In Giovan Straparola’s tale, “The Pig King”, Straparola offers a cultural view on the theme of love and marriage by exploring the larger cultural and social context of the tale’s production to convey the insecurities and uncertainties of women. Straparola’s early version of one of the most iconic fairy tales in “Beauty and the Beast”, offers a comforting message about the existing anxieties and concerns of a woman when subjected to the idea of marriage.
Giovan Straparola’s making of the folktale, “The Pig King”, records the historical and cultural context of the tale’s production for his argument to be consistent with the current views and beliefs of the Italian Renaissance.
The author’s ability to integrate the tale’s cultural context to his work enables him to distinguish the perspective of the characters, reflecting their responses and reactions in order for the reader to interpret the intentions and motivations of the characters.
The author’s cultural argument about the insecurities of marriage offers an opportunity for young women to pause and reflect on how his story has helped exhibit a clear expression of the struggles and misconceptions of marriage as our views on marriage have changed within time.
His overall purpose is for his story to have an effect on the character and behavior of the audience by communicating a message that projects his standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is prudent to direct people’s hopes for a better life.
As a reader, our current social and cultural context greatly influences our manner of perceiving the text, likewise, the author helps to display the circumstances that form the setting, tone, and ideas surrounding the story in terms of which it can clarify its meaning.
During the time of the tales production, the Italian Renaissance was a period of growing discomfort for women. At a young age, many women were driven by their parents to partake in arranged marriages in order to improve the social class ranking of the family. Many women viewed arranged marriages the outcome of living under the uncompromising regime of their husbands and fulfilling their roles and responsibilities as property of their new husbands in order to appease them. Many perceived viewed marriage as the start of a undesirable and inadequate life and the abolishment to expressfully think and act for themselves. Many women have found it difficult to make considered decisions and come to sensible conclusions that their misconceptions of marriage are based on their self deception.
In Straparola’s tale, “The Pig King”, a conceived a child was cursed to resemble the characteristics of a pig and be constrained to remain until he has married three times. Growing up, the pig would begin to develop the same attributes and aspects to those of a wild pig. To his perspective it appeared normal for him to develop these sort of odd characteristics because these normal habits are due to his ignorance of the reality of the life of a normal human being.
Driven by his desire to marry a beautiful wife, the pig believed his appearance would be overshadowed by his true identity underneath his awful, filthy skin. However, the pig’s unpleasant acts of affection would not please his bride. Overcome by rage and irritation, her plan to kill the pig was thwarted by the pig and was later killed. Miraculously, the pig prince would soon find true love, someone who admires him for who he truly is. Delightful to have found true love, the pig discloses a secret of his to his wife, and underneath his skin garment he reveals a handsome young prince.
Straparola reflects the cultural views of marriage during the Italian Renaissance to bring comfort and consolidation to young women around their anxieties of marriage through storytelling. He transmits the cultural elements and customs of his period into his work to provide an insight into the growing awareness of marriage within his era. The author’s conception of marriage is perceived by his understanding of the moods, attitudes and circumstances that existed during his time in which many women envisioned leaving the safety of their home and entering the domains of their oppressing husbands. In “Peasants Tell Tales”, Robert Darnton emphasizes that the history of fairy tales are embedded within the oral tradition of storytelling. Darnton argues that “folktales are historical documents….and have taken different turns in different cultural traditions.” He proclaims that fairy tales have preserved their history but have taken different passages into civilization, publicly expressing the culture lifestyle of other communities and embracing their traditions to become consistent with their own current beliefs and attitudes. Darton assures that works of history such as “The Pig King” describes and analyzes the awareness of the people during the tale’s production focusing on the wider mindset on how they judged, classified and viewed the world in which they lived in. Even though you might demonstrate an understanding for the tale, you will be unable to determine the historical circumstances that influenced the tale, leaving you attempting to asses the origin of the tale. Straparola’s intention in revealing the historical and cultural context of his era is to project his views and values of his own background in order to influence the audience’s curiosity in understanding the impact other cultures could have on our mentality when perceiving the world.
