Tales of Beedle the Bard
Chapter Summary and Analysis - Part One
As JKR seemed to promise, although she was finished with "Harry," per se, we would see more of the wizarding world through some explanatory works that would capitalized on all the "back story" material she had developed for the books but never made it into print. Tales of Beedle the Bard played a significant role in the concluding book of the series and was ripe for expanding into such a work. Although it STILL doesn't reveal how Dumbledore obtained a scar in the shape of the London underground (a fact which fans have been dying to find out for years) it is, none-the-less, a breath of fresh wizarding air for readers who have suffered withdrawal pains since the series concluded.
And what a wonderful way to do it "discovered" notes from Dumbledore and a "translation" by Hermione. The original "Rowling" manuscripts were wonderfully thoughtful handwritten gifts of love to several persons in her life. And an "extra" that she made garnered over 2 MILLION dollars at auction which was given to charity. Now, her efforts can make a lot more money for one of her favorite charities: Children's High Level Group.
Another, and just as maddening, revelation from this book's publication is that it seems Rowling has absolutely no intention of "tying up all the loose ends" any time soon. The these fables are great and stand alone; but, she just couldn't resist informing us that: there is a "surviving wood cut" of Beedle the Bard which none of us have seen yet, a man named Brutus Malfoy may be related to Draco, another collection of children's stories (Beatrix Bloxam's Toadstool Tales) exists, we only know one of Adalbert Waffling's "Fundamental Laws of Magic," etc., etc..
- Literary Annotations These annotations are those of a literary nature which explain or add depth to the story in a literary sense.Parents Guide These annotations may be used by parents or other care-givers of children, to explain (or expand upon) moral aspects or 'life lessons' which can be learned.
Items displayed such as this are sample questions parents can ask while they read in order to assess the childs understanding.by JK Rowling These annotations are those written by JKR about aspects of the book she feels need clarifying for Muggles.
- (by J K Rowling, 2008)
These stories have been told (or read) to wizarding children since the early fifteenth century when they were either written (or compiled) by a still largely unknown wizard from Yorkshire, known only as "Beedle." There are significant differences between these stories and those told to wizard childrens' muggle peers. First, stories such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the like usually cast "magic" in an antagonistic role. After all, it was the evil witch who had cursed the apple. And second, Beedle's wizard heroine/hero is much more active in seeking their own fortune than their muggle counterparts, who simply seem to wait for the return of a shoe or an awakening kiss.
However, it is clear from Beedle's stories that magical parents seem to have the same desires for the emotional and moral upbringing of their offspring that Muggle parents have. One substantial difference, however, is the need for wizard parents to teach that: "magic causes as much trouble as it cures."
Through the stories, Beedle seems to have considered Muggles as "uninformed" rather than malevolent. He seemed to see and understand clearly the all-to-similar traits of "human-ess" such as: "cruelty, apathy and misapplication of talents" in both wizards and Muggle's. He used these traits as the basis for his antagonist's personalities throughout all of his "Tales". His protagonists, on the other hand, are those who continue to demonstrate the "most kindness, common sense, and ingenuity" in dealing with others and extricating themselves from life's difficulties.
What makes this additional publication of Beedle's works necessary today, however, is the discovery of a manuscript written by a "student" of Beedle APWB Dumbledore. The former, and inordinately famous, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, owned an original copy of Beedle's work and made extensive notes on each story, as if intended for publication at some future date. This recent publication is a new translation from the ancient runes by Hermione Granger, contains Dumbledore's annotations made about 18 months before his untimely death and is published by the permission of Hogwarts Headmistress Minerva McGonagall, custodian of the Dumbledore collection.
- Rhunes: Rhunic writing is ancient, 150 - 1000 AD, even for Beedle, the author of these tales. In the 1400's, when Beedle was born, English was already well established as a written language (even in Yorkshire, his birthplace). How these stories came to be written in Rhunic is an inconsistency that hasn't been explained by JKR yet. (Perhaps she will when she explains how Dumbledore got the "London Underground Scar" on his knee.)Dumbledore's Notes: According to JKR the annotations on Dumbledore's copy of Beedle the Bard were written sometime before 18 months prior to his death, c. 1995. (Arthur Weasley's near death experience about that time may have put an end to Dumbledore's writing project, but no official correlaton has been given.)
- The Wizard and the Hopping Pot
- (Beedle as translated by Hermione Granger, 2008)
A father and his son, wizards both, lived together in a small cottage near a muggle town; but, couldn't have been more diametrically opposed in personalities. Both realized they were "different" than "ordinary" men; but, while the father used his wizarding powers to help and assist his muggle neighbors, the son despised them and would have nothing to do with them. Neighbor after neighbor would come to the father with problems. The old man would then "pretend" to stir his "magic pot" and it would produce elixr's or other necessary "fixes" which would shortly sort out whatever problem had been presented.
