Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Instructions


As I am short of time this weekend, I thought I would just jot down my thoughts on instructions, or should I say what happens when you ignore instructions. If you think about it, in most myths and fairytales there always instructions about how to achieve your destiny or your task. You might have to knock on something a set number of times or answer a set of questions in a certain way. Usually things come in sets of three, a favourite number in myths and tales. The downside happens, when instructions are disobeyed. I will now open up this can of worms. Have you noticed in these myths and tales how many times it is a woman who disobeys the instuctions and faces the dire consequences? Hmm lets just look at this.

The oldest tale of all, Adam and Eve. They can have anything they want or desire except the fruit of one little old apple tree, so what happens? Yes the serpent keeps up a continuous whispering in Eve's ear until she knows that nothing else will satisfy her except a bite of one of those little apples, I often wonder did they look bright red and juicy or were they small, sour wizened specimens. Whatever, she caved in and crunch, bite, 'you try some too Adam' and bang goes the Garden of Eden. Later on in the bible we have Lot's wife, who has an inclination to disobey instructions. On leaving Sodom and Gomorrah, they are distinctly told not to look back and keep going forward, so what does she find irristible, yes, of course, looking back, and what does she do at the last moment? Yes, thats right. Well there would be no shortage of salt now.



Move onto Greek myth and who do we find tripping happily over Elysian lawns, oh yes, our happy girly, Pandora. 'Whoops' she shouts as she stumbles over a box. 'I wonder who left that there and what could be in it? 'Don't open it.' all her friends call, 'It could contain something bad.' Does ditsy Pandora take heed, no not a chance, up goes the lid and out comes all the troubles and tribulations that now populate the world.


Now, personally, I don't think I would really care to be married to a man with a blue beard, but on the other hand, he was exceedingly rich and had an enormous castle, so that could have swayed his new pretty young wife. Now this husband, Bluebeard, has to go onto a trip, so he says, 'Look, while I'm away invite your relations to stay, eat anything you like, explore any room in the castle you like, but please see this little door here, right at the top, tucked away in a tower, well I would rather you didn't go in there, but here's the key anyway. Back in a couple of months dear, bye.' Well, hey-ho, what does little miss wifey do? A week or so goes by and guess what, she bored and, of course, curious, so she hotfoots it up to the tiny room at the top of tower, without a second thought the key is in the lock and turning, the door opens and there you are the grisly secrets of her husband exposed. Now the outcome of this depends on which version you read, she is either saved at the vital moment, after her husband returns and has the knife at her throat, or I'm, afraid, kaput, its all over for her.



The question is are these tales are written by men who are determined to make women look weak, simple and incapable of controling their curiosity, or is that just how we are contrary creatures, who won't be bossed around? Having started looking at the idea of women who don't follow instructions, I find I want to do some more research on this aspect of fairy tales and see where it takes me. I look at it this way, when I see a sign saying 'Wet Paint', I invariably reach out with the tip of one finger to see if it is. I don't think I could resist doing what was done in any of the above situations, but then I was the child that used to creep downstairs again after bedtime and hide behind the living sofa, until I was found, because I could never believe there was not a fantastic party happening after I had been told it was bedtime.

I'll leave you with this one last thought. There was a girl who did obey instructions, as she was a polite, well brought up little girl, if the bottle said 'Drink Me' she did and if the cake said 'Eat me', naturally she consumed it. Her name was Alice and look at the scrapes she got into.


14 comments:

Lisa said...

Ha! Delightful observations. I really enjoyed this post.

Lisa (oceandreamer) said...

as always a top notch post...I am afraid I have been known to be like that from time to time throughout my life. It's the DON'T part that seems to be the trigger. lol!
xoxo

Janet said...

This is a wonderful subject to explore! I'm afraid I don't like to be told not to do something. It's then that I absolutely HAVE to do whatever it is!

Rowan said...

What a fascinating post Daisy, I'm afraid I'm a law-abiding type so would probably be a bit like Alice and would be changing size left,right and centre. I really look forward to hearing more about the results of your research on this subject. However, it occurs to me, old -fashioned and rather anti-feminist as I am, that all these tales and myths originated from men! I leave you with that thought!

Terri /Tinker said...

Excellent post, Daisy! Although I've tried (at times!) to follow instructions, it doesn't seem to come naturally...Would love to hear more as you research this.
I'm fascinated by the whole Joseph Campbell-Power of Myth idea.

Gemma said...

Hmmmm....Fairy tales and Myths by men who were frightened of the Goddess...
written to keep women under control....and change Goddess into God(mans image)...maybe?
Daisy can't wait to see what your research finds.

Sigrun said...

Oh, a painting of my favorite Rossetti! I love all his paintings. Do you also?

Sigrun

miss*R said...

as usual, your words make me think and my soul to stir.
I hate being 'bossed' by anyone - always the rebel and it has often got me into hot water.
I think I would have obeyed the eat me and drink me though - more out of curiosity !

PEA said...

I loved reading this post...never really thought about how women are always depicted that way! I don't really call it curiosity, I think we just have a mind of our own and do what we want...unfortunately we sometimes get in trouble for that, just like these women in history and tales! lol Hugs xox

Beth said...

Tell me not to do something if you really want me to do it,,lol. Great post again, Delightful Daisy.
I am afraid to tell you this,,but ,,,you must NOT go to my blog,,because you might be tagged.
(so that will make you go there,,right?)
xoxoxoxo

Maryellen said...

Please please please please drop by my blog and tell me who the artist is that did the Red Dress picture. I am an art enthusiast and have never seen this. I simply must know.

On another note I never look at instructions until I give up and realize I can't - but let me tell ya that takes a really long time. LOL

Pretty Lady said...

It is hard to follow instructions for me sometimes, too, and I have wondered why, your posting made think again in a different way this time. Thank you! Great writing!

Maryellen said...

Hi Daisy: I'll tell you what I've been telling others. I'd love to do a swap, but I'm not going to start for a month while I build up a little stock of them. I don't want to feel pressured. I don't like to be rushed doing art works. So, let me develop a style here, and meanwhile we can enjoy each others posts. Thank your for your generous comments. Looking at your cards, I am indeed flattered.

PG said...

I did a dissertation on the origins of Cinderella once, and had to research fairy tales as part of that. It's hard, if not impossible to pinpoint the exact 'writer' of them, as they were simply tales told by the folk, presumably round fires and as a way to pass the time. So there would be a lot of stereotyping, as that is what humans tend to do, the inquisitive wife is as much a cartoon character as, say, Wiley Coyote, whose only purpose is to repeat his eternal mistake of trying to catch Roadrunner, and coming to misfortune by his own stupidity. We enjoy it becasue we more or less know the pattern the sotry will take. Today we have 'chavs' as a typical stereotype and they pop up in our own shared 'folklore' such as 'Little Britain'/Vicky Pollard. Fairy tales reflect the society they come from, so it's not surprising women tend to get a raw deal in them, considering we've only had the vote relatively recently! Have you read the works of Marina Warner, such as 'from the Beast to the Blonde? If not, then I highly recommend it for more research into the areas you are interested in, she tends to deal with gender stereotyping in myths and fairy tales...