There once lived a man who had fine houses, both in the city and in the country, dinner services
of gold and silver, chairs covered with tapestries, and coaches covered with gold. But this man had the
misfortune of having a blue beard, which made him look so ugly and frightful that women and girls alike
fled at the sight of him. One of his neighbors, a respectable lady, had two daughters who were perfect
beauties. He asked for the hand of one, but left it up to the mother to choose which one. Neither of the
two girls wanted to marry him, and the offer went back and forth between them, since they could not
bring themselves to marry a man with a blue beard. What added even more to their sense of disgust
was that he had already married several women, and no one knew what had become of them. In order
to cultivate their acquaintance, Bluebeard threw a party for the two girls with their mother, three or
four of their closest friends, and a few young men from the neighborhood in one of his country houses.
It lasted an entire week. Every day there were parties of pleasure, hunting, fishing, dancing, and dining.
The guests never even slept, but cavorted and caroused all night long. Everything went so well that the
younger of the two sisters began to think that the beard of the master of the house was not so blue
after all and that he was in fact a fine fellow. As soon as they returned to town, the marriage was
celebrated. After a month had passed, Bluebeard told his wife that he had to travel to take care of some
urgent business in the provinces and that he would be away for at least six weeks. He urged her to enjoy
herself while he was away, to invite her close friends and to take them out to the country if she wished.
Above all, she was to stay in good spirits. “Here,” he said, “are the keys to my two large store rooms.
Here are the ones for the gold and silver china that is too good for everyday use. Here are the ones for
my strongboxes, where my gold and silver are kept. Here are the ones for the caskets where my jewels
are stored. And finally, this is the passkey to all the rooms in my mansion. As for this particular key, it is
the key to the small room at the end of the long passage on the lower floor. Open anything you want.
Go anywhere you wish. But I absolutely forbid you to enter that little room, and if you so much as open
it a crack, there will be no limit to my anger.” She promised to follow the orders he had just given
exactly. After kissing his wife, Bluebeard got into the carriage and embarked on his journey. Friends and
neighbors of the young bride did not wait for an invitation before coming to call, so great was their
impatience to see the splendors of the house. They had not dared to call while the husband was there,
because of his blue beard, which frightened them. In no time they were darting through the rooms, the
closets, and the wardrobes, each of which was more splendid and sumptuous than the next. Then they
went upstairs to the storerooms, where they could not find words to describe the number and beauty of
the tapestries, beds, sofas, cabinets, stands, and tables. There were looking glasses, in which you could
see yourself from head to toe, some of which had frames of glass, others of silver or gilded lacquer, but
all of which were more splendid and magnificent than anyone there had ever seen. They kept on
expressing praise even as they felt envy for the good fortune of their friend who, however, was unable
to take any pleasure at all from the sight of these riches because she was so anxious to get into that
room on the lower floor. So tormented was she by her curiosity that, without stopping to think about
how rude it was to leave her friends, she raced down a little staircase so fast that more than once she
thought she was going to break her neck. When she reached the door to the room, she stopped to think
for a moment about how her husband had forbidden her to enter, and she reflected on the harm that
might come her way for being disobedient. But the temptation was so great that she was unable to
resist it. She took the little key and, trembling, opened the door. At first she saw nothing, for the
windows were closed. After a few moments, she began to realize that the floor was covered with clotted
blood and that the blood reflected the bodies of several dead women hung up on the walls (these were
all the women Bluebeard had married and then murdered one after another). She thought she would
die of fright, and the key to the room, which she was about to pull out of the lock, dropped from her
hand. When she regained her senses, she picked up the key, closed the door, and went back to her room
to compose herself. But she didn’t succeed, for her nerves were too frayed. Having noticed that the key
to the room was stained with blood, she wiped it two or three times, but the blood would not come off
at all. She tried to wash it off and even to scrub it with sand and grit. The bloodstain would not come off
because the key was enchanted and nothing could clean it completely. When you cleaned the stain from
one side, it just returned on the other. That very night, Bluebeard returned unexpectedly from his
journey and reported that, on the road, he had received letters informing him that the business upon
which he had set forth had just been settled to his satisfaction. His wife did everything that she could to
make it appear that she was thrilled with his speedy return. The next day, he asked to have the keys
back, and she returned them, but with a hand trembling so much that he knew at once what had
happened. “How is it,” he asked, “that the key to the little room isn’t with the others?” “I must have left
it upstairs on my dressing table,” she replied. “Don’t forget to bring it to me soon,” Bluebeard told her.
After making one excuse after another, she had to bring him the key. Bluebeard examined it and said to
his wife: “Why is there blood on this key?” “I have no idea,” answered the poor woman, paler than
death. “You have no idea,” Bluebeard replied. “But I have an idea. You tried to enter that little room.
