B1 Intermediate US 17 Folder Collection
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As kids we listen to fairytales and those stories stay with us for the rest of our lives.
In any given year movies are made about these stories, and while they can get a bit dark
they are usually very child-friendly.
But what if we told you that the origins of these stories are brutal?
What if you learned that your favorite fairy tale was based on something absolutely horrific?
Well, that's often the truth.
Little Red Riding Hood So, we all know the story about the girl who
is fooled by a wolf.
It's rather grim, but as kids we get through it.
In a book called “Sons of Cain” about serial killers penned by Peter Vronsky he
writes about how crazed killers in the past were sometimes accused of being werewolves.
These were especially brutal murders so society at times said a monster of a man must be behind
them.
Werewolves were taken seriously, and quite a few people were convicted of being one.
Many people back then just couldn't see how anything but a monster could do such terrible
things.
What we are saying is that this story could have been based on crazed maniacs.
Little Red Riding was written shortly Europe's werewolf epidemic from 1450 to 1650.
We saw the first printed version in 1697, although there would be many versions.
In this first version the girl is seduced by the wolf, takes off all her clothes, and
is basically savaged by the wolf and dies.
Vronsky calls it a “dark and vile horror story.”
In other versions the girl is likely based on a person who sells her own body.
Some scholars believe that the moral of the story is don't do this or you will get ripped
apart by a wolf.
It's a dark cautionary tale.
While in other versions the grandmother is cut up into small pieces, her blood is drained
and turned into a kind of wine, and the girl is tricked into eating and drinking her and
so becomes a cannibal.
The language is so strong in that version that we won't utter it today.
In yet another versions the girl plays along with the wolf and let's just say the story
has a very sexual slant.
She actually does a striptease for the wolf in one of the stories.
She also goes to bed with the wolf and before she is brutally killed by him, he has his
wicked way with her.
Vronsky writes that over the years we had to sanitize the story because the depravity
of Little Red Riding Hood just didn't sit well with more modern folks.
As you will see, we cleaned up a lot of fairytales.
Sleeping Beauty The 17th century version of this story has
been called by some people “deeply disturbing.”
You all know the version which involves a curse sending a woman into an eternal sleep
and a handsome prince coming to her aid.
Well, the original is slightly more horrific.
In a 17th century version written by a famous fairytale writer called Charles Perrault,
the beautiful woman is pretty much attacked in her sleep.
The man has her way with her.
In another version the same happens to the unfortunate woman, and these are some of the
lines: “Crying aloud, the king beheld her charms
and felt his blood course hotly through his veins.
He lifted her in his arms, and carried her to a bed, where he gathered the first fruits
of love.”
We think you can understand what actually happened in that scene, and it's not something
you'll see in a Disney movie.
In that same version she falls pregnant and has two kids in her sleep.
The babies then suck on Sleeping Beauty's fingers to try and wake her, and when she
does wake from her coma she has more trouble.
The king then comes back and he wants the kids he helped make.
He is married, though, to an evil woman.
She doesn't much like the fact her cheating husband goes to get these kids, at least in
one version, and she orders that the kids be killed and then fed to her wretched husband.
She does this, and all the while the king does not know what he is eating.
As he chomps down on the food the queen tells him, “Eat, eat, you are eating of your own.”
Lots more happens that you just couldn't' show to kids today, such as the Queen trying
to burn Sleeping Beauty to death, or Sleeping Beauty taking off all her clothes.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs We hate to burst your bubble, but this story
also has some pretty dark origins.
It's likely based on the life of a Bavarian noblewoman in the 16th century called Margarete
von Waldeck.
She was famed for her beauty and at a young age was sought after by many noblemen.
But the story takes shape, according to some scholars, because of child labor.
Let us explain.
Her father owned a copper mine and in that mine little children were sent to work.
They were the only ones small enough to do the job.
The labor was very hard and it's said this deformed some of those kids.
So, we have a beautiful woman and a load of deformed little kids doing hard labor.
All these kids lived in one house and they often wore bright hoods.
Some of them understandably didn't like the dangerous work, and it's said that if
any of them got on the wrong side of their employers they would be poisoned with nightshade.
That's where the poisoned apple comes from.
Margarete died at age 21, and it is suspected that she was poisoned.
It's said her father, who was the King of Spain, opposed her love affair and so he sent
assassins to kill her.
But even the Brothers Grimm version of this story is really dark.
Here is some text from that: “Finally she summoned a huntsman and said
to him, 'Take Snow White out into the woods to a remote spot, and stab her to death.
As proof that she is dead bring her lungs and her liver back to me.
I shall cook them with salt and eat them.”
This gives an entirely new meaning to evil queen.
Snow White gets her revenge on the evil queen, though, and this is how she did it:
“They put a pair of iron shoes into the fire until they glowed, and she had to put
them on and dance in them.
Her feet were terribly burned, and she could not stop until she had danced herself to death.”
Pinocchio The original version of Pinocchio was written
by a man called Carlo Collodi.
He never had kids and it's said that he hated them.
In his version all the kids in the story and terrible, greedy, the worst things on Earth
except for the naughty protagonist Pinocchio.
