Good Example Of The Supernatural And Good Vs. Evil In “One-Eye, Two-Eyes, And Three-Eyes” Essay
The German fairy tale, “One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-eyes” by the Brothers Grimm focuses on a conflict between good vs. evil, and features a supernatural narrative. In the story there are three sisters. The eldest has one eye in the middle of her forehead, the middle daughter has two regular eyes, and the youngest has three eyes. The daughter with regular eyes, Little Two Eyes, is the central hero of the story. She is a typical fairy tale protagonist; a victim who overcomes adversity with the help of a supernatural ally to leave her oppressive life behind, to live happily ever after. Her family is evil, and treat her badly simply because she is different from them. She is forced to wear dirty rags and go hungry, eating only leftovers. The story is also a morality tale of compassion, jealousy, good deeds and the triumph of good over evil. The supernatural elements of the story are used to emphasis traditional Christian morality and ideals. Like many folk narratives, it is also a cautionary tale about the consequences of bad behavior and violations of cultural norms, and the magical forces of nature that are necessary to restore order and set things right.
The story follows a traditional Grimm Brothers narrative formula. Little Two Eyes is sent to work in the field with her goat. She is a victim of unfair oppression, hungry, depressed and exploited for labor. She starts crying because she is hungry and magically, from her tears, a wise woman appears and is concerned with her plight. From her adversity, comes hope and positivity. The women, a supernatural force of good, teaches Little Two Eyes a magical poem to say to the goat to create a beautiful table with all the food she can eat. The wise woman is a supernatural ally, and represents God, or nature, and the power of good against evil. As a force of nature, she is fixing what is “wrong”, the violation of collectively constructed norms and values. Little Two Eyes is no longer hungry, and stops eating the leftovers, which makes her sisters suspicious, suspecting someone is giving her food. The next day, Little One Eye follows her and the goat out to the field, but is foiled when Little Two Eyes sang a song that put her to sleep. Little Two Eyes is a resourceful hero, and again the them of magic and the supernatural is infused into the story. The next day, Little Three Eyes followed her to the field and is also sung to sleep, but one of her eyes remains awake and sees Little Two Eyes enjoy her magical feast. Her mother is so outraged that Little Two eyes was enjoying better food than the rest of the family, she kills the goat, a magical creature who represents natural abundance and agrarian health, was Little Two Eyes only freedom from the hungers and deprivation of her everyday life.
Little Two Eyes runs away and sobs. The wise woman appears again to help, advising her to bury the goat heart. The mysterious woman is there again to right injustices. After burying the goat heart, a tree grows with gold and silver fruit. The mother and other sisters are greedy and try to retrieve the fruit, but are not able to pick off the gold or silver. Only Little Two Eyes can pick the fruit. Instead of treating her better, or rewarding her good fortune, her family is jealous and treats her even worse. One day, a noble Knight stops and admires the tree, and the mother and sisters hide Little Two Eyes so the knight can not meet her. They seem to sense that good things may happen to Little Two Eyes, because she is a good person. The Knight tells them he would give them anything they want for some of the beautiful fruit, but the sisters are unable to pick fruit. The Knight demands to see Little Two Eyes, and the sisters warn him that “She’s different, so we can’t let anyone see her” (Brothers Grimm) The Knight is intrigued. “But I want to see her. Young lady, please come out! My word! She’s the loveliest young lady I’ve ever seen!” (Brothers Grimm). Little Two Eyes retrieves the fruit, and he tells her she can have anything she wanted. Not surprisingly, she only wants to leave her rotten family and goes off to live with the Knight in a castle, where they fell in love and married. The tree dies and is reborn outside the castle. The two sisters became beggars, and are eventually taken in by Little Two Eyes. They repent for being mean to her and learn the errors of their ways.
“One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes” is similar to many Grimm stories, with evil sisters and mother who torment a good child for no good reason. The protagonist is aided by a supernatural helper, who may represent God or other higher natural power, and it follows a narrative formula of an oppressed hero who faces trials and tribulations, receives aid, is recognized as noble and good, and features a happy ending. Little Two Eyes was mistreated by her sisters. However, she still has compassion for them when she sees they are hungry and homeless. She is fundamentally a good person, a generous and beautiful person that the magical woman and the Knight recognize immediately. As a force of good against evil, she accepts her sisters and saves them from homelessness and hunger, even though she mistreated her. She has no grudges and knows how to forgive, which are also important cultural values.
In The Hard Facts of the Grim Fairy Tales, Maria Tatar outlines the literary features of traditional fairy tale, which features a central figure who is a victimized hero, who is aided by supernatural forces. “One-Eye, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes” is an example of a “magic tale” which focuses on family conflict, with “hero against parent, then often puts the hero at a further disadvantage by allying siblings (usually of the same sex as the hero) with that parent” (Tatar 61). These types of traditional folktales feature the supernatural as an accepted part of everyday reality. In the story, the sisters and mother are never surprised that Little Two Eyes is able to create a feast from a goat or a magical tree. It is seen as normal. The central hero, with the help of supernatural allies, moves from the drab and oppressive reality to a shining new world, where their good nature is rewarded with eternal wealth and happiness. Like the protagonist of other magic tales, Little Two Eyes is a “secular traveler between two worlds, a secular pilgrim on the road to wealth and marriage” (Tatar 61). As a morality tale, the story uses the supernatural to teach real life lessons about values that were important to people at the time, including accepting differences and diversity, being a good person, and not exploiting others. Folklore is used a literary genre because it is effective at transmitting cultural values, conventions and psychological ideas.
Magic and the supernatural appeal to younger audiences. Today, fairy tales are still told to children, and science fiction is a similar and popular genre used for storytelling for all ages. At the time, fairytales were not only entertaining, they were educational texts used to socialize children and instill societal moral values. The magical and supernatural were used as both entertaining plot device, and ideological tool. The wise woman represents a higher intelligence, a spiritual force that governs the universe and maintains societal stability. Like traditional religious texts, which often use parables and supernatural narratives to portray conflicts and reinforce ideas, fairy tales were used to teach children a code of morality and point out qualities and behaviors that were unacceptable to society.
Brothers Grimm. "One-Eye! Two-Eyes! Three-Eyes! A Very Grimm Fairy Tale."One- Eye! Two-Eyes! Three-Eyes! Told by Shepard, Aaron. (Grimm, Fairy Tales, German Folktales). N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.
Tatar, Maria. The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales. Princeton University Press, 2003.
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