Well, madam, now that you have opened it, you can go right in and take your place beside the ladies
whom you saw there.” She threw herself at her husband’s feet, weeping and begging his pardon, with all
the signs of genuine regret for disobeying him. She looked so beautiful and was so distressed that she
would have melted a heart of stone, but Bluebeard had a heart harder than any rock. “You must die,
madam,” he declared, “and it will be right away.” “Since I must die,” she replied, gazing at him with eyes
full of tears, “give me a little time to say my prayers.” “I will give you a quarter of an hour,” Bluebeard
said, “but not a moment more.” When she was alone, she called her sister and said to her: “Sister
Anne”—for that was her name—“I implore you to go up to the top of the tower to see if my brothers are
on the way here. They told me that they were coming to visit today. If you catch sight of them, signal
them to hurry.” Sister Anne went up to the top of the tower, and the poor distressed girl cried out to her
from time to time: “Anne, Sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?” Sister Anne replied: “I see nothing
but the sun shining and the green grass growing.” In the meantime, Bluebeard took an enormous cutlass
in hand and cried out at the top of his voice to his wife: “Come down at once or I’ll go up there!” “Just a
moment more, I beg you,” his wife replied and at the same time she called out softly: “Anne, Sister
Anne, do you see anyone coming?” And Sister Anne replied: “I see nothing but the sun shining and the
green grass growing.” “Come down at once,” Bluebeard called, “or I’ll go up there!” “I’m coming,” his
wife replied, and then she called: “Anne, Sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?” “I can see a great
cloud of dust coming this way,” replied Sister Anne. “Is it my brothers?” “No, oh no, sister, it’s just a
flock of sheep.” “Are you coming down?” Bluebeard roared. “Just one moment more,” his wife replied,
and then she called: “Anne, Sister Anne, do you see anyone coming?” “I see two horsemen coming this
way, but they’re still far away,” she replied. “Thank God,” she shouted a moment later, “it must be our
brothers. I’ll signal to them to hurry up.” Bluebeard began shouting so loudly that the entire house
shook. His poor wife came downstairs, in tears and with disheveled hair. She threw herself at his feet.
“That won’t do you any good,” said Bluebeard. “Prepare to die.” Then, taking her by the hair with one
hand and raising his cutlass with the other, he was about to chop off her head. The poor woman turned
to him and implored him with a gaze that had death written on it. She begged for one last moment to
prepare herself for death. “No, no,” he said, “prepare to meet your maker.” And lifting his arm … Just at
that moment there was such a loud pounding at the gate that Bluebeard stopped short. The gate was
opened, and two horsemen, swords in hand, dashed in and made straight for Bluebeard. He realized
that they were the brothers of his wife: the one a dragoon and the other a musketeer. He fled instantly
in an effort to escape. But the two brothers were so hot in pursuit that they trapped him before he
could get to the stairs. They plunged their swords through his body and left him for dead. Bluebeard’s
wife was as close to death as her husband and barely had the strength to rise and embrace her brothers.
It turned out that Bluebeard had left no heirs, and so his wife took possession of the entire estate. She
devoted a portion of it to arranging a marriage between her sister Anne and a young gentleman with
whom she had been in love for a long time. Another portion of it was used to buy commissions for her
two brothers. She used the rest to marry herself to a very worthy man, who banished the memory of
the miserable days she had spent with Bluebeard. Moral Curiosity, in spite of its many charms, Can bring
with it serious regrets; You can see a thousand examples of it every day. Women succumb, but it’s a
fleeting pleasure; As soon as you satisfy it, it ceases to be. And it always proves very, very costly.
Another Moral If you just take a sensible point of view, And study this grim little story, You will
understand that this tale Is one that took place many years ago. No longer are husbands so terrible,
Demanding the impossible, Acting unhappy and jealous. With their wives they toe the line; And
whatever color their beards might be, It’s not hard to tell which of the pair is master. † Charles Perrault,
“Le Barbe bleue,” in Histoires ou Contes du temps passé. Avec des Moralités (Paris: Barbin, 1697).
Translated for the first edition of this Norton Critical Edition by Maria Tatar. Copyright © 1999 Maria
The Classic Fairy Tales (Second Edition) (Norton Critical Editions) (Kindle Locations 5129-5235). W. W.
Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
Running head: BLUEBEARD BY CHARLES PERRAULT
Bluebeard by Charles Perrault
BLUEBEARD BY CHARLES PERRAULT
Bluebeard by Charles Perrault
My favorite story is The Bluebeard story by Charles Perrault portrays the Bluebeard as a
rich man with blue beards that makes most of the single women in the village to reject his
proposals. His appearance brings a lot of challenges for him in his dating life. Nevertheless,
Bluebeard has married several wives, but no one knew what happened with them. After inviting
a woman with her two daughters, he takes one of them as a bride. After a month in his marriage
with his newly wife, Bluebeard embarks on a journey but he leaves her wife behind. She was not
supposed to access a specific closest within the house. The wife out of curiosity decides to open,
she finds the bodies of several dead women scattered on the walls. Bluebeard find out that her
wife has disobeyed him. So, he decides to kill her, but her brothers save her. The way Charles
Perrault organizes the story it shows it is a perfect fairy tale.
I think that the story is about pure curiosity. Bluebeard left his wife with orders not to
visit the small room in the house. However, due to her curiosity, Bluebird’s wife decided to visit
and see for herself the contents of the room. The contents of the small room almost ended her life.
Moral curiosity applies as well when the friends of the wife could not wait until Bluebeard was
away to visit his wife. Neighbors and friends immediately visit Bluebeard’s house in his absence
but fear to visit whenever he might remain around. The rush to see Bluebeard’s property in his
lack shows curiosity. Bluebeard’s wife also remains curious about her brothers’ whereabouts by
asking her sister, Anne whether she sees them. Bluebeard’s wife consistently calls out to Anne
regarding her brothers, showing curiosity.
BLUEBEARD BY CHARLES PERRAULT
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