Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jack and the Giants

Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of a really cool hero. And they are . . .

For years I thought the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer were one and the same. After all, they're both stories about a boy named Jack who kills a giant. However, I recently learned that they're actually not the same at all.

Jack the Giant Killer is the eldest of the two, dating back to the Arthurian legends. Though he's a mere farmer's son, Jack is clever and quick-witted, using his brain rather than brawn to get him out of various scrapes. His keen intellect saves him from giant foe, as he lures them to their deaths and earning himself the monicker "The Giant Killer". He rescues many including a princess and King Arthur's son  and is rewarded with riches, a seat at the famed Round Table, and a Duke's daughter for a wife. 

Jack and the Beanstalk would be something like the Giant Killer's son, Jack, Jr. He follows his own path, but finds many of his origins in the previous tale, most notably the name of the Giant he eventually kills. However, where the first Jack is the epitome of Arthurian honor, rewarded for his good deeds, this Jack can be considered more of an anti-hero. He rashly exchanges his cow (his family's one and only source of income) for magic beans and steals his riches from the giant he finds at the top of the beanstalk. Though of course he does have to use his own cunning to evade and kill the giant now bent on revenge. 

But regardless of the two Jacks' differences, the stories share a common theme in that they're both tales of upward mobility. The two Jacks rise above their humble roots through resourcefulness and (this should go without saying) giant slaying, rather than marriage, the most common means of social climbing for that time period. 

My favorite version:
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013 film)
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This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. My theme (in case you didn't already guess) is Fairy Tales. Stay tuned for the rest of the alphabet, and if you'd like to check out the other participants, simply click here.

16 comments:

  1. Of these tales, I don't think I've ever heard of "Jack the Giant Killer" before, but I would've assumed it was the same as "Jack and the Beanstalk," too!

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  2. I didn't realize they were two separate stories. I liked last year's movie as well.

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  3. Well, I always learn something new here. And now I have another movie to add to my list for viewing. Thanks

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  4. I've always thought that the deeper you plunge into fairy tales, the more layers there are to uncover. So much to learn about long-ago cultures and about universal human motivations! Thank you for finding me on the A to Z Challenge so I could find you in return!

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  5. I've always loved both these stories - actually favouring Jack The Giant Killer.
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

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  6. I've enjoyed your posts! It is fun to see new movies being made from fairy tales:)

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  7. Good ole Jack(s). They are resourceful and know how to stand up to a challenge

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  8. I have that very same picture of Jack! I got it out of some magazine or other YEARS ago and laminated it. It reminds me that no matter what the difficulties, they can be over-come. And while I'm doing that, I can stop and enjoy the view as well!

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  9. It's interesting how similar the two tales are. I'd only heard of Jack and the Beanstalk until the movie for Jack the Giant Killer came out.

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  10. I had no idea they were two different stories in the first place, I thought they were just different versions. I really liked Jack the Giant Slayer. I mean, anything with Ewan MacGregor really. ;)

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  11. Thanks for explaining the difference between the two. I think many people are unaware there's a difference.

    Precious Monsters

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  12. Hello there. Thanks for sharing. All the best with the challenge!
    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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  13. I love both Jacks even if the second has questionable morals. Good post :)

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  14. Hope you enjoying the challenge - great theme. Bonjour from France http://detoutcoeurlimousin.blogspot.fr/2014/04/kindness-be-kind-whenever-possible-it.html

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  15. Wow- I've never heard of the original version (Jack the Giant Killer). I might need to find that one.

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  16. I had never heard of the Giant Killer. Love learning new things during the challenge! :)

    Random Musings from the KristenHead — J is for Jumping Cats and Dogs!

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