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'Jack & the Beanstalk' - The Origins and Story

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Jack & the Beanstalk

The Origins

Jack & the BeanstalkJack and the Beanstalk was originally an English fairy tale which appeared as The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean in 1734 and then as Benjamin Tabart's The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk in 1807.   It was later popularised in The Home Treasury (1845) and rewritten in English Fairy Tales (1890), the most commonly reprinted version today.  It is the best known of the Jack tales, a series of stories which featured the archetypal Cornish and English hero, Jack.  Despite that recent history, the story originated more than 5,000 years ago, based on a widespread archaic story form which is now classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre's Treasure.

 

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The Story (Spoiler Alert!!)


Jack up the BeanstalkJack is a young, poor boy living with his widowed mother and a dairy cow, on a farm cottage.  The cow's milk was their only source of income.  When the cow stops giving milk, Jack's mother tells him to take her to the market to be sold.  

On the way, Jack meets a dealer who offers magic beans in exchange for the cow, and Jack makes the trade.  When he arrives home without any money, his mother is angry and disenchanted, throws the beans on the ground, and sends Jack to bed without dinner.

During the night, the magic beans cause a gigantic beanstalk to grow outside Jack's window.  The next morning, Jack climbs the beanstalk to a land high in the sky. He finds an enormous castle and sneaks in.  Soon after, the castle's owner, a giant, returns home. He smells that Jack is nearby, and speaks a rhyme:


Fee-fi-fo-fum!
I smell the blood of an English man:
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread
.

In the versions in which the giant's wife (the giantess) features, she persuades him that he is mistaken and helps Jack hide.  When the giant falls asleep, Jack steals a bag of gold coins and makes his escape down the beanstalk.

Cutting the BeanstalkJack climbs the beanstalk again. He learns of other treasures and steals them when the giant sleeps - a goose that lays golden eggs and a magic harp that plays by itself.  The giant wakes when Jack and chases Jack down the beanstalk. Jack calls to his mother for an axe and before the giant reaches the ground, cuts down the beanstalk, causing the giant to fall to his death.

Jack and his mother live happily ever after with the riches that Jack acquired.

The giant's catchphrase "Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman" appears in William Shakespeare's early 17th-century King Lear in the form "Fie, foh, and fum, I smell the blood of a British man." (Act 3, Scene 4).

 Thanks to www.revolvy.com for a lot of this explanation.

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Jack & the BeanstalkPilton Pantomime goes from strength to strength and is over 20 years old in its current form in the Chichester Arms (now the Green Man Bar & Bistro) or in the Church Hall.

Recordings of several earlier pantomimes, including the 1995 version of 'Jack & the Beanstalk' presented in the skittle alley of Chichester Arms, can be seen on The Pilton Story archive. Click on the image above to go there and watch a piece of Pilton history!

Recorded pantomime and musical theatre in Pilton now date back almost 100 Years, to when the story of Robin Hood was told in 1923. And the children of Pilton School did Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Pilton Hall in 1949. Click on those titles to find out more.

 

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