The Good Maiden and the Step-mother
The story of the Good Maiden and the Step-mother is about an orphaned girl who had to suffer in the hands of her guardian, the step-mother. The story takes us through the good maiden’s life in misery. The step-mother appears to have one core mission in this story and that is to make the maiden’s life a living hell. She commits a high level of monstrosity to the maiden in a bid to make her life unbearable. Although the maiden has to undergo all the animosity from her step-mother she does not despair but instead, she seeks divine intervention.
The divine intervention which the good maiden searched for comes in the form of an old woman. The old woman assists the good maiden to complete unimaginable tasks that the cruel step-mother had left for her. The story of the Good Maiden and the Step-mother has its embedded message well illustrated through the themes employed by the author. The story adopts the theme of cultural value, fear, growth, change and moral principles. This paper shall proceed to provide an insight into the aforementioned themes so as to enable the reader of the folktale to better comprehend it.
Folktales embrace several cultures and a mammoth chronological area. The story of the Good Maiden and the Step-mother encompasses a geographical and chronological area that should not be ignored since ignorance of such vital pieces of information hinders the interpreter from comprehending cognitive, psychological and emotional facets of the traits in the story. Folktales and myths often create divergence of reality. They transform the black and white situations to sheds of grey authenticity. Like any other folktale or myth, the story of the Good Maiden and the Step-mother has adopted the mode of embroidering the concerns and the potential resolutions.
An illustration from the story is when the step-mother orders the maiden to construct for her a castle at the valley and to complete it by the end of the day. The resolution presented itself in the form of a magical old lady who appears and builds the castle on her behalf and completes it in time. However, how much the story has been exaggerated it must possess a coding of cultural importance.
The cultural significance of a story is revealed through vigilant analysis of the polarization of reality as brought out through the story. This story is pervaded by an issue of child abuse which elicits different reactions which are rooted in our culture. The story reveals that in the ancient world the act of child abuse was an expected issue which people did not shun. The society had not formulated social policies that would act to safeguard the welfare of children. This aspect is completely different from the way things are in the modern world. In the modern setting, things have changed since the contemporary culture is that there are rights for every individual in society.
Another important theme in this story is the never-ending battle between good and evil. The battle of good and evil in this story is depicted in the interactions between the step-mother and the maiden. The step-mother represented the evil side since her sole goal is to make the maiden’s life wretched. On the other hand, the maiden is considered to be on the good side since she portrays the image of an innocent girl who is constantly being exploited by her step-mother.
Furthermore, the maiden asks for divine intervention in her turbulent times, which appears in the form of the old lady who can be considered in this context the guardian angel. The step-mother was considered evil since she gave the maiden impossible tasks such as scooping water from a pond with a spoon which has holes on it. The maiden completed this task with the help of the old lady (her guardian angel). The aforementioned statement serves as a good illustration of the war between good and evil.
The story reveals the theme of fear through the character of the good maiden. The good maiden is compelled by the fear she has for her step-mother to go ahead and do tasks which she knows it is physically impossible to be completed in the stipulated time. Conversely, the step-mother instils fear in the maiden by issuing threats in the event that the good maiden fails to accomplish the task in the time stipulated she shall suffer the consequence.
A clear illustration of this is when the maiden is ordered to collect a couple of pounds of a feather by the end of the day. Failure to do so would be met with physical violence. The maiden out of fear begins to pile up the feathers while crying for she clearly knew she would not complete the task in time. Luckily, the old lady appears and helps her accomplish the task while she rested.
The theme of transition is well employed in the story of the Good Maiden and the Step-mother. The maiden in this story was subjected to harsh treatment throughout her life since her biological mother’s death. The step-mother who was perceived to be her guardian and protector turned on her and subjected her to despicable monstrosity. This can be asserted to be a character change from a maternal sense to despicable acts. Another form of change that can be illustrated from the story is the transition of the good maiden life from absolute poverty to great wealth.
The story commences with the good maiden assuming a role that is depicted to be of poverty. She did the house chores and other hard labour. But after the old lady constructed the castle for her step-mother, she suggested to her that the castle and all other wealth correlated to it will be hers. This eventually came to pass after her step-mother dies while she is in the castle’s cellar carrying out inspections. Consequent to this act the maiden assumes possession of the castle and other wealth such as pearls, gold and fancy clothes.
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