Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/90

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74
The Grateful Dead.

Esthonian II., Irish I., Irish II., Danish III., Norwegian II., and Harz I. Not all the stories which I have placed in the group, it will be observed, have this feature; but, out of all the variants of The Grateful Dead enumerated in the bibllographical list, not one has it except members of the group. Now this purification of the bride, by means of which the hero is saved, is precisely the element of The Poison Maiden which is most essential. There can be no doubt, therefore, that this theme actually united with a more primitive form of The Grateful Dead to form the compound discussed in this chapter. The combination must have been made very early and in Asia, as Tobit and Armenian bear witness. It will be noted that all the variants, save Finnish, which have the simple compound, retain the rescue of the bridegroom, while only half of those where a subsidiary motive has been introduced have the like. Apparently the intrusion of new matter of a very romantic sort tended to obscure the original climax of the combined type.

Another feature of much importance in this connection is the division of the woman, or whatever is substituted for it. In a large majority of the variants studied, which have the trait at all, the purpose of the division proposed or accomplished is to test the fidelity of the hero. Hippe believed[1] that this was a modification of the original trait, an opinion which would be justified if the compound type The Grateful Dead + The Poison Maiden only were considered. The versions which have the purification are the following: Armenian, Gypsy, Siberian, Russian II., Russian IV., Russian V., Russian VI., Servian II., Servian III., Servian IV., Bulgarian, Esthonian II., Finnish, Irish I., Irish II., and Old Wives' Tale. In these the purpose of the division, or beating, whether actually performed or not, is the disposal of

  1. Pp. 176-178.