I was hanging out with some friends, one of whom has a three-year-old child, and I was asked / ordered to tell her a fairy tale. First I was asked to tell the story of the gingerbread man, which I didn’t know at all. So then they asked me to tell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Anyway, I told it, with help from people who actually knew the story, but in the end I had the three bears eat Goldilocks. My friends claimed that this doesn’t actually happen in the real story; Goldilocks just ran away. Fortunately the child by that point was 100% over the story and had gone to play with her toys, so she wasn’t actually traumatized or anything (why I kept telling the story to a bunch of ostensible adults I don’t know).
Later, I mentioned this to a co-worker, and an informal poll suggests that many of us were originally told the story with Goldilocks getting eaten at the end! One particularly motivated co-worker determined that the original story did end with Goldilocks’ death (the original story also starred an old woman, and in one version she apparently wound up impaled on the spire on top of the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, but that is neither here nor there).
You never really know how familiar you are with a story until you have to tell it with no advance notice in front of an audience.
2 thoughts on “The Three Bears”
My unscientific poll of two has both of us remembering an earliest-heard version in which the bears ate Goldilocks.
I suspect it was altered at some point to avoid making children upset. Which is fair. Although it seems that many of the old fairy tales are expressly designed to make children upset for some reason.