Charles Perrault’s original version of “Blue Beard” is about a very rich blue bearded man who looked scary and was despised by most people. Besides the fact that Blue Beard was unattractive, he underwent several wives in which all of them started crossing their marital boundaries and ended up all hung up dead in his secret room. After his last wife vanished Blue Beard came across a lady’s daughter offering to marry her which leads to her new wife who now lives in wealth but is not allowed to enter a certain room.
The short reimagined version called, “55 Miles to the Gas Pump” is about a couple who live far out in a ranch. The story begins when Rancher Croom is drunk and is about to commit suicide. Similar to the restriction of not entering the secret room in “Blue Beard”, Mrs. Croom was never allowed in the attic because of all Crooms dead victims. Both stories themes relate to hiding secrets and branch off to two main changes in the plot, curiosity and how the husbands end up dead. These two changes in the plot portrays how the original version is more impactful because Blue Beard’s wife is more driven by curiosity to find out what is in the secret room which results in her staining a key with blood that portrays deeper insight later discussed. Also, the way Blue Beard dies portrays the outcome of sick habits along with unwillingly dying rather than committing suicide like Croom
Even though both husbands kept horrible secrets from their wives, “Blue Beard” is more impactful because Blue Beard’s wife was the most intrigued to find out her husband’s secret. Blue Beard had a errand to run one day so his newest wife was left to venture off in her new palace, and invite as many guests as she wants except for one room Blue Beard specifically said was off limits. While she was with her friends and exploring the palace the author states, “but all this time the bride herself was far from thinking about the fine speeches they made to her, for she was eager to see what was in the closet her husband had told her not to open” (Perrault 2). In extent, Blue Beard’s wife was way too curious to sit with her family and friends because she really wanted to know the reason behind not being able to enter the door. She soon finds out that Blue Beard hides his dead wives in this secret room which is why no one is allowed in.
The plot change which makes “Blue Beard” more impactful is when Blue Beard’s wife drops the keys on the ground and stains it with blood. When she notices the blood on the key she repeatedly tries to clean it off since it would be noticed by Blue Beard, but ended up not being able to get rid of the stained blood. This stained key resembles how trying to hide or get rid of your sinful secrets will not work and will always stay with you until the end. In contrast, Rancher Croom also had his dead victims hidden but in his attic. Although, Croom’s wife was not as curious to find out what was being hidden in their attic. When Croom commits suicide Mrs. Croom finds an opportunity to finally see what was hidden in their attic.
In Mrs. Croom’s perspective, the author states, “. . . cutting a hole into the attic where she has not been in twelve years thanks to old Croom’s padlocks and warnings. . . a ragged slab of peak is free and she can see inside: just as she thought: the corpses of Mr. Crooms paramours” (Proulx 251). Furthermore, Mrs. Croom already had an idea of what might have been in the attic. This is proven by Mrs. Croom seeing what she had already thought Croom was doing, and her reaction not being as dramatic as Blue Beard’s wife. Croom had already killed himself most likely because of all the wrongful sins he has done, so Mrs. Croom did not have a reason to be shocked at the hidden truth. The stained key from “Blue Beard” provides a more impactful insight because no matter how hard Blue Beard tried to keep his murders a secret, they eventually surfaced. In this case, the stained key was the clue that led to the discovery of the dead victims in the room. Another reason why “Blue Beard” is more impactful is because Blue Beard unwillingly dies rather than committing suicide like Croom did.
Croom kept padlocks on the attic door along with warnings not to enter just to hide his secret, but still had to deal with his terrible secret in the end. He may have killed himself because all of his wrongdoings might have overwhelmed him. The author writes, “. . . parting the air with his last roar, sleeves surging up windmill arms, jeans riding over boot tops, but before he hits he rises again to the top of the cliff…” (Proulx 251). This remains to be not significant enough, because even though Croom kills himself there is no lesson learned, whereas Blue Beard had his life taken away before he killed another woman. It all started once Blue Beard saw the stained key and instantly knew his wife had entered the room when she was not supposed to. This resulted in Blue Beard’s plan to kill his wife once again. However, in the end Blue Beard is killed by his wife’s brothers. The author writes, “. . . but they pursued and seized him before he had gone twenty steps, and plunging their swords into his body he fell down dead at their feet” (Perrault 4).
Those who commit crimes of murder continuously, like Blue Beard and Croom, try everything in their power to hide who they truly are. By doing so, they strictly keep their secrets to themselves having it not known to the outside world. However, When Blue Beard saw the stained key with his wife he realized his secret has been compromised. Unlike Proulx’s version, there were no turn of events similar to the death of Blue Beard nor the clues of Blue Beard’s secret room. The way Blue Beard dies gives scholars a better understanding of how you can not keep something hidden forever, as well as, showing how one’s negative actions receive negative outcomes. In essence, secrecy within both versions would best describe the theme and relate to all significant changes including curiosity and the turn of events which resulted in the husband’s deaths.
Both wives had to deal with the unknown secret and, in one case, let loom around their lives except Blue Beard’s wife who was driven by curiosity and took the braver approach to find out on her own. Rancher Croom may have killed himself because all his wrong doings might have overwhelmed him, although there is nothing to gain out of it. Unlike Croom, “Blue Beard” remains the most significant because his actions towards his past wives brought retaliation upon himself by his most recent wife’s brothers killing and ending his madness. Each wife planned out their own way to find out the secret but it was the extra step Blue Beard’s wife took that actually lead to his wife benefiting from it in the end.
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