Illustration by Arthur Rackham in Steel, Flora Annie. English Fairy Tales. New York: Macmillan Company, 1918.

“The Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Joseph Jacobs

I thought I knew the story of the Three Little Pigs. They each build a house, the wolf blows down the first two and those pigs run and join the third in his brick house that the wolf can’t destroy. Not exactly.

It’s true, the three little pigs leave home to make their ways in the world. Three is a common number in fairy tales by the way, with the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” coming to mind quickly. Anyway, the first pig meets a man who gives him straw to build a house. After he builds it along comes the wolf. Politely the wolf first knocks.

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in.” To which the pig answered:

“No, no, by the hair of my chiny chin chin.” The wolf then answered to that:

(Imagine, the pig didn’t want to let the wolf in to eat him. So the pig’s not entirely stupid.)

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”
So he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew his house in, and ate up the little pig.

Yep, the wolf eats the pig. He eats the second pig too, after blowing in his stick house.

The third pig built his house with bricks and the wolf can’t blow it in, so he decides to trick the pig. The wolf first says he will take the pig to a field of turnips, then an apple tree the next day, and finally a fair. Each time the pig goes to the spot before he is supposed to meet the wolf, gets whatever tempting thing is there and makes it home before he is eaten.

The wolf finally gets angry and declares he will come down the chimney and eat the pig.

When the little pig saw what he was about, he hung on the pot full of water, and made up a blazing fire, and, just as the wolf was coming down, took off the cover, and in fell the wolf; so the little pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happy ever afterwards.

So, out of the four characters, only one makes it to the happily ever after. In this fairy tale, we have the weaker, smaller creature winning by outwitting the stronger, more powerful one, a common theme in fairy tales. I like that so often the underdog comes out on top. Some other I can think of that fit that theme, off the top of my head are “Boots Who Ate a Match with the Troll”, “Hansel and Grethel”, and Momotaro the Peach Boy. In each, the good guys have to use their intelligence to win the day. I actually think I like this type of tale better than the ones where the girl get the happy ending because she’s nice and pretty. In these, whether the main character is a child or a pig, he or she shows some spunk, some smarts; they’re not passive, they can’t afford to be.

This version of “The Three Little Pigs” is from Joseph Jacobs’ English Fairy Tales, 1890. It can be found on-line several places, including here.

Challenge: Fairy tale

Friday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. I would love it if you joined me. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, share with us. If you have a link, please include it in your comment.


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