Double Trouble

In the fairy tale, “Little Brother and Little Sister,” doubling is one of the main themes of the story. Little Brother and Little Sister both share the title of the hero of the story, and as a result, many of Vladimir Propp’s fairy tale functions are doubled to match the doubling of the hero. The doubling of the fairy tale functions is particularly evident in the doubling of the villain. It is very obvious at the beginning of the story that the stepmother is the villain. She beats the children on a daily basis and she is later shown to be a witch when she curses the brooks to change Little Brother and Little Sister into beasts. Strangely, a second villain shows up in the story.

The king and his huntsmen arrive in the story and hunt down Little Brother. The narrator says, “[T]he fawn ran off into the forest, and he was so glad to be out in the open that he bounded with joy. The king and his huntsmen say the beautiful beast and chased him […]” (Grimm et al. 42). While the king and his huntsmen turn out to be friendly to Little Brother and Little Sister, in this case, they function in this case as second villain of the story, and the hunt of Little Brother acts as Propp’s fairy tale function number sixteen, direct combat between the hero and the villain. While Propp’s fairy tale functions allow for a false hero (function twenty four and twenty eight), his functions do not allow for a false villain; however, the king and his huntsmen act in the role of the false villain.

My notion of a fairy tale function for a false villain would work similarly to Propp’s fairy tale function number twenty four and twenty eight regarding the false hero. However, instead of the false villain presenting unfounded claims as the false hero does, the false villain is the victim of unfounded claims generated by the villain. Instead being exposed like the false hero would be, the false villain begins to see through the deceit created by the true villain. In this case, the king and his huntsmen believe Little Brother to be a forest beast and not a cursed boy. When the truth is revealed, they lend aid to Little Brother and Little Sister and help them defeat the stepmother.

 

 

Works Cited

Grimm, J., et al. “Little Brother and Little Sister.” Grimms Tales for Young and Old. Anchor Books/Doubelday, 1983.

Propp, V. “Morphology of the Folktale” University of Texas Press. 1968.

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