Experts say the bad behavior of the puppet and all the other kids in the story is not
supposed to be endearing.
It is a warning that kids are little devils, which at this time in history a lot of people
really believed.
In one version he wrote the puppet is strung up and hanged on a tree.
You can see just how much this man hated children.
This is some text from the hanging of Pinocchio: “A tempestuous northerly wind began to blow
and roar angrily, and it beat the poor puppet from side to side, making him swing violently,
like the clatter of a bell ringing for a wedding.
And the swinging gave him atrocious spasms.”
Yep, that's not exactly child-friendly.
The moral of the story is that if you are naughty you will be tortured and then murdered,
so this is quite extreme reading.
Pinocchio is just not nice at all.
He is a proper little rascal, and he kills the talking cricket with a hammer.
He often gets beat for his naughtiness, with the writer saying after one transgression
the puppet is tortured and is “so giddy with pain that stars of every color danced
before his eyes.”
In other scenes he is humiliated and faces greater pains.
It reads like the Marquis de Sade but for children.
This is basically a very extreme cautionary tale and it is no doubt a story of sadism.
They didn't have PTSD back then, well, at least they didn't have a term for it, but
we imagine after reading this story a lot of kids suffered from it.
You might have seen some of our other shows in which we referenced author Steven Pinker's
book on historical violence called, “The Better Angels of our Nature.”
Pinker details how before we had children's rights the “little devils” grew up amid
a lot of violence.
The story of Pinocchio stands as a testament to that.
Little Jack Horner This is such a nice nursery rhyme.
Here it is: “Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner, Eating his Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb, And pulled out a plum,
And said, "What a good boy am I!”
What could possibly be dark about that?
Well, some people think it was based on a guy called Thomas Horner.
He was the steward of a man who was the last abbot of Glastonbury before King Henry VIII
dissolved the monasteries in England.
The abbot's name was Richard Whiting.
As the story goes, Whiting sent Horner to London to meet the king.
With him was a great big pie and hidden in the pie were the deeds to lots of country
manors.
Whiting didn't want the king to nationalize the church lands.
The gift was supposed to impress Henry so he wouldn't do that.
It's said little Horner actually put his hands in the pie and took one of the manors
for himself.
As for Mr. Whiting, he was later hanged, drawn and quartered, and his head was removed and
stuck on a gate.
Cinderella In the 17th century version of this tale written
by Italian writer Giambattista Basile, Cinderella is basically a contract killer.
She is told by a governess to kill her own mother, which she does.
In the writer's words, “she snaps her step-mother's neck with the lid of a dressing
trunk.”
The governess then marries the father and Cinderella is sent to work in the kitchens.
This version then goes like the story we know.
She loses a slipper and meets a dashing prince.
But there is an earlier version written in Scotland and that was called “Rashin Coatie.”
In that story the stepmother cuts off little bits of Cinderella's feet so they'll be
too deformed to fit the slipper.
In yet another version, the evil sisters mutilate themselves and birds peck out their eyes.
Pied Piper of Hamelin This is the story you all know of the guy
that played a pipe and lured rats away from the town of Hamelin.
The towns folks, though, didn't actually pay him and so he lured the children away,
too.
In some versions he brings the children back when the money has been paid, but in other
versions he kills most of the kids by drowning them.
It's actually written that this town in the 14th century did have a lot of kids that
suddenly went missing.
They might have simply starved to death, but some theories suggest the kids were lured
away by pagans to perform ritual dancing.
They were then danced to death.
Other theories say the kids were forced to emigrate en-masse.
Life was tough back then and there is evidence of something called “dancing mania” happening
around Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Basically, a number of people would just start dancing really erratically.
This is sometimes called “mass psychogenic illness” and involves lots of people coming
down with the same malady at the same time.
It's literally collective madness.
In this case people would dance until they collapsed from exhaustion.
It was kind of a crazy rave for the hysterical.
We don't know if this is what happened to the missing kids of Hamelin, but you can be
sure that the Pied Piper story has some dark origins.
Just out of interest we tried to find modern examples of mass hysteria and we didn't
come up empty handed.
The Guardian reported in 2015 that it happened at a school in the UK.
One day girls at that school just started fainting.
One of the students said people were just falling like dominos, but the police and fire
department could find no reason for this.
It turned out it was mass psychogenic illness.
The Guardian interviewed a psychiatrist who said that it was actually quite common, and
schools are where it seems to happen a lot.
We found cases in countries around the world where this occurred, and it seems to happen
to females more than males.
Sometimes food or drink is at first blamed, but that wasn't the case at all.
In one of the stranger cases a bunch of girls in the school in New York in 2011 developed
facial tics, but it was just hysteria, not a medical problem.
So, which of these tales so you think is the most horrific?
Do you think Hollywood should try and recreate the originals?
Tell us in the comments.
Also, be sure to check out our other video Why Life During The Dark Ages Sucked.
Thanks for watching, and as always, don't forget to like, share and subscribe.
See you next time.
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How Disney Sanitized Fairy Tales That Were Originally Horror Stories

17 Folder Collection
Courtney Shih published on January 3, 2020
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