onsdag 26 januari 2011

P is for 'Puss 'n Boots' - Mrs. Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday, Round 2 - P

P is for 'Puss in Boots'. Hi, I'm Sara Cat!

I'm linking up with Mrs. Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday-Round 2 - P. As a blogger, who is also a cat, I feel it is my duty to write about issues of interests to all cats. So for the letter 'P', I would like to mention that there is a fairy tale that has done much to raise the status of the cat, and that is 'Puss in Boot' or 'Master Cat' (Le Maistre Chat, ou Le Chat Botté, literally "The Booted Cat" by Charles Perrault (1628–1703).

'Puss in Boots' is the story about the youngest of three sons of a miller who only inherits a cat when their father dies. He is unhappy with his inheritence until the cat starts to talk asks for a pair of boots, which he says he will need if he is going to help his master. Puss is a trickster and not only earns money for the impouverished miller's son, he even helps him play the part of the fictional Marquis of Carabas and thereby making a good impression upon the king and winning the hand of his daughter, the princess. Here is Wikipedia's plot summary:

The tale opens with the third and youngest son of a miller receiving his inheritance — a cat. At first, the youngest son laments, as the eldest brother gains the mill, and the middle brother attains the mules. The feline is no ordinary cat, however, but one who requests and receives a pair of boots. Determined to make his master's fortune, the cat bags a rabbit in the forest and presents it to the king as a gift from his master, the fictional Marquis of Carabas. The cat continues making gifts of game to the king for several months.

Puss meets the ogre in a nineteenth-century illustration by Gustave Doré

One day, knowing the king and his daughter are traveling by coach along the riverside, the cat persuades his master to remove his clothes and enter the river. The cat disposes of his master's clothing beneath a rock. As the royal coach nears, the cat begins calling for help in great distress, and, when the king stops to investigate, the cat tells him that his master, the Marquis, has been bathing in the river and robbed of his clothing. The king has the young man brought from the river, dressed in a splendid suit of clothes, and seated in the coach with his daughter, who falls in love with him at once.

The cat hurries ahead of the coach, ordering the country folk along the road to tell the king that the land belongs to the "Marquis of Carabas", saying that if they do not he will cut them into mincemeat. The cat then happens upon a castle inhabited by an ogre who is capable of transforming himself into a number of creatures. The ogre displays his ability by changing into a lion, frightening the cat, who then tricks the ogre into changing into a mouse. Once that change is complete, the cat pounces upon the mouse and devours it. The king arrives at the castle which formerly belonged to the ogre, and, impressed with the bogus Marquis and his estate, gives the lad the princess in marriage. Thereafter, the cat enjoys life as a great lord who runs after mice only for his own amusement.[6]

The tale is followed immediately by two morals: "one stresses the importance of possessing industrie and savoir faire while the other extols the virtues of dress, countenance, and youth to win the heart of a princess."[7]

Peraults original French Le Maistre Chat, ou Le Chat Botté, was first published in 1697 and became immediately popular in France. An English translation of 'Puss in Boots' was first published in 1729.

But 'Puss in Boots' is not as popular in England as the British folktale, 'Dick Whittington's Cat' whose cat is not a trickster, but simply helps his master by being a good mouser. This is Wikipedia's summary of Dick Whittington and His Cat:

Dick Whittington and His Cat is a British folk tale that has often been used as the basis for stage pantomimes and other adaptations. It tells of a poor boy in the 14th century who becomes a wealthy merchant and eventually the Lord Mayor of London because of the ratting abilities of his cat. The character of the boy is named after a real-life person, Richard Whittington, but the real Whittington did not come from a poor family and there is no evidence that he had a cat.


Dick Whittington was a poor orphan. Hearing of the great city of London, where the streets were said to be paved with gold, he set off to seek his fortune in the city. Once there, of course, Dick could not find any streets that were paved with gold. Hungry, cold and tired, he fell asleep in front of the great house of Mr. Fitzwarren, a rich merchant. The generous man took Dick into his house and employed him as a scullery boy. Unfortunately, Dick's little room was infested with rats. Dick earned a penny shining a gentleman's shoes, and with it he bought a cat, who drove off the rats.

One day, Mr. Fitzwarren asked his servants if they wished to send something in his ship, leaving on a journey to a far off port, to trade for gold. Reluctantly, Dick sent his cat. Dick was happy living with Mr. Fitzwarren, except that Fitzwarren's cook was cruel to Dick, who eventually decided to run away. But before he could leave the city, he heard the Bow Bells ring out. They seemed to be saying, "Turn again Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London". Dick retraced his steps and found that Mr. Fitzwarren's ship had returned. His cat had been sold for a great fortune to the King of Barbary, whose palace was overrun with mice. Dick was a rich man. He joined Mr. Fitzwarren in his business and married his daughter Alice, and in time became the Lord Mayor of London three times, just as the bells had predicted.

The notion that a cat could be a hero in a fairy tale or do something that would help bring about a happy end, was not the usual role that the cat was given in early fables and tales; if a cat was even mentioned at all, in the printed word. In the earliest stories, the cat was always connected to the mouse, as a simple rodent-killer. The cat was rarely given a personality. But 'Puss in Boots' marks a turning-point for the status of the cat. Puss wins by being clever.

Sara Cat

First Commenter:
A Musing Potpourri

Please leave a comment. 'Skicka en kommentar' means 'Post a comment'
To visit other posts about the letter 'P' please click on the image below:

Jenny Matlock

10 kommentarer:

La sa...

P is for Precious. La

Anonym sa...

What a great topic for the letter P.


Debbie Moore at Slice of Pie Entertaining and Cookbooks sa...

Cute! Thanks for sharing.

JDaniel4's Mom sa...

Really fun post! Thanks for sharing.

★Mumsy★ sa...

Very interesting P post! Your cat is adorable.

Judie sa...

Two of my favorite childrens' stories! Nice memories!

Sue sa...

You are so right, Sara. And Puss in Boots is one of my favorite stories from childhood.

Barbara sa...

These are great P words. I think both tales are popular as pantos here in England, I always get the two stories confused in my head and imagine Dick Whittington's cat with boots on!

Anonym sa...

Dear Sara Cat...
I never really knew the entire TAIL of Puss in Boots...
you clearly made me aware that
CATS are not to be reckoned with!

Lovely post...

Jenny sa...

Oh Sara. What a great post about a story I had long forgotten. I never actually knew the whole tale, so this was a particularly perfect and interesting link to Alphabe-Thursday's letter 'P'.

Your link made me purr in happiness.

Thank you.


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