Hello again and welcome to Monologue Monday, the super fun happy place where we profile a different monologue every – single – Monday.
For those who don’t know, Jack and the Beanstalk is a fairy/folk tale dating back in some form perhaps 5,000 years. However, the familiar version we know first popped up in 1734 as The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean. The most familiar version was published in 1890.
The original story is as follows (according to Wikipedia)
Jack is a young, poor boy living with his widowed mother and a dairy cow, on a farm cottage. The cow’s milk was their only source of income. When the cow stops giving milk, Jack’s mother tells him to take her to the market to be sold. On the way, Jack meets a bean dealer who offers magic beans in exchange for the cow, and Jack makes the trade. When he arrives home without any money, his mother becomes angry, throws the beans on the ground, and sends Jack to bed without dinner.
During the night, the magic beans cause a gigantic beanstalk to grow outside Jack’s window. The next morning, Jack climbs the beanstalk to a land high in the sky. He finds an enormous castle and sneaks in. Soon after, the castle’s owner, a giant, returns home. He smells that Jack is nearby, and speaks a rhyme:
I smell the blood of an English man:
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.
In the versions in which the giant’s wife (the giantess) features, she persuades him that he is mistaken and helps Jack hide. When the giant falls asleep, Jack steals a bag of gold coins and makes his escape down the beanstalk.
Jack climbs the beanstalk twice more. He learns of other treasures and steals them when the giant sleeps: first a goose that lays golden eggs, then a magic harp that plays by itself. The giant wakes when Jack leaves the house with the harp and chases Jack down the beanstalk. Jack calls to his mother for an axe and before the giant reaches the ground, cuts down the beanstalk, causing the giant to fall to his death.
Jack and his mother live happily ever after with the riches that Jack acquired.
Commentary: if the giant never really bothered anyone, Jack was kind of a jerk-face to steal from him and eventually kill him. Just saying…
Meddaugh’s monologue is like a snapshot of Jack when he first tries to climb the beanstalk and dude is scared. He talks to a crow for comfort and what follows is a character-rich psychological study of fear with a bit of humor.
The monologue can be found right here.
Trivia: that fee-fi-fo-fum line appeared earlier in Shakespeare’s King Lear:
Fie, foh, and fum,
I smell the blood of a British man.
Fy, Fa and fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman
Any way you cut it, Meddaugh’s monologue is a fresh take on a millennia-old story with a lot of phyisicality. Let’s see what our brave acting heroes have accomplished:
I hope everyone enjoyed this revisiting of a folk tale. Please join us Thursday when we profile an unknown playwright and also next Monday when we have another monologue!