Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Hero Monomyth - Puss in Boots By Charles Perault

Puss in Boots Silhouette Postcard

Any parent will tell you that stories which seemed innocuous as a child can take on a very different bent once you start relaying them to your own children. One such example is the story of ‘Puss in Boots’ by Charles Perault. As a child I thought of this work of fiction as a ripping yarn with all the requisite factors in place: a handsome prince (or in this case, a marquis), a princess, a loyal companion (the real hero), and a monster (or ogre). Good triumphed over evil and the loving couple lived happily ever after.

It even followed the convention of the Hero Monomyth as illustrated above. An unwilling protagonist who must follow an uncertain path, complete challenges and return home triumphant with the spoils of those challenges. To cap it all, it had a moral: There is great advantage in receiving a large inheritance, but diligence and ingenuity are worth more than wealth acquired from others. Who could argue with that? And yet, no matter how many times I read the story and try to rationalize its intentions, it always leaves me feeling uneasy. Do I really want my children growing up thinking it is all right to prosper from the hard work and ingenuity of others rather than make the effort themselves?

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