Very interesting.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      It's a classic with many known variations. Don't miss it:)

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Thank you for stopping by, vespawoolf!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      I have not heard of this story. I would be searching this book online and maybe watch the film, too. Thanks for sharing.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

      I love analyzing fairy tales. Most of them carry adult messages and are much deeper than what meets the eye. Thank you for summarizing puss n boots and sharing its possible origins.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Yes, cats are much more popular than foxes (in older version this role was 'played' by the fox) and kids probably like tales with tricksters, because they give them hope to defeat much stronger enemies (grown-ups).

      To motivate more people reading originals is one of my initial intentions ... In your case - mission completed:)

    • BNadyn profile image

      Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      I prefer books much more but like to watch movies, too. I enjoyed this hub and learned a lot, I honestly didn't know much about this story but I think that it makes sense that it wasn't originally meant for children. I can see why a cat in the story would appeal to children, however, since most of them adore cats! Also, maybe because the cat here is a trickster which kids find entertaining, too. I'm interested in reading this original tale now. :)

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      There is also Brother Rabbit in Uncle Remus stories and a jackal in many Asian and African folktales ... I think this kind of stories are more 'folk' and the ones with knights, dragons and ladies in trouble more 'nobility'. It interesting to see when both worlds clashes, like this happened in Puss in the boots.

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      Well, in classic Jamaican folk tales, the hero is Anansi, who also uses cunning and wit to get ahead in life. Interesting discussion.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      The exploration of fairy tales and their history can be pretty amusing hobby:)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      It is interesting to hear the detail behind the fairy tales. I never thought of it quite this way.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      It's one of my favorites, but different than majority, isn't it? Thanks, DDE!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting about Puss in Boots I used like this tale but as much as I did others like Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      You are welcome, That Grrrl, for your kind visit. I have written few thoughts about that particular fairy tale too:)

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 3 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for your comment on my post about pressing flowers. You've got some interesting posts. I like hearing the history of the written fairytales. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Thank you very much:)

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      Popping in to Pin this.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Glad to hear that, you are very kind, mecheshier:)

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      It is a fascinating story after all ... Thank you very much, Deborah-Diane!

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      I learned so much about Puss in Boots from this article. Fascinating!

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 3 years ago

      I love your take on this classic old story. Well said! And hats off to you. Thank you for a great read. Voted up!

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Yes, Puss in Boots is probably not the best role model, but on the other hand we have a saying 'Nobody is so bad he can't be used at least as bad example...' Thanks for stopping by!

    • VioletteRose profile image

      VioletteRose 3 years ago from Chicago

      I have never read this story or watched the movie. This may not give a good model for kids, but I can definitely enjoy it :)

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Although I haven't seen it yet, I bet it was!

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      The movie was quite fun.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Tricksters are my kind of heroes too. Brave Little Tailor is probably my favorite:)

      Thanks for stopping by, FlourishAnyway!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I enjoy the cunning and trickery that such characters introduce in stories. I also enjoyed reading this hub!

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Movies are great but book is still my number one choice. Especially fairy tales with all their mysterious backgrounds. Thanks for stopping by, VVanNess!

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      I love watching movies, but books are definitely my thing. Especially with these older versions of fairy tales, the books are going to reveal so much more about the original story than a movie will.

      I love all of these beautiful stories! Thank you for the beautiful analysis.

    • Tolovaj profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Talking about manipulative animals... In older versions of the story we have a fox instead of the cat.

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      mariewj 3 years ago

      I've seen that movie which was quite funny but book versions are normally better in my opinion. There is no doubt that cats are very clever and often manipulative in getting what they want - ours will whine, claw at the carpet, howl, run around, make as much noise as possible and even jump on you just to get fed when she wants!