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Bewildering Stories

Crystalwizard writes about...

“Bluebeard’s Wife”

Bluebeard’s Wife” was interesting, and I liked the way it was written, though I did see the ending coming.

I’m very confused what it’s got to do with Bluebeard, or even who Bluebeard is. There were several men mentioned, and none was named Bluebeard. The last guy she was married to didn’t even have a beard until the very last second when she mentioned that his beard was coming in nicely.

I also don’t get how Maggie is able to keep the bodies of her former husbands in a secret room in her house for all that time and not have them stinking up the place, unless they’re not dead. But the way the story was written, it appears that she’s killed all of them.

And that’s the third thing that I’m confused about. I can understand her deciding to kill the last guy because he demanded to see what was behind the door. But why the first guy? Why any of them? And why keep their bodies after she did so? There are large gaps in the plot that leave me feeling confused.


Copyright © 2007 by Crystalwizard

The Bluebeard legend may date from Charles Perrault — also the creator of “Mother Goose” — in the late 17th century. Folklorists have surmised that Perrault was referring to a real person, the 15th-century nobleman Gilles de Rais (or Retz), who had a castle in Brittany and appears to have been a notorious serial killer.

It is possible to read “Bluebeard’s Wife” from the viewpoint of strict realism. Thus, Maggie James’s secret room would have to be refrigerated in some way, i.e. a meat locker.

However, it is also possible — and perhaps preferable — to read the story from the viewpoint of magic realism, as understood in the broad sense of the term. Thus, the secret room comes to resemble fantastical elements such as one might find in fairy tales or the stories of Jorge Luis Borges.

Maggie’s secret room can thus be seen less as a physical construct — a walk-in refrigerator — than as a metaphor for the memory of disappointed loves.


Copyright © 2007 by Don Webb

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