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Encyclopedia > Youngest son

The youngest son is a stock character in fairy tales, where he features as the hero. He is usually the third son, but sometimes there are more brothers, and sometimes he has only one; usually, they have no sisters. A stock character is a fictional character that relies heavily on cultural types or stereotypes for its personality, manner of speech, and other characteristics. ... A fairy tale is a story, either told to children or as if told to children, concerning the adventures of mythical characters such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants, and others. ... Heroine, the feminine of hero, should not be confused with heroin, the drug. ...



Prior to their adventures, he is often despised as weak and foolish by his brothers — sometimes with reason, some youngest sons actually being foolish, and others being lazy and prone to sitting about the ashes doing nothing.

He generally succeeds in tasks after his older brothers have failed, as in The Red Ettin, or all three are set tasks and he is only the one to succeed, as in Puddocky. He may happen on the magical helper that gives him his success, as Puddocky has pity on him, but usually he is tested in some manner that distinguishes him from his brothers: in The Red Ettin he is offered the choice of half a loaf with his mother's blessing and the whole with her curse, and takes the blessing where his brothers took the curse, and in The Golden Bird, he takes a talking fox's advice to avoid an inn where his brothers decided to abandon their quest. This success may make his brothers an additional obstacle, as in The Golden Bird, where they overpower him and steal what he has won on his quest. The Red Ettin or The Red Etin is a fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs. ... Puddocky is a German fairy tale. ... In fairy tales, a fairy godmother is a fairy or person with magical powers who acts as a mentor or parent to someone. ... The Golden Bird is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about the troubled pursuit of a golden bird by a kings three sons. ...

This rivalry is not a necessary component of the character. He may also be the only one of the brothers to set about the work, as in Dapplegrim. In some tales, such as the Norwegian version of The Master Thief, the brothers are mentioned and vanish from the tale entirely when they set out to seek their fortune. Dapplegrim is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe. ... The Master Thief is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Chr. ...

Youngest daughters

Heroines in fairy tales are more often marked out as stepdaughters, but sometimes they appear as the youngest daughter. The White Bear in East of the Sun and West of the Moon marries the youngest daughter; in the Black Bull of Norroway, the heroine's older sisters set out to seek their fortunes before her. She may be the only one willing to fulfill a promise that their father made, as in Beauty and the Beast. East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a Norwegian fairy tale, collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. ... The Black Bull of Norroway is a fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs. ... Beauty and the Beast is a traditional folktale (type 425C -- search for a lost husband -- in the Aarne-Thompson classification). ...

Sibling rivalry may also spring up in these stories, but usually over the youngest daughter's marriage. They may incite their sister to break the taboo her husband has laid on her, as in Cupid and Psyche, or make it appear that she has killed her own children to make her husband hate her, as in The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird. The Abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau The tale of Cupid and Psyche first appeared as a digressionary story told by an old woman in Lucius Apuleius novel, The Golden Ass, written in the second century AD. Apuleius probably used an earlier folk-tale as the basis for his...

Sibling pairs

A pair of siblings, whether a girl and a boy as in Hansel and Gretel or two girls as in Snow-White and Rose-Red or Katie Crackernuts, more frequently features them as co-protagonist than as rivals. When they are rivals, they are more often stepsiblings than siblings, but as siblings, the younger is generally the favored, as in Diamonds and Toads. Gretel tricks the witch Hansel and Gretel (German: Hänsel und Gretel) is a fairy tale of Germanic origin, collected by the Brothers Grimm. ... Snow-White and Rose-Red (German: Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot) is a fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm. ... Diamonds and Toads or Toads and Diamonds is a fairy tale by Charles Perrault, and titled by him Les Fees or The Fairies. ...

Brothers with a sister

In tales where the brothers had a sister, she is usually the heroine of the tale, as in The Seven Ravens, The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird (in the second generation), or The Twelve Wild Ducks. Even in these tales, the youngest son may be set out: in The Seven Ravens, he is the first to guess that their sister has found them; in The Twelve Wild Ducks, he argues against his oldest brother, who wants to kill their sister as the cause of their misery.

Fairy tales

Tales that feature youngest sons:

Tales that feature youngest daughters: The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear or The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. ... The Princess on the Glass Hill is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Chr. ...



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