The historical and cultural context of Straparola’s tale is illustrated by his use of rhetorical strategies to draw the attention of the audience on his perspective concerning a notable issue.
In contrast to the accuracy of the recorded versions of a tale, Darton clarifies that “all those devices shaped the meaning of the tales, and all of them elude the historian”, when referring that no matter the accuracy of the tales, storytelling appeals to audiences emotions and feelings when portraying a visual story and transporting the audience into the scene. The connotative words behind the visual images illustrated by Straparola approaches the collective anxiesties and doubts of the what women might experience. When the pigs lover heard about the queens proposition to marry the pig, she was”deeply upset and blushed for shame” for she had no intention to marry the pig, calling the him a “foul beast”. Women perceived the concept of an arranged marriage to the idea of marrying a man whose characteristics and personality resembled those of a wild, fierce and savage animal in an attempt to satisfy their sexual desires. However, if women are willing to be courageous and approach these misunderstood human beings with love and affection such as Meldina who “holds on to and cherish any rare and precious treasures” that come into her possession, in this case the pig prince who happens to be “the comeliest, the worthiest, and the most gallant young man”, women would familiarize themselves with the condition these certain type of men establish themselves as a person and learn to tame the “beast” and reveal their true character, developing the qualities that are considered to be natural to a women. Straparola persuades his audience that the passage towards womanhood is by not allowing themselves to believe their own false judgements and convincing themselves the truth.
He achieves his purpose by referring to the misconceptions that many women have developed during his era due to their uncertainties and concerns about marriage and presents a reasonable argument for women to reconcile themselves to the thought of looking past an individual’s value or worth base on their appearance.
In Jack Zipes “An Overview of the History of Fairy Tales”, Zipes states that “tales are human marks invested with desire…to enunciate the speaker’s/writer’s position in the world….Each word marks a way toward a future different from what may have been decreed.” Zipes reflects Straparola’s desire to communicate his message through the practice of storytelling as a means to apply rhetorical techniques to persuade or draw attention to his audience on his particular view of a notable issue and covey a meaningful lesson. Straparola’s tale explores the theme of marriage in a distinct way in favor to the historical and cultural context of the tales production. For Straparola to surround the issue of marriage from his point of view allows the reader to appreciate his story more genuinely by placing themselves in his place through the fair understanding of the way he perceives the world, to not only understand what is being discussed but to engage in the passage.
Zipes asserts that “…both the oral and literary forms of the fairy tale have resisted the imposition of theory and manifested their enduring power by articulating relevant cultural information necessary for the formation of civilization and adaptation to the environment.” Straparola’s message to provide hope and awareness by communicating these issues in his tale, addresses the cultural views, concerns or beliefs he was inspired to share within his story in order for the audience to understand what influenced him to write his piece, hoping many others would exercise the morals of the tale into their own lives.
Straparola offers his cultural view on the subject of marriage to explore the fears and anxieties of women by establishing the historical and cultural context of the Italian Renaissance. The meaning of Straparola’s tale lies within his understanding on the matter of marriage rather than the text itself. His purpose in publishing his tale indicates a comforting message to be learned from concerning a critical matter many feel frighten to discuss about. By illustrating the worries many women would experience during an era of marriage confinement, Straparola is able to convey the views and beliefs many women could connect to when engaging in his tale. What an individual experiences in life greatly affects their personality and outlook. He asserts his message by attributing the impact society has greatly influenced him in order to convey a modern view of the struggles of marriage, being an inspiration for young women to keep his story alive by renewing the terms of the tale and installing the values they hold today. As this tale and many others behind it have been shared through different cultures during the course of storytelling, these stories still hold the similar meaningful values and fairy tale conventions throughout the different settings and scenarios they have been told. The history of storytelling gives an insight into the origins of our cultures around the world and the impact it has had in forming the larger truths of society. These historical documents are essential for us to interpret the human experience.