When I was still teaching one of the courses assigned to me was World Literature. It was a tenth grade course and contained many of the world classics we treasure today. [Eleventh grade was American literature and twelfth grade was British literature, both of which I also taught, as well as journalism and an Advanced Placement Language course.] I really did not mind switching subjects for it forced me to be versatile. However, I will admit, when it came to teaching World Lit to the lower level classes (many with learning challenges – I have two advanced degrees as a Reading Specialist and another in the field of special education), we all struggled through some of the material, so I came up with this idea to develop a couple of units geared to the students learning needs, rather than to “dumb down” the curriculum. Instead, I brought in books on different cultures so my students could understand what influenced the writers of those countries. Books designed for the middle grade learner or above. Next, I created a simple in appearance (but complicated) unit on stories in common from around the world. One section of that program dealt with fairy tales. I purchased some twenty different versions of the “Cinderella” story. Children’s books, really.
Together the students and I created a chart of what was common knowledge in all the Cinderella versions of the tale they had read or viewed in movies: glass slipper, wicked stepmother, stroke of midnight, etc. For example, Korea.net tells us, “The story of Kongjwi and Patjwi is a beloved and popular Korean folktale made around the late Joseon period. The folktale is known to exist in 17 variant forms, and the novel version was first published in 1928. Often compared to the Western fairy tell of Cinderella for sharing common motifs, Kongjwi and Patjwi also features a wicked stepmother, a misplaced shoe, and helper-characters with magical powers. The universal theme of “good prevailing over evil” is also found in both. These commonalities appear in almost all variations of the more than 1,000 Cinderella-type stories known to exist worldwide.” My students learned about cultures and literature at the same time. No challenges they could not overcome because I broke it down into easy to achieve goals. Just simple love of learning.
In my new Jane Austen Fan Fiction book, I do not use a Cinderella story, though many of us would compare Elizabeth Bennet to Cinderella and Mr. Darcy to the prince. Rather, I thought about both Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s love of reading and how they could often read each other’s minds, creating a connection which could not be broken. Last Friday, I spoke of Love’s Labour’s Lost from Shakespeare. In the book, they also share an oral reading of Taming of the Shrew. Yet, it is a brief mention of the tale of Hansel and Gretel, which might likely catch some off guard. Do not worry. I did my homework. I cannot have some reviewer telling me I made a mistake on when the book was published.
The first volume of the collected fairy tales from Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm was published in 1812 under the title Kinder- un Hausmärchen. By 1822, the Grimm brothers had three such volumes under their belts and containing some 170 tales. Their work had a great influence on other European countries. Even so, the Grimm “fairy” tales were not cleaned up, so to speak, until much later.
from Maude Frome @frome_maude ~ Hansel & Gretel originated in the Baltic Regions during the Great Famine of 1314 to 1322, a time of such hunger that children were often abandoned (like H & G) & even eaten – a fate Hansel narrowly avoids when Gretel pushes the witch into her own oven.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of their collected fairy tales in 1812 under the title Kinder- und Hausmärchen. By 1822, the brothers had published three volumes containing 170 tales total with subsequent editions bringing that number to over 200. Their work both in collecting and composing these tales had a great influence on other collectors in Europe who subsequently compiled and published stories from their own countries throughout the 19th century.
The Illinois University Library tells us, “The early volumes of Grimm tales were criticized because they were not suitable for children and later editions were sanitized to make the stories more palatable. Wicked mothers became wicked stepmothers, likely due to the perceived sanctity of motherhood, and sexual references such as pregnancy were removed, as in “Rapunzel.” Despite these changes, Grimm fairy tales are much more violent than in modern adaptations, particularly when it comes to punishing villains.”
Upon first arriving at Pemberley, Elizabeth and Mary comment on leaving a trail of bread crumbs to find their way back to their quarters.
Entering the suite indicated, Elizabeth paused in awe. The broad corridor leading to this particular wing of the house had been lined with artwork from Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough and George Romney and others she did not recognize, but would study when the opportunity proved itself.
Mrs. Reynolds opened the door to a large sitting room. “This is your suite, Mrs. Darcy, with the sitting room to be shared with the master. I will have your trunk brought up. Mr. Darcy indicated you would require a lady’s maid; therefore, I have taken the liberty to hire a girl from the village on a trial basis. You are under no obligation to retain her services if she does not please you.”
While the woman bustled about the room, Elizabeth naturally gravitated to the large window, sporting a window seat and several pillows, which she knew would become one of her favorite places to look out upon the well-groomed lawns of the estate. “I am certain the girl will serve me well. I am not one to sit before a mirror for very long.” She turned from the window to run her fingers across the backs of two straight-back upholstered chairs seated before a fireplace, which had been set for her pleasure. The material used on the chairs complemented the green, such as that found in a forest, of the drapes. A compact desk occupied one corner alongside two floor-to-ceiling book shelves. A low table and a settee were available for sharing tea, and upon the floor stood a cream and green rug, likely from China. “Mama would be speechless,” she murmured.
