Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/89

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
73
The Poison Maiden.

these conform in essentials to the type under consideration. There is the burial, the agreement, the death of the wizard, and the division. To be sure, as in other instances, the dispossession of the woman has been obscured by other elements; yet the type is unmistakable, it seems to me. One trait in particular connects Old Wives' Tale with Irish I. and II. In all three the hero seeks a maiden who is white as snow and red as blood. On the other hand, the ghost is called Jack as in Irish III. and the English tale which bears Jack's name. Because of these similarities and discrepancies one is forced to conclude that for this part of his play Peele drew upon some version of Jack the Giant-Killer, which was far better preserved than the forms known to-day. His original must have had many points in common with the tale as extant in Ireland, though we need not believe that he knew it in other than English dress.

It yet remains to consider the relations of the two sets of variants discussed in this chapter to The Poison Maiden and to one another. The group is peculiar in that all the members of it are folk-tales, save three: Tobit, Danish III. and Old Wives' Tale. The two latter are, however, immediately derived from popular narratives of an easily discernible type. Thus Tobit is an anomaly from almost any point of view, obscure in its origin and possessed of only trivial influence upon the other tales belonging to the same group. Of the twenty-six variants, fifteen have The Grateful Dead + The Poison Maiden simply, while the other eleven add thereto more or less distinct elements of The Water of Life.

In the following versions the hero is saved on the wedding night, or the bride is purified by some means: Tobit, Armenian, Gypsy, Siberian, Russian I., Russian II., Russian III, Russian IV., Russian V., Russian VI., Servian II., Servian III., Servian IV., Bulgarian,