February 22, 2013 by Alice in Readerland
For Project: Fairy Tale, bloggers are reading the original version of a fairy tale, and then looking into three retellings of that tale. The fairy tale I chose for this project is Puss in Boots, or “Le Maître Chat, ou Le Chat Botté” (French for Master Cat, or The Booted Cat). I love cats. I love boots. So a cat wearing boots just seemed like the perfect fairy tale for me. Puss is the ultimate con
man cat and grifter. And who could possibly resist this face:
Say it with me now: Awwww!
ORIGINAL FAIRY TALE
In the original fairy tale, the youngest son of a miller inherits a cat (Puss) when his father dies. This does not go over well with the boy, as he believes that his older brothers got a better inheritance. The boy (who appears rather daft and whiny, in my opinion) thinks that since he doesn’t have anything else, that he should eat Puss. Puss, however, has better ideas. Asking for a pair of boots and a bag, Puss concocts his master plan. Puss begins catching food and presenting them as gifts to the king. Each time Puss brings the king a gift, Puss slyly tells him that the gifts are from his master, the great “Marquis of Carabas.” The next step in Puss’ plan is to talk his master into take off his clothes and jumping in the river. After that, Puss stages a great show of crying for help, catching the attention of the king, who was passing by in the royal coach with the princess. Puss tells the King that robbers stole from his master and gets the King to give the boy fancy clothes and let him in the coach (where the princess falls in love with this “Marquis of Carabas”).
Instead of riding in the coach with the others, Puss races ahead of the coach and threatens all along the road to say that the land belongs to the fictional “Marquis of Carabas” or else Puss will cut them into “mincemeat.” Being frightened of the determined little violent kitty, they comply. Next, Puss goes to a nearby castle (inhabited by an ogre) and tricks the ogre into changing itself into a mouse. Once the ogre is a mouse, Puss has it as a tasty meal. Next, Puss tells the king that the castle belongs to his owner, “Marquis of Carabas,” and the king is so impressed, that he lets the boy marry the princess. The hardworking puss then gets to kick up his feet in the lap of luxury and only chase and catch for fun.
Puss in Boots appears in a dance with The White Cat in the Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty ballet during the royal wedding in Act III. I thought the dance was cute and fun, playing on different aspects of cats, such as cleaning their ears with their paws. The costumes were also creative and reminiscent of cats (and boots!).
In The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter, Puss is named Figaro and lives a happy bachelor life by helping his owner make money by cheating at cards. However, Figaro’s free and easy life is put into jeopardy when his owner falls in love with a woman trapped in a tower. Puss thinks love is ridiculous…or he does until he falls in love with the woman’s cat. Together, the cats scheme up how to get themselves a happily ever after. I thought this was an interesting twist on the Puss in Boots story, as Carter does call Puss of the Puss in Boots story “a masterpiece of cynicism” and “the Cat as Con Man.”
Another fun version of Puss in Boots is Puss in Cowboy Boots by Jan Huling. Known as the “wheelin’-and-dealin’-est kitty cat in the whole, entire U. S. of A.!” this was a really fun western take on Puss in Boots. I enjoyed all the “twang” of the writing and thought that it was a fun seeing Puss in the wild, wild west.
What do you think of Puss in Boots?