“Pardon?” Mrs. Reynolds asked.
“Just ruminating on my mother’s delight in such a room.” Realizing Mary and the child still waited for the housekeeper, Elizabeth said, “I should add a few more pins to my hair while you show my sister and Miss Alice to their quarters.”
“Certainly, Mrs. Darcy,” Mrs. Reynolds said as she pulled herself up royally to finish the task. “Mr. Darcy’s quarters are through the dressing room, ma’am.” She nodded to Mary and the child to follow her.
Elizabeth stood looking at the door the housekeeper had indicated. Would this be the night Mr. Darcy finally claimed his husbandly duties? The idea both frightened and enticed her. “Pull yourself together, Elizabeth,” she chastised. “What is to be will be. You made a bargain to save yourself and Mary. You weighed your options, and this one proved the best. The house is magnificent and your husband is wealthy. For what more could you wish? What if Mr. Darcy does not hold you in affection? You would be no different from half the female population of England in that manner. You only asked for a place where you and Mary would be safe. God granted your wish: Do not ask for more.”
She was nearly finished with her hair when Alice, carrying her doll tucked under one arm, bounded through the still open door. “Bis Lizbeth, I’ve a bowteaful room too. You’ll come to see it?”
“It is nearly time for your father to fetch us for our meal, but I promise to view both your and Mary’s rooms when we see the rest of the house.”
“Did I hear my name?” Mary asked as she came through the door.
“Alice wishes us to view her new quarters,” Elizabeth explained. “I suggested we wait until after our meal and Mr. Darcy’s tour of the house.”
“I am rather hungry, are you not also, Alice?” Mary said perceptively before the child could lodge a protest.
“Will there be cakes?” Alice asked. “Biss Cassandra likes cakes.”
Mr. Darcy appeared in the open doorway. “If my daughter wishes cakes, she will have them,” he announced as he lifted the child to his arms.
“Yet, not before Miss Alice eats a proper meal,” Elizabeth corrected. “Cake will not have you growing up, but rather out.” She gestured with her hands, and the child giggled. “Lead on, Mr. Darcy,” she instructed. Wrapping her arm through Mary’s, Elizabeth added, “All your ladies are at your disposal.” To Mary, she teasingly said, “We should steal a few of the bread rolls and leave a trail of bread crumbs to find our way back to our rooms.”
Her husband said over his shoulder, “Despite the tale in Kinder- und Hausmärchen, your doing so will only earn one of the maids a good tongue-lashing from Mrs. Reynolds.” He grinned at Elizabeth.
Elizabeth remarked, “You really should smile more often, sir. It pleases me to see you thusly.”
“Other than Alice, I have not had a reason to smile in many years.” His brows lifted in an apparent challenge.
Elizabeth gently tugged Mary closer. “Then, we three ladies must provide you more reasons to know happiness.”
The gentleman did not respond, but he looked upon her in a serious manner until Alice tapped his cheek to reclaim his attention, but Elizabeth thought, if only for a brief moment, he approved of her response.
Amending the Shades of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
“You have willfully misunderstood me, Miss Bennet. You have no worry of my releasing you, for I do not wish you to perform as a governess to my daughter, but rather as my wife and the mistress of my hereditary estate.”
Elizabeth Bennet had thought the stranger quite handsome; yet, she had ignored those first tendrils of interest, for she was in no position for the gentleman to pursue her. She and her sister Mary were all who remained of their family. Moreover, Longbourn and its furnishings were to be sold. They were destitute, and, if fortunate, headed for service in some stranger’s household.
Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal of marriage would save both Mary and her, for her sister had agreed to assist with the gentleman’s young daughter. But what of the man’s tale of having corresponded with her father and of Mr. Bennet having purported a marriage between this stranger and her? Elizabeth knew nothing of the arrangement nor of the man’s existence. Though their marriage would solve all her troubles, what if the man’s tale was not completely truthful? Would Mr. Darcy become her enemy or a man she could learn to love?
GIVEAWAY: Amending the Shades of Pemberley releases next Wednesday, April 26. To be a part of the giveaway of 2 eBook copies of this tale, add a comment below. Winners will be notified by email.
You will also be able to Read the book on Kindle Unlimited beginning April 26.
Amazon Print Copy https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C1J2GT3F/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Releases April 26, 2023
I really enjoyed this article, giving us more insight into your teaching experience. I could definitely see the fairy tale references in your newest book. I am almost finished with it, and I love it so much! Your writing is always wonderful, and your teaching background always provides us a few historical lessons. You amaze me with your skill! Well, I have a book to finish, and a beautiful rainy day to do it, so I will just say, “Thank you for all of the beautiful work you bring us!”
And I have a rainy day to work on another chapter of my new book. It never ends. Thanks for being a loyal friend.
This sounds awesome, Regina, but that is no surprise. I always love your books. Best wishes on this one. I hope you are doing well, and those grandchildren too!
Grandkids are awesome, but we grandmothers tend to be a bit prejudice, do we not. Glad to hear from you.