One day the father died leaving the son the curious pot containing a single sock, and a note tucked inside. In the fathers loving handwriting the note simply read: "In the fond hope, my son, that you will never need it." Angry, he tossed the sock back inside and determined to use the pot hence-forth as a garbage pail. It wasn't long before a woman whose child had a bad case of warts over his body came to request help, but was rebuffed. Instantly, as the door slammed shut, the pot began clanging and making a terrible racket in the kitchen. The boy found that the pot had begun hopping on a little brass foot which he hadn't noticed before, and had sprouted warts all over it. Distressingly, it also began following him around wherever he went and couldn't be "magic'd" away. It wasn't long before the pot was: braying like a donkey after its owner who had lost it was turned away; crying like the baby who went hungry; and spilling salt water tears all over the floor like the mother of the ill baby who was dismissed without help.
The racket and the mess were unbearable and without respite until the boy finally gave in and took off on foot toward the town, the hopping pot clanging along close behind. Calling out to the towns-people, he quickly drew a crowd. Telling them that he would use his father's pot for them, he shortly had magic'd the villagers problems away like his father had done and was surprised to see that, as he did so, the pot's warts, tears and braying went away also. When the final trouble was solved he noticed the thick sock at the bottom of the pot, which he had completely forgotten about. He put it on the pot's brass foot and the clanging stopped as well; so, he resolved henceforth to deal with the muggle townspeople in the manner his father had done.
- Authorship Although no actual evidence continues to exist In Beedle's own hand which authenticates him as the author (and not mere compiler) of these tales, secondary evidence is most conclusive. The library of Hermioine Granger has a magnificent copy of the first published edition which asserts no prior authorship. Additionally, the sentiments and thematic material contained in the stories are known to match exactly those held by Beedle, according to the writings and oral tradition passed onto his family by Theophyllis Scarpin, a contemporary of Beedle (and progenitor of Robert R. Sarpin founder of ScarpNotes).Nearly-Headless Nick: a wizard of the Royal Court, had his wand taken away when he was imprisioned for accidentally giving Lady Grieve a tusk instead of fixing her tooth.
- Hopping Pot - Commentary
- (by Albus P.W.B. Dumbledore, c. 1994)
If you think this story is simply a morality tale about a kind father trying to teach his wayward son some compassion by giving a taste of his own medicine then you are an "innocent nincompoop. It is a wonder any copies of the story are left after all the wizard persecutions of the fifteenth century. Witches and Wizards were hunted down by Muggles and many put to death. Beedle's views for tolerance of the misguided seemed to be out-of-sync with the times, let alone suggesting that one use magic to help a muggle. The institution of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1689 was the capstone on wizarding acts to "make Muggles get along without us."
To children, however, the Beedle's little pot had caught their imagination and it seemed necessary to alter the story by dropping the pro-muggle sentiment. In the sixteenth century the pot protected the wizard from his wizard-hating muggle neighbors by eating them. Only after receiving a promise to let him alone did the pot regurgitate its victims, a bit worse for the experience. Even today some children are still only told the revised version.
By the seventeenth century wizards were leading double lives and invoking charms of concealment to protect their families. Any wizard who fraternized with Muggles was an outcast of their community, especially to wizards such as Brutus Malfoy, editor of Warlock at War, who took anti-muggle sentiment to its height. Epithets such as "Mudwallower," "Dunglicker," and "Scumsucker" were used to imply that a Muggle-lover was "about as magical as a squib." Malfoy wrote, in 1675, "… we may state with certainty: Any wizard who shows fondness for the society of Muggles is of low intelligence, with magic so feeble and pitiful that he can only feel himself superior if surrounded by Muggle pig-men. Nothing is a surer sign of weak magic than a weakness for non-magical company."
The prejudice eventually died out a bit when there was overwhelming evidence to the contrary. (see note) However, insipid busy-bodies such as Beatrix Bloxam (1794-1910) took umbrage over what she considered aspects inappropriate for "our little angels." The horrid topics of "death, disease, wicked magic, unwholesome characters and bodily effusions" have no place in keeping "their sweet slumber free of wicked dreams, and protecting the precious flower of their innocence." So, she re-wrote all of Beedle's stories (except Hairy Heart) and published them in "Toadstool Tales"; a book which unfortunately generates uncontrollable retching in most children who hear them.
- Brutus Malfoy: c. 1675, editor of Warlock At War, an anti-Muggle periodical.Beatrix Bloxam: 1794-1810, author of "Toadstool Tales", a complete revision of Beedle's works by an infamous prude of the highest order. Unfortunately, the mere hearing of her version was enough to induce gagging and reverse peristalsis in even the most stout children.Statute of Secrecy: Established in 1689, it is known as "The International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy" and is one of the statues from which charges were laid against Harry Potter, on more than one occasion.Moral: "...the moral, really, is to teach young wizards and witches that they should be using their magic altruistically" JKREscape from Muggles Even though most did, not all wizards were able to escape death at the hands of Muggles (see comments about Lisette de Lapin in Babbity Rabbity and her cackling stump). Unfortunates such as Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington (Royal court wizard) were deprived of their wand before they could make their escape. Loosing younger members of the family to witch-hunters was common as they couldn't control their magic.Muggle-Lovers: Some of the worlds most brilliant wizards (such as Dumbledore) were 'Muggle-Lovers.'Squibs: Someone born to magical parents but without magical abilities. The opposite of 'Muggle-born' and much more rare.